By Euan Ferguson
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have looked at this pub frontage many a time from the top deck of a night bus out of Liverpool Street and thought: why has a pub between the City and Shoreditch been boarded up for 12 years? Chances are you’re nothing like me and have never done that, but you should be pleased it’s open again anyway. It’s an old, old pub – the ‘shuttle’ in the name refers to part of the weaving apparatus used by local Huguenots. The pub used to be in such a sorry state that it looked as if it had been shut for a century. That shows you what Shoreditch High Street and the steady trundle of diesel-engined buses does for the complexion.
The craftsmen who refitted the Crown & Shuttle in 1885 would wonder why their no-doubt scrupulously applied plasterwork has been cleared out leaving only the scrupulously erected Victorian brickwork on show, but that’s the fashion these days, and I doubt the 1990s were kind to the pub’s inside anyway. The ’90s weren’t kind to anyone’s insides for that matter.
There’s a big shiny tank beside the bar dispensing Meantime’s ‘brewery fresh’ London lager, which is unpasteurised, unfiltered, delivered by petrol-style tankers and matured on the premises. How does this revolutionary drink taste? I can’t tell you: it had run out (Guy can though). Luckily there are plenty more to choose from, on tap and in bottle. With a beer offer as extensive as the Crown’s, it’s essential the staff are clued-up enough to help you through it. On my visit, unfortunately, they weren’t.
C & S website describes the staff as a ‘bunch of good-looking riff-raff’. I can confirm that they were good looking, although on their social standing I can’t comment. The pub’s new, so I’m sure by the time it settles into a groove they’ll all be regular beer buffs.
The rest of the pub more than makes up for it. The lack of a kitchen has been solved with ingenuity – in the spacious and rather cool garden stands a mobile catering unit, or ‘food truck’ as it’s now cool to call them. Chefs send out interesting, often ale-fuelled dishes such as crispy duck pitta with raspberry beer and beetroot, or smaller things such as chicken wings with mango salad, or the much more Victorian-sounding pickled cockles.