Possibly one of the best pubs around, and everyone certainly seems to think so judging on how busy it gets. People come from near and far to visit the place - even people with no interest in pubs or ale.
I must've walked past 100s of times when it was in its previous incarnation - a very no frills basic lager & Sky Sports locals' pub by all accounts. As shown above, and love it as I do now I do wish I had seen it before. One of the reasons to try to visit every pub we have before they go - or change. It's near name-sake the Lord Southampton is worth a look before it goes one of these two ways.
I first went in not long after it re-opened, in early 2010 I think. Had a few pints and was suitably impressed. I was on my way to another boozer, and when I got there excitably told the manager there where I'd been and why it was so great. "Ohhhhh" he said, sucking air through his teeth "I really wish them well, but I for just would never go in a pub that doesn't sell Guinness - and I'm not the only one." It is the only pub I know that doesn't stock Guinness or similar stouty type branded beer. And these days sometimes you can hardly move in the place.
Lots of ales, lots of ciders. One lager. Some cheap & cheerful basic snacking food. What more do you need served in a pub? The staff are nice, and the gaffer a decent fellow. I've never had a bad pint, the only time when I had one I really didn't like - on the gaffer's advice as it happens - he changed it for another. They look after the regulars here, and there's a good bunch of them.
It gets lots of pub tourists - the ale-loving Camra lot, the "Gee - ain't it quaint, they have a record player and serve beer in pots!" and worse of all young trendy knobheads who treat the place as a novelty pub for parties and the like. These are very annoying. As are the families who come in treating like a creche - if a child is in a pub it should be quiet, and certainly shouldn't be running about. The smoking ban has a lot to answer for!
The only problem is that the music is often too loud. And when the pub gets busy, and noisy, they have a habit of turning it up more. So people talk more loudly... etc etc. Not much fun for the Mutt & Jeff amongst us. At least the thrice-weekly live music makes up for it.
If you base your favourite pub on where you spend the most time & money, then this will be it for me. It stopped me being a regular in the Bree Louise, and stops me seeing lots of other pubs. It also costs me a bloody fortune!!PS. This is a replacement for The Bar, which after careful examination of the Borough borders turned out to be just over in Westminster. Oops.