I'm an American who actually worked at this pub at the end of 2008. It's a Sam Smith's pub, though it's changed ownership since then. So, I don't really have anything current to say on service and food.
As for history, this place is just fantastic. It's one of the oldest (if not THE oldest) continuously operating pub in London. The oldest piece is the oven in the center of the main room. As for the confessional style booths and general "churchiness" of the place...it was actually the result of a early 1900s remodel to make it look more historic. So most things aren't quite as old as they appear.
If you are a tourist, I highly recommend this pub. Hidden in a historic part of central London and not too crowded on weekends as its main draw is the afterwork banker crowd. It's central and off the beaten path at the same time. It is also owned by Samuel Smith's and ONLY serves their beer. To many people, this is a huge negative. I can't tell you how many people I served that were outraged that I couldn't serve them a Bud Light. To an American/other tourists, this is a HUGE positive. Do you know how much we pay for Sam Smith's in the States???? It's here in abundance and Sam Smith's sets their pub prices lower than pretty much any other pub in central London.
When I worked there, the owner of Sam Smith's was trying to force all of his pubs into frozen meals. I have no idea where that issue stands now. But the former owners made the most AMAZING food and were one of the few Sam Smith's pubs to still serve meals made from scratch. The lunch hour had an awesome variety of homemade pies, soups and lasagnes. While the dinner hour, they were forced to serve frozen pies, hamburgers and fries as dictated by the company. It's a shame that they've probably moved completely to the frozen model. It was some of the best home cooked classic British food you could get, especially in the banking area of London.
What a wonderful pub. I have discovered that whenever you have friends or family from out of town (or visiting from another country), the Cittie of Yorke is the kind of place that gets them excited.
When walking in you find yourself stepping back in time, and even the prices are from yesteryear! Sam Smiths prices are very good, especially for London, and the pubs themselves are incredibly unique.
I recommend for both cheap pints and the lack of tacky music in the background.
This is a beautiful vintage bar that oozes history. It's definitely a place to go at least once whilst your in London.
However, don't make the mistake of ordering any food as this place could easily feature on kitchen nightmares. Burger had tough leathery reheated frozen mince. Lasagne seems to lack any mince whatsoever. The waitresses were great through and gave us a full refund. I'll be back but just for the atmosphere next time.
Awesome pub! Very roomy, and I loved the 'confessional' type booths across from the bar.
Staff was great and made some lazy Americans feel at home.
Unique pub, with large rooms and a creative layout, and a very historic ambiance! I've wanted to try this place for a while and was surprised by how much I liked it! The upstairs is very open and spacious, and there is also a giant cellar downstairs that has some particular decorations. When we went, the first floor was absolutely packed with people (and kind of smelled like a gym bag, albiet still very pretty), while the downstairs was pretty empty and there was plenty of seating. However, all the seats filled up within 10 minutes of us sitting down.
The prices are pretty decent, and I like the feel of the pub as it is one of the larger ones in London city center, and one of the older ones as well! They offer a good selection of foods for medium pricing, and their spicy chips were rather delicious! This is a perfect place to go in the city and get a couple drinks and eat some pub food!
This place is epic.
I don't care about the selection or service in this review. Normally I would, but this joint is so cool looking that you kinda have to put that normal review stuff aside and simple admire the uniqueness of the place.
And to be fair, I had no problem with the selection or service. It does get packed, but it's so big you can find un-congested spots - and people seemed to gather in spots apart from the main, big bar. There's a main bar, front room, alley and people also hang out in the street. Plus there's an underground bunker where Churchill updated England's Facebook page during the Biltz.
In time I will create a list of "must see" pubs in London and this will be on it.
Just remind me, please.
If you are as lucky as we were and you snag one of the super cool booths, you'll have as cool of an experience here as we did (the rest of the place is awesome too, with huge vaulted ceilings, we just have a serious thing for booths).
The huge ceilings make this place feel really unique and the whole place has this lovely non-douchey vibe to it.
We sampled a few great real ales here and a cider or two and soaked up our time in here. Definitely one of our favorite pubs in London.
The Cittie of York is a pretty cool pub. The aforementioned "Olde Worlde" feeling of the place makes spending a night out at the Cittie of York feel like a bit of an adventure. I feel like I'm an anachronism in this pub, mostly because I don't get to hang out in places with stone floors, cavernous wooden-beamed ceilings, and antique-feeling, intimate, dark wooden booths very often. These alcoves/booths provide a bit of a feeling of privacy, but make things a bit difficult for a larger group, as their absolute capacity is about 6 normal-sized people.
