IN MY TOP FIVE
19 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London W6 9TA
Nearest tubes: Ravenscourt Park, Stamford Brook, Hammersmith
I defy you to pass the Dove without stopping to admire and wondering: “Shall I go in?” Everything about this cosy old pub screams; “Pick me, pick me!” Maybe it’s the blackboards outside that actually say: “Come inside”. It isn’t rocket science but if you give people a reason to call in they just might. A pub with a sign outside saying: “Great food served here” tells you nothing. But for a moment you will find yourself thinking: “Hmm. GREAT food. That’s my favourite kind”.
EST: 1790s. Monarch: George III
The Dove has many historical claims to fame being reportedly the site of lovers’ trysts between Charles II and his mistress Nell Gwyn. However, Charles died in 1685 and the Dove only became a pub in the late 1700s. So either this is stretching the truth or these romantic encounters occurred during the Dove’s previous incarnation as a coffee house. Mind you, some sources say the management only started serving coffee in 1740 and the Merry Monarch was long dead even by then, so reports are somewhat confused to say the least. The pub is also said to be the place where Scottish poet and playwright James Thompson wrote the words to Rule Britannia! in the 18th century. And famous 20th century customers have included American author Ernest Hemingway and English literary critic Graham Greene.
The public bar is reputedly Britain’s smallest and measures a mere 4ft by 7ft 10in. Some say it was built to allow the landlord to gain a full liquor licence since two bars were needed to fulfil the criteria. There is no real proof to this story but the tiny addition certainly enhances the quaint, doll’s house-feel of this attractive riverside pub.
The Dove has a traditional woody interior and more nooks and crannies than a pub this size deserves. When we went one Sunday lunchtime we easily found a seat in the cosy, wood-panelled main bar. In one corner there was a lone woman with a pot of tea while in a window sat an elderly couple sharing the Sunday papers. It was fairly obvious that this was their weekly tradition and the pub has a distinctly local vibe. There is a restaurant area plus a lovely, flower-bedecked balcony overlooking the Thames.
The other stuff
Guess what – the Dove does GREAT food. This is based on very limited experience since my family and I all ordered the fish and chips. But it was the best pub fish and chips with the lightest of beer batters, the fluffiest of chips and the most authentic mushy peas that any of us had had for years. Other menu highlights include sea trout fillet and Dorset lamb while Fullers beers on tap include London Pride and ESB.
For a complete list of pubs, go to the home page.