This place sprawls over at least six rooms, and boasts one of the best beer yards in the area (to be fair, the competition ain't great). The capacity is just as well, as the Water Poet gets very busy most evenings, with a combination of suits, local creative types, and even a few tourists. It's named after execrable 17th century 'water poet', who shares his name with the pub's owner (who also happens to own the excellent Crown and Shuttle, across the road... which is the only other place round here with a decent beer garden).
A changing range of ales from breweries both big and small usually offers something different on every visit. The pub's especially good at supporting local breweries, with offerings such as Five Points, Redemption and London Fields a likely sight. This place does food well, piling on alluring menu verbs like 'seared', 'foraged', 'griddled' and 'soaked'. The small dining room often gets booked out for lunch. In the summer, more dining capacity is provided by a BBQ in the beer yard.
Little do most diners know that they're sitting just metres from the scene of a mass animal roasting that involved bears and lions. In 1884, the neighbouring menagerie burnt to the ground, with horrific consequences for the animals. Don't let that put you off the aged rare breed burger.
The basement space is ideal for small meetups. Indeed, we held our fifth birthday party there a few years back (update: many years back). Then hired it again for a pub quiz. And even went back (this time upstairs) for our Christmas meal in 2013. Yes, I think it's safe to say we like this place.
This is, we reckon, as near as damnit the best all-round pub in central London.