Saturday 8 March 2008

Shakespeare's Head, Kingsway, central London

Probably one of the largest and cheapest pubs in central London, the Wetherspoons-owned Shakespeare's Head occupies much of the ground floor of the monumental Africa House. It is a cross between a venerable Victorian pub and a brash motorway service station. Colourful menus and posters advertising special deals are sprinkled liberally among sombre brown tables, bookcases, leather sofas and ornate glass screens. By London standards, the prices are keen and the menu has a bewildering selection of dishes ranging from ciabatta sandwiches (£3.19) to beef and Abbot Ale pie (£7) to cooked-breakfasts and chocolate-chip muffins. A burger, chips and drink costs a fiver, while a curry and drink costs one pound more. Even so, the portions are substantial. The tasty and fairly spicy fish curry is served with a big pile of yellow rice and three poppadoms. Condiments are the mass-produced variety available in brightly coloured sachets. Large coffees cost just £1.19, while a pint of Greene King IPA is £1.99 and there are plenty of other real ales and lagers on tap, plus many bottled drinks. Service can be haphazard, but is generally friendly. Great value, the Shakespeare's Head is deservedly popular with pensioners, builders, young office workers and budget-conscious tourists, but snobs should avoid. 7/10