As a Sam Smith pub, one can always count on a decently-priced pint of drink here. Also, thanks to the low foot-traffic of the area after business-hours, patrons can bring their drinks outside with them to smoke or socialize in front, a treat which seems to be getting rarer and rarer in London pubs.
While this pub is terrifically huge, it still has the capacity to get completely and totally rammed in the evenings. A word of advice for fidgety bar patrons and smokers: If you visit the Cittie of York on a Friday night and you foresee yourself wanting to get up and head outside at any point, don't let your friends choose the tables at the very back of the upstairs area for your group to settle. It can be an incredible task to make your way all the way through the pub when it is heaving on a Friday night, and at least two members of my group had entire glasses of wine dumped on them while trying to navigate their way through on our last visit.
My favourite bit of The Cittie of York:
As an (expatriated) American, I find myself humbled by the knowledge that the barrels above the bar are very likely OLDER THAN MY HOME COUNTRY. Dayum.
From the outside, this seems your typical 'olde worlde' pub of yore, and I left - albeit worse for wear - not knowing quite whether it lived up to to its exterior.
It wants to come across as old, which it undoubtedly is. It's really old, like really. And it is mad just how old it is. So, this pub is owned by this brewery in Yorkshire, which means they have a full range of beer, lager, stout, bitter, alpine lager etc, all brewed up in Yorkshire, and all really cheap. Which is nice.
They have what I take to be Tudor 'booths', lining the side of the pub, which were full when we got there. But there were tables. Lucky we got there when we did. It sooned filled up as all the city boys and girls finished for the week and piled in. Quite a good atmosphere to boot!
I would definitely come back here. Even though most of the brewing barrels above the bar appear to be as real as the runaway mine trains which litter the queuing areas in Alton Towers, it's still quite a nice establishment. I had the 'oatmeal stout' - RATHER GOOD
Its ok for a sam smiths pub but I was expecting something a bit more special . Beer quality was good but had to ask for a top up , staff seemed to think that a northern style head means a Banks's style head at least an inch of foam :( . Beer price is goid at £2.90 though can get same beer in Durham for £1.80 .
Recalibration upwards from 4 to 5 stars.
Just as good as it gets for an after work pub.
Fantastic interior, Sam Smiths beer which is always well priced compared to other pubs, great bar staff who are efficient and friendly, good crowd.
I've been meaning to come to this pub for the longest time (I mean a pub has been here since the 15th century so I really should have made the effort sooner!) , but somehow just hadn't made it. But by one of those pleasant coincidences a friend I hadn't seen in a while texted me from within its visually impressive and cavernous (almost churchlike) interior and I made haste.
Not much to say on the drinks. The usual Sam Smith's stuff. This is definitely one of their better pubs though, just for the lovely interior. Really has to be seen at least once. Can get very busy though, but I guess the area, the pub and prices mean that this would be inevitable.
My experience with the Cittie of York was down in the cellar. Yes, the cellar, down the stairs in a warmly lit section of the establishment. I went here to meet up with a predestined group of others - a large group - so I didn't pay much attention to the rest of the crowd, but most people seemed to be the kind who like their Wheatbix with chocolate milk if you catch my drift. Are you catching it? Good, because I'm not either.
The pub does have the benefit of being out of the way. I do not mean that it's hard to get to I mean that its less touristy, more real deal. Other than that though, it's your English pub of today complete with all that such a status implies. It's a nice place to have a bite or a glass (but don't try to combine the two and bite the glass). It's like your next door neighbor in the movie Pleasantville - nice personality, but nothing out of the ordinary.
I'll let the five stars speak for themselves. Mostly.
It's an after work scene so don't come expecting anything else. It's Sam Smiths, great space, friendly bartenders, cheap food 'til 9pm. Not much else I want from a pub.
The Cittie of York is worth a visit for its interior alone - and, despite the olde worlde interior, all is not what it seems. A Grade II listed building, there has been a pub or drinking establishment on this site since the 15th century. In 1695 it became the Gray's Inn Coffee Shop (coffee shops being the 'in' places of their time) although it continued to sell wine and beer too - it was listed as a coffee house and tavern in 1819.
The site was redeveloped in the 1923-4 by the wine merchants George Henekey & Co., who also owned a chain of pubs. The Tudor interior is therefore a 20th century recreation, but done with great confidence: it actually incorporates elements (such as the fire) from earlier periods, but not the Tudor! Also fake is the name, which dates from 1979, when Sam Smiths took over the Henekey chain. The name evokes a long-vanished pub across the road in Staple Inn. The outside signage, the stained glass in the window overlooking the bar and the copper cartouches all date from this relatively recent refurbishment!
