Part 1 - BelgraviaThe first stop on this tour is The Star Tavern, west of Belgrave Square, at the north-western end of Belgrave Mews West (the German embassy is at the other end). This is one of the select bunch of pubs which have been in all editions of the Good Beer Guide, like our own Queens Head in Newton. On my visit, being lunchtime, and having famously good beer and food, all seats were taken, with a mix of clientele. They had a new Fullers seasonal on: Mr Harry (£1.55/half) - rich, malty - superb.
After a slight zigzag to the east, head northwards up Kinnerton Street. Toward the top end is The Nag's Head. (Jerry Brown sampled its delights in ALE 330, although wrongly locating it in Mayfair.) Upon entering, one sees an odd-looking low-level bar about three feet high, with low stools around it. When the staff appear, one sees why: the pub is on three levels. On the staff side of the front bar, the floor is lower than the customer side, being reached by a step up from the next-door lower bar area. There's also an upper seating area.
On this visit the handpumps had Adnams Bitter and Broadside (£1.70/h) and Bitburger. The walls of the front bar are covered with all sorts of nicknacks and especially showbiz-related pictures with the likes of Robbie Williams and Bono. There are lots of cartoons about the pub and old machines such as the peepshow "Life like presentations from London, Paris and New York in 3D. Still pictures." There's a no-mobile-phone policy. Fats Waller jazz was playing quietly.
Backtracking and crossing Belgrave Square leads to Chester Street. The first right there is Wilton Street and ahead on the corner with Little Chester Street is the Grouse & Claret. As the front bar was busy, I went to the spacious rear bar, with wood and glass panelling. Very quiet music was playing - how rare these days. King & Barnes Sussex Bitter, Badger Bitter, Tanglefoot, and Fursty Ferret (£1.55/h) were on.
Next head northwards along Grosvenor Place (with the back wall of Buckingham Palace across the road) to Hyde Park Corner. To get to the north side of Piccadilly, one has to negotiate the pedestrian-unfriendly roads and subways.
Part 2 - MayfairEastwards along Piccadilly the dip in the road indicates the course of the River Tyburn as it flows into Green Park, of which more later. Note the the disused Tube station in Down Street - the distinctive arch of dark red tiling. The station's tunnels were used in WW2 to house the National Railway Committee.
To the right of the junction there are a variety of shops such as Beaux Caesar statuary and William Curley chocolatier. Head on up to Curzon Street.
Turn left and then right, up Chesterfield Street. This whole area is a paradise for blue plaque spotters.
Further up Waverton Street at the junction with Farm Street is The Punchbowl. Yet another traditional pub, moderately busy.
Past the Punchbowl is an alley past a redbrick school building leading to Mount Street Gardens, which was also used in Joe's Palace. There are some interesting features in the Gardens, for instance the commemorative bench to "the American who could not find a park like this in New York City".
Leave the Gardens by the western entrance and turn right along South Audley Street. Across the road are the Spy and Counterspy shops.
Carry on northwards along South Audley Street and cross Grosvenor Square. There are various US-related memorials here. Leave the square via Brook Street and head eastwards. Turn left into South Molton Lane and at the junction with Davies Mews is the southern section of Grays Antiques Market. This is closed at weekends but in the basement the River Tyburn forms a water feature.
Return down South Molton Lane and carry on along Avery Row, noting the slope of the Tyburn valley. Turn left and cross New Bond Street.
Carrying further on leads back to Piccadilly.
(Bus 9 goes east to Trafalgar Square and on to Aldwych, or west to the museum quarter in Kensington, with some Routemaster buses operating.)