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Szechuan Publishing's guide to…eating in pubs in East Mayfair

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The hacks here are only a stone's throw from Oxford Circus where, to our dismay this morning, we saw six people dressed in Tropicana Bottles dispensing little cups of orange juice to the tourist masses. If there isn't a law against it, there should be. Oxford Circus attracts hordes of people at this time every year and there is a veritable mass of hucksters ready and willing to take advantage of their tourist dollars. What's worse, is that ye Olde Englishe Pubbe may be alive, but Oxford Circus is not necessarily the place to find it or goode Olde Englishe Fare. As residents round das Capital, we are, however in a position to give you, foreign tourists, valuable information about the drinking spots hereabouts. So here goes... The Old Monk This is only three or four doors down from Szechuan Publishing's offices and is a modern kind of a place with pine tables, good clean toilets and a bill of fare which is long. However, the food, while functional, is nothing special and probably merits the same star rating as the Clachan (above). The Masons Arms Two or three doors down from the Old Monk (above), is this place, which a little like Libertys, has one of those oak beamed fronts that might persuade tourists to enter therein. The Masons has an eatery above, but in our opinion, merits only one star in Szechuan's list of desirable places to have an English-style pub lunch. However, The Masons has a dingy ambience all of its own and the beers it serves are perfectly acceptable belowstairs. The Clachan This is an interesting pub just behind Liberty's, a London department store to which many people flock over summer. Billing itself as a Scottish pub (it isn't, it's a Nicholson's Free House), it also offers lunch fare, and at the bottom of the blackboard says the food is recommended by a San Diego newspaper. We've tried the food there, and although it's comparatively inexpensive, we would not rate it more than two stars. The Windmill Some might confuse the pub of this name, also off Maddox Street, with a place in Soho which had the proud boast during the Second World War that "it never closed". However The Windmill offers excellent food and beers in both smoking and non-smoking rooms, at a very reasonable price. All of The Register's staff who have eaten and drunk there, vote it highly. We give it four and a half stars. The French Horn and Black Flag We get confused sometimes to the title of this hostelry. It is just off Maddox Street in the delightfully named Pollen Street. The staff are unfailingly helpful, the beers are just fine, and although we haven't tried the food, it's probably OK too. On the basis we haven't tried the food, we'll have to award this one two stars too... Next week...Soho proper pubs... ®

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