It’s interesting how there are pubs with the same name throughout London. I’m sure I’ve seen another Marquis Cornwallis around town aside from the one I’ve been to in Bloomsbury, but I can’t remember exactly where. Oh well, no matter, as this entry of the 100 Pubs Project isn’t concerning itself with those other Cornwallises, but this one.
The Marquis Cornwallis is a pub I passed by during my first week in London while staying at the five-star accomodations known as The Generator, sharing a room with a rotating cast of three young men from countries afar. Because I walked along Marchmount often, I would pass the Marquis walking from Russell Square tube station. Never went in, though, as money was quite tight and I knew I needed to hold onto my funds for flat-hunting trips and to eventually buy silverware and the things one tends to need when starting over in a new city.
When I began classes at SOAS, classmates in my Issues of Anthropology of Food course (aka ‘Foodies,’ for the most part) would often go for a drink after our Friday evening classes. On such a day, I somehow led my classmates to The Marquis Cornwallis. We had gotten in at a good time, just before the working stiffs sauntered out of their jobs and before the nightcrawlers came out to booze, and managed to secure prime territory before the fireplace in the upstairs drawing room. This was before fireplaces began to be used this year, so it wasn’t really a warm spot to sit so much as that we looked quite cool sitting there, a mix of British, American, Canadian and Italian Master’s students from SOAS. My friend and colleague David ordered chips that came with a side of the house’s ‘Bloody Mary ketchup.’ My side of chips that came with my veggie burger came with the same ketchup, which, to me, didn’t seem particularly remarkable. The veggie burger was good, from what I remember, but also messy, as most veggie burgers at pubs tend to be from my experience.
Since that day, I’ve had pasta at the Marquis (good, but small-portioned) and, most recently, a bowl of vegetable soup. This most recent trip was made with James, who was on the hunt his last night in London for fish and chips. We were on our way to the North Sea chipper, which was a walk further than what James and I were keen on making at the time. It was raining, James was having ankle issues, and the back of my heels were getting bit into by the shoes I was wearing. A rain-stained A-board outside The Marquis Cornwallis promised, among other things, the fish and chips my fellow American was after.
So, in we went into the warm bosom of the Cornwallis, where we secured an end of a long table for pint and pubbery. James went to the bar, was gone a bit, and then came back.
“No fish & chips.”
“No fish & chips?”
“No fish at all.”
Damn. Oh well. Our Anglophile opted for a steak and ale pie instead. Or maybe it was a steak and kidney pie. I can’t recall, to be honest. Either way, it wasn’t fish & chips, but in the end, James did eat it up anyway, and he said it was good. It seemed to be a good healthy portion, with a side of vegetables and mash that were quickly devoured upon arrival. I was still sick at the time, so my appetite was light. Although I was tempted to get a vegetarian burger, I went with the winter vegetable soup at £2.95, which was cheaper than my pint of Old Rosie cider. The pint of cider was £3.40, which has seemed to be the standard price for a pint at most of the pubs I’ve been to so far on this project.
Now, the Old Rosie and I have a bit of history, being that I had two or three glasses one night on a relatively empty stomach. Hilarity ensued. I managed, with a bit of help, to get water and food in me eventually, negating Old Rosie’s effects just in time for everyone else around me to get really drunk. More hilarity ensued. So, getting the Old Rosie again was slightly daunting, but since I was eating, I thought I’d be fine. Interestingly, the Old Rosie wasn’t properly on tap, as the pubman behind the counter wound up pouring up some cider for me out of what seemed to be a box. Americans, you know boxed wine? Yeah, it was like that. In any case, I don’t think the Old Rosie pint I had was any worse off for it being served that way.
The winter vegetable soup, served with three simple slices of bread and a dollop of cream, was delicious–a perfect remedy for a rainy London day when you’ve been fighting with the wind from turning your umbrella inside-out. Sometimes one gets soup at a restaurant or cafe and they make the soup way too salty, or it’s too runny. This soup was lovely with just the right amount of density, having its veg pureed to perfection, and I would definitely order it again. However, soup cannot withstand the stout punch of the Old Rosie, and since I hadn’t been drinking much due to my cold, the Old Rosie did manage to get me a bit tipsy. A small amount of hilarity ensued, as James began to be a bit concerned that I wouldn’t know how to get back to my friend Aru’s house. A silly concern, as I’m quite familiar with Bloomsbury, and I only had one measly pint, but it was James’ last night, and he did have to get up early in the morning to contend with the fun new checks airport security had newly devised.
The Marquis Cornwallis, or The Marquis of Cornwallis, has a website, so if you are looking to see how it stacks up to your local pubby, there’s a map and a menu and everything. I did notice that the menu was going to change on the 10th of January, so I will probably have a look-see at how the new menu stacks up. I’ll be in the area of Bloomsbury so long as I continue to take classes at SOAS, so The Marquis will likely see me again.