Gordon’s was established in its present form in 1890, but the exposed brickwork, flickering candlelight and tobacco-stained fixtures and fittings in the low basement vaults make it feel older still.
Like the crowds, which are younger and livelier than you might expect, the wine list is surprisingly modern, hopping readily from the classic regions of France to South America and beyond. But the real eye-catchers are the fortified wines drawn directly from casks behind the bar: ports, sherries and Madeiras that fit nicely with the resolutely uncomplicated buffet-style food (pies, salads, cheeseboards) and tapas in the evening.
When the subterranean rooms are crammed, which is often, it can get distinctly warm in the semi-darkness, but a drink or two here remains a classic London experience. And in summer, you can repair to the terrace alongside the Embankment Gardens for barbecued food with a cheeky Australian.