There are few occasions when spirits are lifted when re-visiting an old pub. Usually a sigh of relief if it's unchanged, more often a groan, when a cherished pub loses more of its character after some careless 'improvement'. So it's a loud cheer at the Crown and Sugar Loaf, which has not only risen like Lazarus but is more magnificent than before.
This is what a new Victorian pub must have felt like, gleaming and pristine. The whole interior has been painstakingly reconstructed at considerable expense. Samuel Smith and its architects have recreated a shining palace using new and reclaimed materials. We are told only the bar counter is original. The magnificent mirrors, hardwood panelling and elegant real fireplace are matched by the mosaic stone floor, which alone must have cost thousands of pounds to install.
This impressive pub is all the more remarkable following its almost farcical demise. It was one bar of the Punch Tavern in Fleet Street, which was originally called the Crown and Sugarloaf. The Punch was part owned by the Mucky Duck Pub Company and Samuel Smith's of Yorkshire. An unhappy divorce resulted in a wall appearing between the two. The Punch continued but the bar in Bride Lane closed for several years. Samuel Smith's renovation is remarkable and should be applauded.
Because of limited kitchen facilities simple meals are prepared in the bar area. The pub is closed at weekends but is available for hire.
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