East London Food & Culture

So you’ve never been to…The Duke, Wanstead

It's arguably Wanstead's best food pub, right? Plus two more brilliant boozers to visit in E11's leafiest corner

Age: Ooh, this one goes back a fair few years. 2014, was it…or maybe 2015?

Where exactly is it? In a particularly attractive backwater of charming Wanstead. If you cross over the high street at the corner where Gail’s Bakery is, you’ll find the sloping Nightingale Lane. Follow it down, past an attractive green and parade of shops: here you’ll spy characterful corner boozer, the Nightingale On The Green (below), itself worth at least a snifter; then curve around the street for a couple more minutes and you’ll reach your destination.

The Nightingale: have a pint here first. Photo: SE

OK. So what goes on there? Sister to the Leytonstone Tavern, The Duke is rather more traditional in vibes than its urban E11 sister, and its menu is also more grow-up (no tacos or towering burgers here, hipsters!)

What should I eat? The weekday menu is pure gastropub feels, with small plates like crab on toast, or wild boar terrine, and cod and steak for mains, while the Sunday roasts fire all the usual big guns. Our asked-for extremely rare aged sirloin came meltingly pink, with al dente veg, a pillowy Yorkshire and slightly too-pale roast potatoes. Roast pork belly was arguably more flavour-packed, with a real umami thwack in the skin. House red was decent, too. It’s perfect no-brainer weekend nosh.


Tender roast beef. Photo: SE

The interior: discuss. An Edwardian corner building, it’s all panelling, tiles and stripped wooden floors, with cosy corners and Covid-friendly outdoor spaces, all partially covered and heated. We sat in the yard under the blaze of the red wall heater –  which was actually needed just before the current heatwave kicked in.

What’s the service like? This is what elevates the pub in our minds. Service on each visit – even just for a pint – has always been really warm and friendly, with lots of banter, and extremely accommodating staff throughout. Big tick.

The Duke
Elegant: inside The Duke. Photo: SE

Where can we go next on our Wanstead crawl? If you’ve already had an aperitif at the Nightingale, try The Bull up on the high street: its pavement facing garden is huge with more than enough room to drink socially distanced, and a nice buzz to boot.

Do say: ‘How about a swift hike over Wanstead Park and along the Ornamental Waters first, darling?’

Don’t say: ‘Let’s just check on Rightmove: there must be a shoebox we can afford round here.’

The Duke, 79 Nightingale Lane, E11 2EY, more here

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