Walking away from World Squares for All - as Trafalgar Square will be cumbersomely known, once Mayor Ken Livingstone has turned the great 'island' into a bombastic piazza - down Whitehall, towards Westminster, the first obvious pub you chance upon is The Silver Cross: a haven away from the future Piazza's pigeon shit and meandering tourists.
Together with JD Wetherspoon and Samuel Smith, another pub chain that owns a large number of London's pubs is T J Bernard, of which The Silver Cross is one. Renowned for quality food and a good selection of drinks - everyday beers and real ale - this pub follows the standard set by other pubs in the chain. One unusual feature of a TJ Bernard pub are the menus, which feature a section of Pump Clips pictures detailing all the varying beers that are sold.
The Silver Cross is a spacious pub with numerous nooks and crannies, and lots of seats and tables. But, however, the two stairways belie the fact that there's a vast downstairs area that equals upstairs in size and features. Taking either stairway, at the front or middle of the pub, is like gliding down a sumptuous, curving staircase in a large country house, descending upon your guests attending a dinner-dance in ballgown and penguin-suit!
Fancy a glass of wine? Take your pick from the range of bottles languishing in a Victorian sink behind the large, split level bar. Never been in a pub that doesn't have pub-junk on the walls? Visit The Silver Cross and wonder upon the multitude of tat, the pictures, the objects that appear to have no purposeful use, and the pictures of unknown luminaries that were obviously some big shot once. Visiting the Gents loos takes you past a birdcage bolted to the wall, an empty birdcage. Where's the bird? Did it kark it due to a passive smoking addiction? Did it escape and end up as Pigeon fodder for the winged vermin of Trafalgar Square that eat anything? Did it escape and join the myriad variety of winged-wildlife that thrives in nearby St James's Park? Did it end up on the menu?
Taking a seat in what appears to be Granny Clampett's rocking chair, minus the rockers, you feel as though you're in somebody's kitchen due to the Welsh Dresser replete with crockery; that is a Welch Dresser in the furniture sense, not an effeminate gentleman working in a Cardiff outfitters who's attempting to measure your inside-leg.
Located directly opposite the Whitehall Theatre, this pub vies for the arty-set's business alongside the triumvirate of nearby pubs that are jointly responsible for obtaining the pre-theatre clientele. The trio of pubs on the east side of road obviously lose the battle to the Lord Moon of the Mall, as trying to cross a busy Whitehall (to and from the theatre) is like a Christian being thrown to the lions, the lions awaiting to pounce from the bottom of nearby Nelson's column.
As you'd expect for its location, this pub gets busy, a combination of tourists and Civil Servants, but is a good place to pop-in for a drink or two if you're on that side of the road. The quality of women is high and the excess of window area at the front is ideal to gaze upon the passing talent.
Review by mr_psm