What’s Pepper’s Ghost really like?

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It’s the revamped boozer on the northern end of High Road Leyton. Miranda Eason popped by

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Inside Pepper's Ghost. Photo: PR
Inside Pepper’s Ghost. Photo: PR
A Leyton pub formerly known as Shoe Laces and before that the Prince of Wales, Pepper’s Ghost opened last month following a floor-to-ceiling refit by new owners, behemoth pub group Punch. It’s named after a ghostly illusion technique that blew people’s minds back in the day and was popularized by a bloke called John Henry Pepper who lived locally.

You’ll find Pepper’s Ghost at the corner of High Road Leyton and Capworth Street, just before High Road Leyton turns into Hoe Street. Expect a 30-minute walk (give or take) from Leyton tube. It’s not the prettiest of locations to be honest, and the beer garden – which is tacked on one side of the pub with views of the busy crossroads and flats beyond, surrounded by cage-like railings – will surely attract only the most hardened of smokers during the winter months.

The exterior of the pub has been given a smart blue-and-white paint job, with Pepper’s Ghost spelled out in gold lettering. Once through the doors, you walk immediately into the large main room, and there’s a connected smaller, narrower room at the back. The dark wood bar takes up most of one wall, and tables are a mixture of heights and sizes, surrounded with a variety of seating options, including high stools, benches and a built-in corner sofa.

Smarter: exterior. Photo: PR
Smarter: exterior. Photo: PR
In the back room one wall is covered with a painting of the Pepper’s Ghost illusion in action, and decorative touches around the place include a globe, and black and white photographs of the area in days gone by. Lighting is provided by a fancy modern copper-and-bare-bulb designer affair and low-hanging jam jar lights, which give the airy space a cosy feel.

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Behind the bar there’s a reasonable choice of wines, but the beer selection doesn’t rep local breweries as much as some other pubs in the area, with Becks, Doom Bar, Estrella and Yakima on tap. Drinks are keenly priced, however, with wines starting at £3.90 for 175mls and beers starting at £3.50 for Doom Bar, rising to £4.30 for Estrella.

The rare tuna nicoise. Photo: Miranda Eason
The rare tuna nicoise. Photo: Miranda Eason
Food-wise, there are two menus – one lists bar snacks, light bites and sandwiches, the other burgers. We roadtested both, ordering a tuna nicoise (£8.95) and a Ghost Burger (£8.45). The tuna nicoise was everything you’d hope for in the classic dish, perfectly-seared fresh tuna, beans with the requisite crunch, black and green olives and well-cooked new potatoes with exactly the right amount of dressing.

The Cajun-spiced burger came topped with jalapenos in a brioche bun, and a side of chunky chips. Pretty good for the price, with chorizo and chipotle jam a super-tasty addition.

With a background in events, co-manager Jeff is hitting up his contacts list to ensure the decks are manned by top DJ talent. The night we visited the speakers were going in and were all set to be covered in disco-tastic gold lame.

With plans for a Monday night film club, a quiz night and DJs Thursday through Saturday, Pepper’s Ghost is a solid addition to the nearly-Walthamstow end of Leyton and, if the half hour walk is putting you off, the savings you’ll make on drinks mean you can totally justify an Uber home.

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Find Pepper’s Ghost at 777 High Road, Leyton, E10 5AB. Sunday–Thursday 12 noon–11pm. Friday and Saturday, 12 noon–12pm.
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