The Punch Tavern has something of an identity crisis, is it a restaurant, café or a pub? Food is obviously important here and the pub's many accolades are displayed prominently.
This old pub, for that's what it is, exudes a warm welcome at its front door. Curious visitors are drawn in by the exquisite tiles, mirrors and pictures portraying Mr. & Mrs. Punch, which line the entrance hall. Inside, eyes are immediately lifted upwards to the unique decorated skylight.
The main bar has a confusion of styles; a large soft sofa, benches, mixed tables and chairs, it can work in a 'spit and sawdust' pub but this one requires elegance to match its decor. The bar counter and bar back are the centre piece, a solid marble top on highly polished wood and beautiful etched mirrors behind. All around are large hardwood framed mirrors from dado to picture rail, interrupted only by a lovely fireplace. More painted treasures are found in the back room, continuing the Punch theme.
Originally called the Crown & Sugar Loaf, the pub changed its name when it became the watering-hole for staff of the satirical magazine Punch, which was conceived in a pub near here in 1841. In Ludgate Circus, Punch and Judy shows were a regular entertainment and may have been the inspiration for the magazine's name. The Punch Tavern used to celebrate this connection with many of the magazine's cartoons displayed on its walls. The last edition of Punch magazine was printed in 2002.
Once it had an entrance and bar in Bride Lane. It was half owned by Bass (later Punch Taverns, did they take the name from here?) and Samuel Smith's, who took it over from Nicholson's. The marriage ended in divorce and a kind of Berlin Wall was put up between the two bars. The Bride Lane side remained in darkness for several years then suddenly a new and magnificent pub was born in the shape of the Crown & Sugar Loaf.
This is a lovely pub and the management are clearly proud of it, but it's not for stand-up drinkers.
The Punch Tavern -
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