As you enter, the front bar is heavily and darkly panelled and, although unexceptional, quite comfy. The main room is actually behind, and this is built in the form of a large Tudor hall. There is a large counter on the left, above which are huge wine vats, supported on a shelf - a reminder of Henekey's original business, and thought to have still been in use until World War II. Opposite the bar are seven 'carrels', small enclosed seating boots rather like old railway compartments. These provide a more intimate and private drinking area for a small group of friends or couples. The final feature - and perhaps the most interesting - is the stove in the centre, which has three faces, and dates from 1815. It is rare in having an underground flue - the draught pulls the smoke back down and out!
Below all this is the former wine cellar area, now providing more seating.
The beer on my last visit was OK, if unexceptional, (I'm not the greatest fan of Sam Smiths, but at least it is cask-conditioned) and the staff were friendly and reasonably efficient. It does get very busy immediately after work, however, and what puts me off is that some of those City boys - whether lawyers or bankers I know not - can get very loud and brash, and lose all sense of personal space, when they've had a few. It does tend to quieten down a bit once they've moved on
I went to an SEO meetup at this pub and it is wonderful. We were in the cellar but the upstairs was absolutely fantastic!
If you have guests visiting and they want a spot of jolly ol England take them to this pub.
It is not the best pub in the world for service or food but ambiance more than makes up for it!
It's been a bit of a week of Sam Smith's pubs. Having reviewed The Chandos on Tuesday, I met up with some people in the Cittie of York on Wednesday. I know this pub pretty well, and like the interior (and, of course, the excellent prices).
The pub really has three sections - an upstairs bar at the front of the premises, all wood panelling and lounge-bar like, the high-ceilinged Great Hall-like bar at the back, with its lovely carved booths (though you need to get there early to acquire one!) and finally a rather labyrinthine cellar bar, with white painted low barrel-vaulting and the inscription In Vino Veritas.
The drink selection at SS pubs is always good, so long as you like their own brand stuff, but the food is rather average. Tip is stick to standard pub grub - I ordered meatball pasta, and it was bizarre: a smattering of meatballs and pasta in tomato and chickpea sauce spread thinly over a bowl of chips(!), two huge wodges of garlic bread, and a mix of salad leaves and coleslaw. If you count the chickpeas, that's four types of carbohydrate in one meal, so if you're off rowing/running maybe this is your dream meal. I was just confused.
They operate a funny system for food: you order, they give you some kind of electronic buzzer. It buzzes when the food is ready, you go and get it from the bar.
While the cellar bar is good, it lacks the ambience of the upper rooms, so do try and blag some space on the ground floor if you can.
Dropped by for some beers and was pleasantly surprised. I rarely go out in the Holborn area since I'm lazy, but found the trek worth it. I'm a fan of Sam Smith's pubs in general, as they do some pretty decent brew. However, the ambience of the place -- the cavernous rooms and the giant barrels (not to mention the triangular fireplace) -- make it a cool place to hang. There was an oddly high concentration of French speakers when I was there, and would be curious if they were regulars.
Food is not great, but I don't think you go there for the cuisine.
I met a friend here at the Cittie of York for a pint, which somehow turned into four pints and staying until the pub closed! It's a very atmospheric old pub. Others have noted the very long bar (the longest in Britain?). There is an interesting triangular metal fireplace, towards the middle of the ground floor of the pub, and some cool little booths along the walls. I think my favorite part (besides the pints!) is the surprisingly high ceiling, complete with beams. Very atmospheric.
Service wasn't outstanding, but it was more than adequate. The pub was quite crowded when we arrived (on a Tuesday night around 7), although of course the crowds thinned over the course of the evening.
I recommend a stop at the Cittie of York!
This fabulous pub is a Grade II listed building, harking back to the 15th century ... it's always been a drinking den, whether for coffee or beer. Very much an old haunt for anyone who works near Chancery Lane, you can just imagine ghost lawyers of yesteryear sitting in the cubicles towards the back of the pub, thrashing out deals for clients!
There are three main seating areas ... as you walk into the pub through the "alleyway" entrance, you can either turn left into a lounge bar, walk through past the hot food area and enter what would have been the original drinking-den with the cubicle areas, or go downstairs into the cavern-area. Easy to imagine smuggling going on when you are down there - be careful not to bump your head when you visit the downstairs toilets, too!
