The Clapton Hart
After an unhappy former incarnation as a bar on Hackney’s once notorious “Murder Mile”, this vast space has been brought back to life with a keen eye to Clapton’s latest arrivals: that means a large beer selection, hearty food and a tolerant attitude to children. The decorative approach might be described as advanced desiccation – with exposed brick and plaster, taxidermy and antique table football – but the seating, though arbitrary in style, is comfortable. Beneath its careworn appearance, this is a sharp operation at work.
231 Lower Clapton Road, E5 8EG; 020 8985 8124
The Craft Beer Co
With more than 30 beers on draught and three fridges stocked with bottles from small breweries, this is a pub aimed at aficionados – but connoisseurship is not obligatory. Formerly a rough and ready market pub, it has retained its original features, notably the mirrored ceiling marked with the hours of the day. But its atmosphere is modern, with high seating that feels a long way from the dark, slouchy pubs of old. (They also have branches in Brixton, Islington and Brighton.)
82 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TR
The Dean Swift
A few streets from Butler’s Wharf, this corner pub has been given a crisp, clean look, with white walls and wooden tables and chairs. It feels more like a restaurant than a pub but has a notable range of ale, both pump and bottled, as well as a good wine list. The food is hearty – snacks include piccalilli and toast and chips and aioli, with full meals available in a dining room upstairs.
10 Gainsford Street, SE1 2NE; 020 7357 0748
The Earl of Essex
Interesting and mostly successful blend of a US-style craft beer house and London pub. A large wall chart indicates the day’s beers, brewed here – evidence of which comes from the two hefty tanks behind the island bar. A pleasant garden provides a good amount of additional seating. Food is as Anglo-American as the rest: salt beef sandwich on rye, smoked BBQ ribs and, bringing it back home, the fish finger sandwich.
25 Danbury Street, N1 8LE; 020 7424 5828
An end to bickering over whether to go to the pub or the pictures, the Montpelier’s back room doubles as a cinema. You can see new independent releases and classics of a slightly arty bent for a bargain £3. Food and drink are good in this cheerful pub that’s been modernised and given a hint of the junk-shop aesthetic but with a light touch.
43 Choumert Road, SE15 4AR; 020 7635 9483
‘A London Pub for Every Occasion’, by Ben Olins and Herb Lester Associates, is published by Ebury (£9.99)