Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Pontack's Abchurch Lane


After the destruction of the White Bear Tavern, in the Great Fire of 1666, the proximity of the site for all purposes of business, induced M. Pontack, the son of the President of Bordeaux, owner of a famous claret district, to establish a tavern, with all the novelties of French cookery, with his father's head as a sign, whence it was popularly called "Pontack's Head." The dinners were from four or five shillings a head "to a guinea, or what sum you pleased."

Swift frequented the tavern, and writes to Stella:—"Pontack told us, although his wine was so good, he sold it cheaper than others; he took but seven shillings a flask. Are not these pretty rates?" In the Hind and Panther Transversed, we read of drawers:—

"Sure these honest fellows have no knack

Of putting off stum'd claret for Pontack."

The Fellows of the Royal Society dined at Pontack's until 1746, when they removed to the Devil Tavern. There is a Token of the White Bear in the Beaufoy collection; and Mr. Burn tells us, from Metamorphoses of the Town, a rare tract, 1731, of Pontack's "guinea ordinary," "ragout of fatted snails," and "chickens not two hours from the shell." In January, 1735, Mrs. Susannah Austin, who lately kept Pontack's, and had acquired a considerable fortune, was married to William Pepys, banker, in Lombard-street.

John Timbs
Club Life of London Vol. II
London, 1866