photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Does gout have a vibe? It’s hard to say, but The George is a pub that certainly does its best to create a gout-ish feeling. The Fitzrovia pub—run by the JKS restaurant group that counts The Cadogan Arms, Bibi and Bao amongst its all-conquering London restaurant roster—is a delicious and decadent take on a classic gastro-pub.
You enter as you do any boozer in the city: with the beer taps straight ahead of you and everyone making a beeline for them. There’s an old school saloon-ish feel to The George’s downstairs bar. It’s all mahogany wood and patterned mirrors, but this belies the truth of the establishment. Look a little closer and you’ll see telltale signs that The George is more gastro than pub. We’re not saying that you’ll find regulars dabbing Guinness from their lips with a napkin, nor that Ainsley Harriott is behind the bar pulling pints—but you might notice someone tucking into a gooey black pudding scotch egg, or catch the whiff of a crispy jacket potato with masala baked beans and grated cheddar straight from Neil’s Yard. Yes, it's a pub with British pub food. As well as being something a whole lot more extravagant.
That something is found in The George’s upstairs dining room. A sort of secret and seductive hideout for anyone looking to part ways with a stupendous amount of cash for langoustine scampi and chips or irresistible steak tournedos rossini. The room gives off an energy that mixes The Tudors and the posh bit of the Titanic while the staff, who are friendly rather than fawning, will very much encourage you to eat oysters. Indulgent? Yes. Silly? Certainly. The knickerbocker glory for dessert? Without a doubt. All of it is perfectly debaucherous.
Now, spending £35 on tarted up scampi and chips is not exactly everyday behaviour, but Upstairs at The George is not your everyday pub meal. This is an occasional blowout for special (or silly) occasions. Though, you can come up here and go for a few starters or, say, the steak tartare with fries. But with their all-British wine list itching to be explored and words like ‘foie’ and ‘gras’ on the menu, we can’t help but think you want to be going all in at an establishment that appreciates velvet banquettes as much as The George does.
Of course, this makes it inaccessible in more ways than one. The stairs, the prices, the feeling that perhaps fox hunting isn’t so bad. But if a certain kind of British excess—complete with chardonnays from Kent and punchy devilled eggs—gets you going, then The George isn’t just extravagant. It’s extremely enjoyable.
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The devilled egg, for all its deliciousness, has some associations it can’t seem to shift. In Britain it’s seen as a ‘70s thing, expected to be found on a buffet table surrounded by a fog of Benson and Hedges. But that reputation is in itself outdated. Devilled eggs should be delicious (as with many things that originate from Rome) and The George’s certainly are. Artfully filled via piping bag, the mixture is just the right amount of mustard-y and smooth. A very satisfying snack.
Steak tartares are so often hit and miss, but this one is a hit. The meat is chopped so finely it virtually melts away and the accoutrements—red onion, cornichons, capers, dijon, and a glowing orange yolk—are satisfying accompaniments to mix in and pile onto crisp bread slices.
Langoustine Scampi and Chips
We’ll be honest. In the past, we’ve eaten plates and bags of scampi and chips that have posed questions. What is the origin of this scampi? Why does it have the texture of mush? Are we just eating blended plastic bags? There’s no such questions with The George’s scampi and chips. Flamboyantly served, still attached to the rest of the langoustine, this is a delicious and meaty OTT take on a British classic. The chips, somewhere between a french fry and a chip shop chip, are excellent.
Steak Tournedos Rossini
For £39, you hope you’re getting a fantastic dinner. Well, dear reader, this is just that. A fillet of steak cooked to eye-rolling levels of enjoyment, drenched in madeira sauce, sitting on a massive wheel of beef fat-fried toast, and topped with a fried slice of foie gras. Decadent and delicious—this is a death row plate of food.
Find us a person who doesn’t want vanilla ice cream, salted caramel toffee, chocolate fudge brownie in a long old glass with a long old spoon and we will kindly tell them to go away.