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Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Fleet Street, EC4

145 Fleet Street
Phone: 02073536170

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

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Quinno _ left this review about Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

A long-overdue revisit as part of the Sam’s London Pub Challenge. Same as it ever was in the magnificent upstairs rooms. Rammed on my visit so explored the downstairs cellar bars in more detail – which run much deeper and further than I had realised! Glugged a bottle of the Oatmeal Stout, which is probably the finest beer in the Sam’s range. A visit a few days later also found the cask Stingo, which was dangerous. It’s a massive tourist trap, so this one is all about timing your visit when the landlady unlocks the front door.

September 2009
One of London’s best-known heritage pubs, this place was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed the original and it has remained fairly similar ever since. The entrance is down a narrow alleyway off Fleet Street and is easy to miss – though it is signposted by an attractive illuminated lamp. It also sits around the corner from Dr Johnson's house and I dare say he had the odd pint here. The interior is best described as ‘atmospherically gloomy’, with smoked blackened oak beams, wooden settles, hidden snugs and winding stairwells. There are a number of rooms on different levels – the sooty front bar is always open, whilst the restaurant rooms and cellar catacombs (mind your head on the stairs!) are sometimes closed off for private functions. The pub is owned by Sam Smiths, so it’s cheap but you have to like their beers (I don’t, generally); they do have real ale in the form of OBB, but it’s a pretty pish beer at the best of times. There’s no music or TV’s so often it’s just chatter and the ticking of the clock. I’d say that this is more of a winter pub than a summer one as there is a real fire in the front bar in winter but it’s pretty dim and murky during the summer which can make for a relatively depressing feel when it’s quiet. Overall, it’s well-worth a visit for the heritage factor – whether you’d want to stay beyond a pint depends on your view on Sam Smiths. Rated 7

On 20th December 2019 - rating: 8
[User has posted 4042 recommendations about 4030 pubs]

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hondo . left this review about Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

The entrance is tucked away down an alleyway. Sam Smith's pub so you know what your getting beer wise and as you would expect an atmospheric old style interior that is spread over 4 levels with a number of different rooms and bars. Stairs to the toilet a bit dodgy if your tall.

On 8th October 2019 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2746 recommendations about 2689 pubs]

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Brainy Pool left this review about Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

I tend to think Sams do a much better job with these historic pubs than the likes of Nicholsons and Greene King, if you can get over your phobia of their beer. a lively boozer with many areas but the old fella waiting on the dining room was a bit miserable. at £3.60 easily the most expensive pint of OBB i’ve had but still a snip for central London.

On 1st February 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 773 recommendations about 754 pubs]

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Bucking Fastard left this review about Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

This Sam Smith house is rightfully famous and does have a very interesting and old interior.The side entrance leads onto a corridor with ,to the right a very charming square room with a blazing fire and is described above the door as a place where gentlemen will be served.The bar here also opens to the corridor and is picked out in wood with inlaid glass.Opposite is the Chop Room with lights off ,although the fire was glowing and I assume this is a restaurant.The food offering looks pub grub with mains £11-13.50 and cheaper light bite options,which seemed reasonably priced given it's tourist attractions.
Along the corridor there is a small side snug with small serving bar,while next is the Cheshire Room at a lower level with a wooden vaulted ceiling but much less charm than the rest of the building.It also smelt damp,but there is a lot of room here and a long serving bar.
There is a tricky climb up to the first floor with two further rooms ,both well panelled and containing large tables which can easily seat 8,while the next flight of stairs was roped off but was described as the Johnson Room.
Only Old Brewery Bitter and a selection of Sam Smith kegged beers and cider,it's worth buying a half of OBB (£1.80,dull but not offensive) and looking carefully around,there is a lot of history here..However the lack of interesting beer will always be a negative and sadly points have been deducted as a result.

On 26th January 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2088 recommendations about 2088 pubs]

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Tris C left this review about Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

A return visit after about ten years and naturally no alterations have been made to this historic pub dating from the mid-16th century, burnt down in 1666 and rebuilt in 1667. Multi-roomed, a deep (three-storey?) basement which was once the brewery vaults for an old abbey above which I think dates from the 13th century. Behind one of the three bars sits Polly, the former pub's stuffed parrot which entertained customers for around 40 years until her death in 1926.
On the down side, this is a Sam Smith's pub so I ended up being the only person in our group not to order a drink as I have decided that abstinence is preferable to their dreadful beers.
Certainly worth a visit for a quick drink and to soak up the history, but not a place in which you are likely to remain unless you come from Tadcaster.

On 31st August 2018 - rating: 7
[User has posted 999 recommendations about 984 pubs]

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Will Larter left this review about Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

This Sam Smiths pub is on Camra's National Inventory (follow the What Pub link for more details) and is well worth a visit on that score. Entrance is by a side door in the alley to the left of the pub's frontage. The fact that the pub was rebuilt in 1667 is recorded on a lantern above the door; those with a good recollection of dates will have a good idea of what might have happened to the original building.

Once inside it's a warren of rooms, reminding me somewhat of Beatrix Potter's Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse. I went into a bar on the right where a solitary barman was dealing with a large crowd valiantly and with good humour. I wandered off after being served and found plenty of seating and another bar further on, which felt like it was underground, though this may have been an illusion. On my way back I paused to compliment the original barman for his efforts - he stopped serving long enough to grin, thank me and shake my hand. (If only a small percentage of Wetherspoons staff could show the same application and enjoyment, that chain would not provide the often miserable experiences that it does.)

