Something’s stealing the spotlight at the National Theatre.
And surprisingly, it’s the Understudy.
Tucked underneath the South Bank’s brutalist icon, it’s a cosy bar specialising in craft beer that’s perfect for a riverside pint or pre-theatre drink.
Inside, it slots into its industrial home nicely with a wood panelled bar, enormous copper piping (hooking up a tank of Meantime beer directly to the bar), and a collection of tables and chairs that wouldn’t look amiss in a Scandinavian lumberjack’s office.
But the Understudy’s major selling-point – besides being one of the bewilderingly few bars along London’s most cultural stretch – is the sprawling riverside terrace. All year round, tables and chairs spill out onto the South Bank itself, for festoon-lit views of the river and the London skyline. In winter, gaggles of arty types huddle round warming mugs of cider and mulled wine; in summer, a temporary stage is set up for live music, comedy and cabaret while you knock back a spritz.
Regular events at the Understudy include tap takeovers from craft breweries, and their monthly quiz night (on the first Tuesday of the month). Best of all, though, is Board Game Sunday – where you get a free drink every time you crush your friends at Scrabble.
Which is what we call a double win.
NOTE: The Understudy is open daily from noon till late (1am Thurs-Sun). You can find out more, and book a table (though that’s not necessary), right HERE.
The Understudy | National Theatre, Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PX
Looking for somewhere more romantic? Try Lyaness, a bit further along