When much-loved Devonshire Road pub The Hob closed down earlier this year, it left a bit of a hole in Forest Hill – and not just among those with a thing for cheap lager. Though unremarkable as a pub, its comedy nights were among the best in southeast London, regularly pulling in A-list gagsmiths for intimate warm-up gigs. In an all-too-familiar story, the people behind the comedy nights have been pushed out to The Star in Plumstead, and The Hob has been replaced by The Signal, where humour isn’t the only thing in short supply.
Presumably in an attempt to keep the former regulars onside, the beer selection is conservative. There were two local cask ales (Brixton’s Effra Ale and Kinsale bitter from Peckham’s Brick Brewery) when we visited, but few interesting options on keg or in the fridge. Decor feels calculatedly inoffensive, as does the soundtrack of Britpop bangers. Even the bar service was cold and seemed uninterested. Overall, it feels a bit like an over-achieving, middle-class Wetherspoons.
Of course, how much you warm to The Signal depends a lot on who you are. Hungover couples will appreciate full brunch and Sunday lunch menus. Parents will appreciate the family friendly vibe and small, covered patio (though perhaps not the huge roaring fire, if their kids have a habit of wandering off). People with oddly specific ethical concerns will appreciate that rotisserie chickens (served in a more formal dining area upstairs) are reared on a walnut-tree farm and roasted over untreated English charcoal.
Don’t get us wrong – food, provenance and somewhere to smoke a fag are all admirable qualities in a pub. But in covering so many bases, The Signal falls short on character. And this is perhaps the most important aspect of a neighbourhood boozer. We’d think nothing of such an operation in Covent Garden or Canary Wharf, but surely SE23 hasn’t sold its soul just yet? That really would be no laughing matter.
7 Devonshire Rd
|Opening hours:||Mon - Fri 12 - 10 Sat 12 - 10 Sun 12 - 9|
|Transport:||Forest Hill Overground|
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Average User Rating
4.8 / 5
- 5 star:5
- 4 star:1
- 3 star:0
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:0
Love it.. An improvement from the old place. Great atmosphere, super friendly staff who remember your name and the food is top class!! Whether you're with your child(ren), mates or partner there is a lovely layout to hang out and have a great time in a fabulous environment. Mac n cheeeese!