Many of the original features of the interior have been restored, including the mosaic floors and the chandeliers which hang from the rather grand ceiling. The walls are covered with old paintings and photographs, as well as the odd stuffed deer head. Mismatched fabric lampshades hang from the ceiling, and you can take the weight off at any number of mismatched tables and chairs in one of three spaces.
The overall effect? Like being in the country home of a bonkers relative (which is a good thing btw) but with the convenience of Zone 3, just minutes away from the tube. (While we like a rural scene for a day, maybe two, we generally prefer to know that central London is less than half an hour away).
Food is served seven days a week. Chef Rhian has transferred over from the Galvaniser’s Union in Bromley-by-Bow (one of our preferred watering holes outside E10 and E11), and recently introduced a new menu. The bar offering is a mixture of snacks such as soft boiled scotch eggs, pigs in blankets and frickles (beer battered pickles, for the uninitiated), and bigger dishes including sausage and mash, beer battered fish and chips, (bavette) steak and burgers.
In the dining room, however – which really does feel pretty glam at night – the food, which was always good, has gone next level, taking its cues from London’s hottest foodie happenings. On our most recent visit we tried soft, moreish crab beignets, which come with a crunchy apple celeriac remoulade; and a satisfyingly meaty potted duck, topped with duck scratchings, with pickled rhubarb and parsley shallot salad on the side. Big thumbs up for both.
For mains we loved – and rather regretted agreeing to share – the pan-fried hake, which straddled braised puy lentils, leek butter and parsley shallot breadcrumbs. And while we really wanted to love a conceptually interesting smoked haddock scotch egg with saffron risotto, despite an adornment of toasted almonds and curry oil the dish didn’t pack quite the same level of flavour as the hake.
To drink there’s naturally a well-curated selection of beers on tap – including Camden Hell’s and IPA from Crate in nearby Hackney Wick – and wines by the glass. We guzzled a hearty house red, the perfect foil to yet another freezing evening.
If you’re not eating, don’t fear, there are all sorts of goings on to keep you entertained. On Wednesdays book a table for the popular (and tough) pub quiz, there are DJs on a Friday and Saturday, plus regular comedy nights and live music. During the World Cup matches were played on a well-positioned large-enough-to-actually-see-what-was-going-on screen (none of that craning your neck to try and work out what’s actually happening on a teeny screen in the corner nonsense here). The function room also plays host to pop-up markets which local artists and crafty types sell their wares. In short, an excellent local boozer.