One charming feature of the pub is that it doesn't sell branded spirits or beers - instead every drink (even soft drinks) are Sam Smith's own brand. So if you ask for a JD and coke, you will be sorely disappointed - but instead, try their delicious cherry beer. It gets very busy in the back bar in the early evenings, but it always has a good atmosphere.
Food. I've always found the food to be of an OK quality, and you get quite a fair amount for your money (around £5.50 - £5.95 main meal). Chips are always a bit of strange one ... you can never tell how they will come out, nor how long you will have to wait.
TIP: If you are on a lunch-hour, always choose food which is on the hot plate in front of you - otherwise you will still be waiting 30 minutes on, when all your friends have finished!
The service is what I find lets the place down somewhat, which is why I've only rated it 3. Sullen and surly describes the staff mostly, 'tho there are a couple of gems tucked away!
This is my favourite Sam Smiths bar in London, even more so than Chandos on Trafalgar Square. It's unique layout and interesting history give it a quaint feeling that is so rare in places these days.
The vaguely impractical features around the place like the stove make it quite a unique area.
Being Sam Smiths means the bar prices are right too.
As with all SS pubs you will be guaranteed a half decent pint at a good price. So for me that's about 65% of the battle won.
Saying that this pub has a lot of history (links to Dickens etc) and the main bar is very impressive indeed. So all in all well worth a visit.
Cavernous old boozer on High Holborn that gets busy at lunch, attracts a good post-office crowd most evenings, and is one of the few pubs in the Chancery Lane area to open at a weekend - all pretty strong signs that it's a decent venue.
For real ale fans it's worth a punt as the well-priced Sam Smiths beers are always a good alternative to the wine-bar / pubco nature of the surrounding area. Food is reasonable, but you wouldn't go out of your way for it; as with the ale, typical SS - hearty, simple pub grub.
As other reviews note the biggest attraction is perhaps the history and architecture, which make it worth a visit alone. Uncommonly (and thankfully), 'poky' and 'uncomfortable' don't fit with the 'historic' description.
I find this pub a little weird. It seems like you step off the street and into a different time..
The first thing that strikes you is how dark and stale the air is inside. They have some nice booth style tables you can sit at, if you can find one free. I've been for lunch a couple of times with friends, but never been too impressed with what was on offer.. It's basically a cheap pub you could find in any town/suburb in the country. That being said, it is very unusual and worth at least one visit.
Oh, and be nice to the staff taking food orders it shouldn't, but it makes a BIG difference!
An old style Sam Smith's pub in the center of London. The pub has a few bars, a small front lounge bar, a large (almost stable type?) bar at the back and a cavern type bar downstairs. The decor is quite unique for a central London pub and it adds to the feel and atmosphere of the pub. I've only been to this pub on Fridays and it has always been very busy (as you'd expect), especially in the Lounge bar at the front.
Overall, a pub with good cheap beer and a good warm atmosphere, especially on a cold rainy evening. Great place for a beer and a chat after a long day at work.
I love all Sam Smith's pubs (goes without saying really for £2 pints in London) but this one is a bit special with its gloomy interior and historic style.
It's just down the road from my office and I've spent many (some might say too many) evenings in here enjoying both a quiet post-work drink and a very lively night out.
Situated in Holborn this is a great pub to bring tourist friends to. Architecturally fascinating both in the exterior and the interior. Inside the main bar area is like a mediaeval great hall, and to the side are tremendous little private booths which comfortably seat 4. They ought to serve mead really.
Sam Smith's pub so only Sam Smith's beers and generic label spirits and wine. Funnily enough they don't serve Sam Smith's Sovereign beer.
A great pub to bring people from out of town to, and a fascinating historic building
A Sam Smiths pub, so you pretty much know what you're getting in terms of the beer; although, I actually found a beer here on tap that I have never seen before in the Yorkshire Bitter. What I really loved about this place was the interior. I don't know whether it's authentic or not, but the feel of the place is great. Not totally sure how to describe it, though I would say it reminded me somehow of the Harry Potter movies. As with all Sam pubs the draft beer is dirt cheap, so that's nice. Bartender was pleasant. Absolutely worth a visit if you're in the area.
this review isn't for the range of food (although it's actually pretty okay fare) but more for the atmosphere and, really, sentimental value :P this is a great place where my friends and coworkers like to come to and wind down after work. it's confessional-type booths are fun to sit and chat in when you could get one... but it can get pretty crowded most days right around 5pm. there aren't really as many varieties on tap as i would like but for what they have, it's decent and the price of the drinks (compared to other places we've been too) is all right. on a busy night service can seem like a nightmare, especially when ordering, and sometimes will be frustrating. but come on a slow day/time and it's smooth sailing.
