‘JHn. Davy Free Vintner’ reads the sign on the wall of an empty Borough side street, above an 071 number. It may as well read ‘Southwark 1184’ for all the modernity present within. ‘Hello, Sir,’ calls out Peter Common from behind a hatch as you enter, admiring the beautiful wood-panelled interior and occasional finely upholstered chair amid the wooden ones.
A bowl of water biscuits awaits on the counter, where the promise of rare sirloin and cured ox tongue cold cuts is chalked up alongside game pie and fresh Newlyn crab meat, white only. The wine selection is concise: affordable house French red or white among a dozen by the glass; another dozen half-bottles; and a premium list of limited-availability reds and magnums of claret.
A sign says that the Boot & Flogger offers ‘port, sherry and Madeira direct from the wood’; but alas, the glasses (around £4.50) are no longer filled from the cask. Among the decorative pictures is a notice calling for men to join the Light Brigade; indeed, this is the kind of place officers would have gathered before the fateful journey to the Crimea.