Please note, The Coach Makers Arms has been refurbished and now has a dedicated upstairs dining room. Time Out Food editors, January 2018.
The third-storey name plaque, ‘The Coach Makers Arms’, shows that this latest name is no modern affectation. Built more than a century ago, this ornate corner site in Marylebone has also been called the Golden Eagle, O’Conor Don and (most recently) Conduit of Tybourne.
It’s on a quiet sunlit pavement, handy for smokers and baskers; venture into the ground floor and the noise levels soar, but it’s still a lovely place for a pint. Jennings Cocker Hoop from Cumbria, Theakstons Black Bull Bitter from Yorkshire, and Brakspear Oxford Gold are among the cask-conditioned ales (all at £3.30).
Comfy sofas and a few small tables give you choice of lounging or snacking while admiring the chandeliers and occasional art nouveau detail. The wine list has plenty of choice across a wide price range, plus nearly 20 wines by the glass.
If you’re dining, the first floor is much quieter but still has its own bar and an identical, monthly-changing menu. The dishes are British-based (potted ham shoulder, oysters), plus pub favourites (toad in the hole, burger, Caesar salad). But our new season lamb was tough, either as a result of poor quality meat or unsuitable cooking; we couldn’t tell.
Much better was an African-inspired steamed bean pudding, shaped like a flan but flavoured with tomato sauce and palm oil. Both these dishes were a bit pricey for the standard of cooking, at £14.50 and £11 respectively. A frozen brandy parfait with crystallised flowers and a rhubarb tart (£4.50) also showed the kitchen has ambition, but we’d stick to the simpler dishes next time.
Marylebone’s not short of pubs, but this one’s a treasure, not least for the friendly atmosphere, and enticing range of interesting real ales. It’s perfect for a pop-by pint.