Published April 6, 2022 

Simpson’s Tavern – Ball Court

by Courtney Plank

If you are looking for a special place for a traditional lunch look no further than the charming Simpson’s Tavern, established in 1757 and still going strong. Down a cobbled pathway in the heart of the City, (the actual address is 38 ½ Cornhill) and in its own tiny courtyard, Simpson’s is said to be the oldest chop house in London.

Simpson's Tavern
Simpson’s Tavern ©2022 Pat Langford

The layout in this Grade II listed building has not changed since the 18th century. Downstairs is a bar and separate restaurant area, and upstairs is more dining (where the ladies’ loo is located – added as an afterthought when women were admitted in 1916). The seating is partly laid out as wooden panelled stalls and you may well have to share a table; historically this was a perfect setting for getting parties to finally agree a deal after an excellent shared lunch.  Note the roomy hat racks between each stall, from the days when bowler hats and silk top hats were a common sight here.  The tables are actually the underwriting tables from Lloyds, and each dining room has a Victorian tiled grill (now used for storage) and a marble topped table on which the slabs of meat were carved.

Simpson's wooden stalls with hat rack
Simpson’s wooden stalls with hat racks ©2022 Ildiko Bita

The menu is aimed at carnivores and contains meaty staples e.g. Barnsley chops and the charmingly chatty staff  really do ask if you’d like a sausage with every order. Stewed cheese is still on offer; this is a kind of welsh rarebit dish, and long served here and more vegetarian options will be available when the full menu returns.

Simpson's blackboard
Simpson’s mantra ©2022 Ildiko Bita

Simpson’s is one of the few pubs that retains the old City opening hours – last orders are 3.30pm. Rather wonderfully it is also open for breakfast from 8.30 Tues to Friday. Well worth treking down Ball Court and sampling this anachronistic delight.




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