The Puzzle Pub
39 Grays Inn Road, Holborn, London, WC1X 8PR
One out of Five stars
Located a virtual stone's throw away from High Holborn, and just across the road from the ITN building towering over Gray's Inn Road, this particular branch of the Puzzle chain pulls in the usual after-work punters, as well as a more local crowd from the surrounding area.
Throughout the peak hours of the week, The Puzzle offers a basic Pizza Nights menu featuring 12" thin bases with a modest range of toppings including Cajun Chicken, Jalapenos and Red Onion and Bacon, Sausage, Mushrooms and Sliced Tomato. It’s probably best sticking to the big pizza chains however, as the selection of choices tend to be dry and bland, with a sparse smattering of toppings.
The Puzzle also offers a range of pub staples, including steak sandwiches, burgers and the obligatory pasta dish, as well as a paltry choice for vegetarians. The choice for carnivores is varied and prices are reasonable, but the menu contains nothing to write home about.
To quench the thirst of the sports-watching crowds, Stella and Carling are on tap. A selection of cheap and cheerful wines are available by the glass, or bottle. Brand named spirits are also aplenty, including good value deals on doubles and mixers.
Kitted out in bargain basement Swedish-look furniture, The Puzzle’s pine decor still manages to give the air conditioned pub a sauna-like quality. Arrive between the hours of 5pm and 7pm to find The Puzzle packed to the rafters, however, late evening drinkers should be prepared for a more solitary drinking experience.
Puzzle by name and nature, a giant Connect 4 and other games are on offer in the back section of the pub, but seem to be collecting dust rapidly.
The Last Word
If you enjoy sticky floors and doors and inattentive staff, The Puzzle is for you. However, the real puzzle is why anyone would want to subject themselves to this, particularly when there are two J.D Wetherspoon branches, with equally good value drinks and more reliable levels of service and quality, only a five minute stroll away.
Reviewed by - James Fryer.
This article was published on ViewLondon.co.uk in the summer of 2005 and can be found here.