We have to wait until noon for the pub around the corner to unlock its doors. Its shutters are already wide open to the gray day to air out the stink of Saturday night. We're the first to arrive and peek inside hoping that the bartenders will take pity and open at the expected hour, but they're indifferent to our thirst. One comes outside with an unlit cigarette hanging on his lip and a folded chalkboard under his arm. He says good morning, but then shuts the door again behind him, lights his smoke and scrawls out the Sunday menu:
It's really not necessary. It's the same menu that's being scratched onto a thousand other chalkboards across the city. There are a few different flourishes here and there, but the principle is the same.
He goes back inside and a few more hungry patrons join us in the wait until a quarter past. The bartender comes back and clicks open the latch but doesn't bother opening the door. The place is shining like a freshly waxed church pew. Mismatched old stools are tucked neatly under counters and tables. Sunday Pub is worlds away from Saturday Pub, who tends to be much naughtier. Sunday Pub is a family establishment, open to couples with babies in prams and grandparents after service. Unlike Saturday Pub its noise stays at a respectable level. The neighbors don't even complain; in fact, they're all there at the next table.
Tourists drop in clutching London guidebooks, happy to sample a half pint at an authentic pub. An older gentleman, still dripping sweat from his morning run, chooses a full pint and stands at the bar, drinking it down quickly like it's a much tastier Gatorade.
Sunday Pub is welcoming and clean and bright and cozy, but its best feature is its roast. The menu describes it, but roasts are all the same: a thick piece of meat, cooked long and slow, drenched in dark gravy, accented by green peas and a fluffy Yorkshire pudding. Pudding is ambiguous here. It is indeed that glorious steaming popover called Yorkshire pudding, but it also means dessert in general, so a pudding can be savory or sweet. It's wise to have a pudding by your roast and a pudding to complete the meal.
There's no rush. You can come alone with a book and nurse a pint for an hour. And, you might have to do just that as you wait for your roast. Magic in a pub kitchen happens notoriously slowly.
Later in the afternoon, the fog starts to burn off and a few shards of sun splinter into the room, lighting up the wood and brass taps. Patrons glance over the flowers in picture boxes in the windows and consider going for a walk while the sun's out, but think the better of it. Sunday Pub is being so kind, and the view can still be enjoyed from inside.