When a pub closes, as this one did way back in 1989, the worst thing that can happen to it is to be turned into a Tesco Metro. Next bad, demolition, followed by change of use to chicken shop or bookies. But sometimes, a pub comes back from the dead. Not in a creepy, zombie way, but a joyous, on-the-third-day style. And here is one of these born-again boozers – following wilderness years as a Chinese restaurant and a leather wholesaler, the Well and Bucket is once again brimming over with beer.
A lot of care has been spent restoring the big room to resemble a pub once again. The Victorian tiling was once noted across London for its splendour; it now looks a bit battleworn, but is brilliantly atmospheric. Close your eyes and you can imagine the place packed with porter-drinking, pipe-smoking, H-dropping Cockneys of yesteryear.
Phantom East Enders might be a bit unfamiliar with the huge array of craft beers on offer, which includes about 18 on tap. The fine selection ranges from Kent’s Caveman Brewery Citra to Little Creatures from Western Australia. They’d be mad for the oysters on the food menu, although the sliders (barbecued aubergine, for instance, or braised beef brisket) would have them baffled. They’d also be shocked by what’s going on downstairs – the vaulted cellar has been turned into the 5cc Cocktail Club.
This dark and hidden-away bar serves proper, grown-up cocktails, the sort that leave you in no illusion that you’re drinking alcohol. Rare spirits are shaken by enthusiastic chaps into fine glassware – we loved the Koko Verde, with kiwi, coconut rum and lime; the sazerac was great too. The Well and Bucket is a resurrection to celebrate, and not just at Easter.