Troubadour | A Historic South West London Café & Live Music Venue
Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix can all claim the same thing.
Yes, that they’re great musicians, that’s obvious, but also that they played their first London show at Troubadour.
Opened in 1954 by Michael and Sheila van Bloemen as a bohemian café (it’s one of the last surviving coffee shops of that era), Troubadour is – as you can see – a historic venue that acted as a favourite haunt for the city’s creatives; from poets to writers and musicians. It got the troubadour name from the songwriters of the middle ages who used to travel from place to place, banjo over the shoulder, composing folk melodies for crowds. Many of the famous musicians who called London home in the 60’s – the three above, plus the likes of Charlie Watts (the Rolling Stones drummer) and Joni Mitchell – discovered the underground basement’s great gig-potential, and from there it grew into one of the city’s more storied live music venues.
Located on the Old Brompton Road, in Earl’s Court, it’s an easy place to notice thanks to its mediaeval French-village-style facade, with bentwood chairs and gingham-clothed table arrangements out the front. The much-talked about front door, which looks like it could lead you into an Elven kingdom, was hand-carved by Michael when the Troubadour was first established. After admiring his handwork, make your way inside where you can clearly tell they love their music here, as a museum-like collection of antique instruments hangs from the walls and ceiling. In fact, Troubadour’s whole antique collection of lanterns, crockery and more that’s been amassed over the years is pretty impressive…
The food is your familiar British pub fare with slight foreign influences; shepherd’s pie, bangers & mash, mac & cheese, sticky toffee pudding (their signature), with sides like slow-cooked baby back ribs and braised brisket sliders served on a baguette with dill mayo. There’s brunch as well, with various egg-based dishes (including huevos rancheros and an English breakfast) that can be accompanied by a jug of bloody Mary. It might not be reinventing the wheel, but it’s crowd-pleasing stuff that’ll fill you up and leave a good impression taste-wise, too.
Drinks then cover all bases with options aplenty for both the cocktail and beer-minded, and there’s also the welcome addition of a beer garden out the back where you can enjoy everything on candle-lit tables surrounded by fairy lights and greenery. Random rumour: Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton once had lunch here.
As for the live music, that lives on in the basement 60 years later, after a couple of renovations and a size boost (the capacity is now 120). While the big big names are no longer a regular feature, there’s two nights a week of free (yes, free) jazz, and every other night you can expect a ticketed performance spanning many genres, including folk, reggae and pop. If you’re in a band, you can even put in a request to perform at Troubadour – right here.
And then claim the same thing as Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix…
NOTE: Troubadour is open daily. You can make a booking, see what live music is on and purchase tickets to shows here.
Troubadour | 265-267 Old Brompton Rd, London SW5 9JA
A fan of the pub and gig combo? Then you might like to peruse our guide to the best bars in London with live music