With its central location, and cosier surroundings than some of its chain-restaurant neighbours, the Wig and Pen offers a safe option for anyone looking to get a quick, cheap meal en route to the theatre, or for a Friday-night watering hole they can hope to find a seat at.
The size of the venue means that even at peak times there is a pleasingly bustling atmosphere, yet still space for everyone at the table. The staff are thoroughly efficient: queue time at the bar was short, as was the wait for the food to arrive, which my colleague and I were especially grateful for as we were in a slight rush to catch a play. At the same time, they were friendly enough that a more leisurely stay didn't seem like it would be an inconvenience, even in such a popular spot.
The bar was well-stocked, with an array of bottles filling out the seemingly endless shelves. I tried one of the guest ciders, which was rhubarb-flavoured. A slightly bizarre choice, which didn't complement my meal but was perfectly drinkable in and of itself, with a sugary aftertaste very like the Rhubarb and Custard boiled sweets.
Choosing our seats upstairs, my companion and I took in the inoffensive decor - while not exactly ambient, the place is lit as warmly as possible for such a cavernous space, and there are a few vintage touches to the otherwise functional furniture, such as some huge chandeliers.
The size of the pub is matched by the range of dishes available, ensuring that anyone can find something they would enjoy - unless they were particularly snobby. The menu is largely dominated by pub classics - burgers, bangers, fish and chips and their vegetarian-friendly counterparts. My companion opted for a cheese and bacon burger which was well-assembled and cooked just right: I noted with envy that his fries were the crispy, skinny kind, while my meal was accompanied by less exciting chunky chips.
Since it was a cold midwinter evening, I had been on the hunt for pie, and the Wig and Pen happily delivered on this front, with a gloriously stodgy beef and red wine number. In addition to the disappointing chips, the pie was accompanied by a small mound of seasonal veg, which tasted fresh enough to balance out the hefty carbs from the main. Such stodge was almost exactly what I had been searching for - sturdy pastry, well-filled with satisfying chunks of meat - although I didn't quite get the tang of the red wine. In this case, functionality seemed to take precedence over flavour somewhat, although the food still very much served its purpose as comforting sustenance.
With such an extensive menu, it is unsurprising that some dishes will turn out better than others, and at such reasonable prices for the City centre (our dinner of 2 mains, sides and drinks came in at just over £25), the occasional dud can be overlooked. The variety on offer ensured a satisfying and convenient meal overall; I would recommend this venue as a good choice if you have a big group of diners who can't decide on a cuisine.