I was a little disappointed by the London pub scene. Taken individually, the pubs are great...wonderful cask conditioned ale, very decent food, nice atmosphere. The problem is that every place you walk into is THE SAME DAMN PUB! 9 out of 10 pubs are part of a franchised concern, and they are virtually identical, with the same decor and vibe. Check the food menus that are posted outside...identical! I was expecting a rich variety of unique establishments, but what I found could have been called "McPub."
By far, the best place I visited was in Greenwich, a short train ride away from London. The Greenwich Union features a spectacular array of beers made by the affiliated Meantime Brewing Company. We stumbled upon the pub quite by accident one afternoon, when we got lost walking back from the Naval Academy...a very happy accident! We had a few pints and a scotch egg, and when I mentioned my homebrewing hobby to the barman, he started bringing me samples of everything they had on tap.
We were impressed enough to return for dinner, and had the most amazing meal. They had a steak & stout pie that was obscenely good, and made the normal pub variety seem like a frozen dinner. Also good was the rosemary & mustard crusted lamb. The guy at the next table had something called "A Stinking Bishop," which actually smelled damn good! Naturally we washed it down with several pints of their wonderful beers, including the best stout I've ever tasted, and an American style pale ale (complete with cascade aroma) that was nothing short of stunning.
Well worth the train ride!
The Greenwich Union