One day, there will be a review of this Soho landmark without mentioning its legendary, long-gone landlord Norman Balon – but not just yet. The grouch who presided over the Coach’s louche years, when equally legendary columnist Jeffrey Bernard and fellow wisecracking, literary sourpusses were regulars, still looms large.
‘The West End’s most famous pub’ now features ‘Norman’s Coach & Horses pub piano singalong’ twice a week and the Private Eye dining room upstairs, named after the satirical stalwart whose editorial team met here.
Quality food is another recent reinvention: minute steak with garlic butter, or Scottish smoked salmon with sour cream and soda bread, with walnuts dipped in chocolate to follow. It’s a ‘fresh food’ pub, so all pâtés, sausages, biscuits and soda bread are made on site, the butter is hand-churned farmhouse and there are squat candles on each table within the venerable, wooden interior.
Moreover, the range of drinks on draught – Orchard Pig, Meantime Helles, Hobgoblin, Cotswold cider – is more than decent. Upstairs you'll find a tearoom.