Date of visit: 21st November 2017

On 10th January 2018 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2655 recommendations about 2502 pubs]

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Blackthorn _ left this review about Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

A fairly traditional looking pub located down a narrow alleyway just off of Fleet Street, this is quite easy to miss even if you’re deliberately looking for it as we were, although there is an illuminated pub sign on the main road. Once inside however, it is a veritable Tardis of a pub extending back some way with a much larger room at the rear and the same floor area again down in the basement.

The small room on the right at the front is certainly the cosiest, with a real fire that you could smell as soon as you walked in. This has black wood panelling on the walls and a number of oil painting portraits hung on the walls. To the left was a room designated as the Chop Room which looked quite elegant, but I think may have been reserved for dining. The pub then opens out considerably at the rear although loses some of it’s character in the process with grey and blue paintwork on the much of the walls and flag stone flooring. Down a narrow and winding staircase is something of a rabbit warren with another large room at the rear but other smaller rooms and even brick lined vaulted corridors with just a few tables on each side.

The main let down though was the beer choice. Being a Sam Smith’s pub, the only available beer was their Old Brewery Bitter. This didn’t go down well with my companions, and both the Taddy Lager and Reserve Cider was also pronounced very poor. This is a real shame as it’s a great pub, but the poor drinks selection really makes me hesitate to recommend it unless it’s just a case off sticking your head in the door and trying to get a half down because other than that it really is a fascinating pub.

On 26th January 2016 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1749 recommendations about 1684 pubs]

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Ian Mapp left this review about Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Must visit place for anyone with an interest in pub history. I would recommend a visit on a Winter's evening, when the coal fires pump out heat and light the dark wooded interior with an Orange Glow.

If you can get into the restaurant on the left, you are lucky and in for a treat of classic english food.

Bar to the right is tiny but full of interest. Cavernous downstairs cellar bar, at least has space.

Only negative is a big one. Sam Smith's beer is all that is on offer. And some nice looking Pork Pies.

On 19th December 2014 - rating: 10
[User has posted 697 recommendations about 691 pubs]

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Moby Duck left this review about Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Cant add to Johns extensive review below but agree it is a pub you should see ,an impressive and historic interior, the beer doesn't impress for me though however cheap it is , I find Sam Smiths OBB rather ordinary. I have been here a couple of times but that's about it for me, an enhanced beer selection would make it a more attractive proposition for me despite the tourist aspect, for the building its an 8/10 but for beer 4/10 so I'll settle on overall a 6.

On 14th September 2014 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1356 recommendations about 1342 pubs]

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John Bonser left this review about Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Hidden away down a narrow alleyway off Fleet Street is one of the capital’s most famous and historic pubs, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.

Easily missable by the first time visitor walking down Fleet Street, an old unusual circular pub sign tells us that we are about to enter “Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – A D 1667”. The history books tell us that an inn has stood on this site since 1538, but that the original building was destroyed by The Great Fire of London. On the wall outside, an old board gives a list of sovereigns since 1667, pointing us that there have only been 15 in total since that date.

It’s an atmospheric old inn with, in particular the Chop Room on the left ( a famous restaurant serving a wide selection of steak and kidney pies, roast beef steaks etc ) and the small main bar on the right reeking of ancient history and retaining much olde worlde Dickensian charm. There’s wood panelling, fine framed paintings, old wooden benches, subdued lighting, sawdust on the creaking floorboards, and a log fire all contributing towards a fine traditional atmosphere, unspoilt by modern embellishments apart from the rather garish Sam Smiths keg beer dispensers ( “man in a box” etc ) on the bar counter, which really do jar somewhat.

Behind the bar here, we see, in a glass case, a stuffed parrot – Polly – who entertained customers to the pub for many years until her death in 1926. Her fame was such that obituary notices appeared in national newspapers. Some of these have been reproduced and framed and can be seen on the wall leading to the rear part of the pub.

The pub is listed in CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.

Dr Johnson is among the famous customers who frequented the pub, as was Charles Dickens, who mentioned the pub in “A Tale of Two Cities”.

Since my first visit to this pub in the late 70’s, it’s been considerably enlarged towards the back. A less atmospheric Cheshire Bar with a high ceiling and greenish painted brick walls and a downstairs Cellar Bar, with a number of different nooks and crannies do at least have the benefit of providing much needed additional space as, like The Blackfriar nearby, the pub is very much on the tourist circuit.

As well as these newer rooms, a narrow winding wooden staircase leads up to additional bars, which I vaguely remember from the 70’s, but which, on my recent visits, have been roped off and not in use. I suspect they are now principally used for functions or group bookings.

I remember the pub when it sold Marstons Beers, then a real rarity in the capital and long before they had the Wolves and Dudley brands. It’s currently owned by Sam Smiths, who, of course have an excellent record of respecting the tradition and history of ancient inns such as this, although I do think that all the colourful and bright beer dispensers ( man in a box etc ) do jar somewhat when set against the dark woodwork and subdued lighting of the front bar. Sam Smith’s OBB is served on handpump – at £ 2.90p per pint – a price which, unsurprisingly, often causes unsuspecting visitors to believe they’ve been undercharged.

If you haven’t been here, you should definitely pay this one a visit when you get the chance

On 28th February 2014 - rating: 8
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

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