So this was my first experience at a London pub and it was very interesting. We had our school orientation here and tried there "sweet beer". It was definitely not your typical beer from the states but I'm just not a fan of beer. Nonetheless this pub is very spacey and has cute little tables and stools. Very "London-y". I loved the dark wood furniture and cabinets. It looked very cozy and intimate. It's a nice place to go if you want to just chit chat with friends or talk with your loved ones!
One of my favourite Sam Smith pubs. Came here first on a night out after the Whisky Show last year (October-ish?) with a pile of whisky mavens. The temperature outside had dropped a bit but it was warm inside without being stuff - primarily because one of the defining features of this pub is the seeming lack of doors between the road outside and the inside of the pub. You could literally ride in on a horse.
It's got high ceilings and like some of the other here have said, an olde worlde feeling to it. Not surprising, as it's Grade II listed and the original pub was built in 1430 (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ci…).
Also, it's a 4-pinter on FancyAPint: fancyapint.com/Pub/londo…
If you like Sam Smith draught (and I do) it doesn't get much better, or cheaper.
This is a nice old pub to meet up with friends. If you can get there early during the middle of the week, it's easy to stake out a place in the cellar for quite a large group. It has a nice selection of beer at good prices.
I agree with the other reviewers: this is a very cool place, even if for me it's mostly the interior that does it for me rather than the beer. The high ceiling, old feel and attention to detail, including old beer barrels, wood everywhere and private booths make it hard not to love this place. As mentioned, I wasn't too convinced by the pint of Sam Smiths (was it 'Original'? I remember it being 3.3%) I had, which seemed a little tasteless. There were however plenty of other beers that I'd go back to try out however.
Great pub with old-school character, semi-private dining booths and a convenient location just outside Chancery Lane tube station.
The beer selection is limited (Sam Smith's or Sam Smith's), as is the food. The menu looks really good, but there's a decent chance that more than half of it won't be available. I was there the other day with my mom and stepdad who were visiting from Boston and wanted some traditional pub grub, so we ordered the fish & chips, steak & ale pie and a toad in the hole. They advised us that they were in a "menu transition" and didn't have any of the above, and basically only had burgers, nachos (how authentic) and steak & kidney pie. Not that they were out of these items, mind you, they were just in some sort of menu transition and not serving them. The bartender even joked, "What are the odds that you would have ordered the only things we don't have right now?" Actually dude, they're quite high. Fish & chips? You're a pub and you're not serving fish & chips? And you've got steak & kidney pie but not steak & ale pie? You're just lucky that your pub is awesome enough for me to ignore what's hopefully just a temporary hiccup.
The Cittie of York is probably not worth making a special visit for, however if you do find yourself stranded in this part of town it's certainly worth a visit. Perhaps an old coach house or an old brewery, you can't really determine its origin although legend recalls it's been an inn since 1420, the building was rebuilt in 1645 and then again after it was burnt down in the 1890s , I just couldn't get over paying 120 shillings for a whiskey and coke, thank you Sam Smith!
This pub is pretty old school. Met Andy here for two pints before going to watch the cricket. Interesting old building and cheap beer. But it is totally FULL OF LAWYERS
One of the oldest pubs in Holborn, the Cittie of Yorke used to brew its own beer. Inside it is cavernous, with beautiful wooden butts, large windows and tiny wooden booths. It's a delight to visit just for the architecture, but has a decent selection of beer to keep everyone merry. I find its food quite disappointing and with the amount of choice in the area, would personally give that a skip. But it is excellent for good after-work-drinks or to po in with friends over the weekend when it quietens down as the City workers stay home.
I really like this bar. I think it's my new favorite despite the drunk guy that flashed his junk at everyone last time I was there.
There isn't a good wine selection and I had an immediate head ache, but the beer seems to be really good (and it has beer from York, for all you die-hards).
The feel was great. It was old and had lovely wood architecture that was quite-well kept over time. There are little private booths and living area couches. The people there are really nice.
I think you should go. Plus the beer is cheap.
This is how a pub should be! Really old fashioned with a touch of the gothic, I suspect if Harry Potter were old enough to get drunk this is where he would come. Its also not overcrowded, making it easy and speedy to get served, the prices arent too bad either!
Popular Samuel Smith pub, handy because it is close to work and cheap! It gets pretty busy, but you can't really complain because the beer is so inexpensive.
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