There are loads of good pubs called The Bricklayers Arms. And this one, may not be the canonical best of the bunch. Yet again its a Sam Smiths, yet again its in Fitzrovia and yet again we have spent too much time in there to be in anyway objective about it. But let me remind you that this list is not for the best beer, or the comfiest pub. It is a coincidence of the right night in the right place with the right company. So perhaps I should also be reviewing the best drinking partners too.

The thing about the Brickies is that it has , like the good Sam Smiths of the turn of the millennium, two very distinct areas for drinking. Downstairs, it is bright, breezy, small and – well – bricky. A nice central bar which splits the downstairs into the poky one table back room and the only slightly bigger four table front area. Downstairs is a place for plotting, for a quick pint after a film, or a night spiralling out of control (the Brickies is of course fantastically close to the Spanish Bar). Downstairs I have seen some appalling pub behaviour from the best of friends, I have seen pranks played, I have sat rolling my eyes at another play of Kid A* as we make the most blatant table grab in history scaring off two poor shopgirls. Downstairs is business turning to pleasure. Oh and dodging the dartboard too.

Upstairs, well upstairs is one of the few places I approve of sofas in the pub. The real problem with sofas is that they are often difficult to get in and out of, especially while drinking. You sink into a hole, and you end up resembling an some sort of woodpecker rocking back and forth for your pint. Low slung leather sofas, picked to give the vibe of a gentleman’s club end up giving the vibe of a dormitory. Upstairs at the Bricklayers though eschews the leather sofas for a more robust, harder set of sofas, around some equally solid glass topped coffee tables. You can drink upstairs, be comfortable and it not feel wrong. And also the sofas a re set up for big groups, making it easy to turn into yet another garrulous session. More relaxed than downstairs, around the fire maybe, in the dark comfort of the upstairs. Unless…

There is one more mode of drinking at the Bricklayers, and it involves the very odd corner by the bar. The bar swoops round, has a couple of stools but barely enough room for more than a couple of people. And yet in that corner you seem to be able to fit no end of people slowly going mad. Yet again the pub provides the perfect air for vertical drinking too. As hard to find as a central London pub can be, at the end of Stephen Street off Tottenham Court Road, the Bricklayers has been all things to me. Tall, skinny, perhaps unprepossessing (the highest pub name in London?) Fancy a pint?

*It does seem a lot of our fond early noughties pub memories do rotate around inappropriate uses of Radiohead in pubs.