Time Out says
A dark but cosy Clapton ale house.
It’s not always easy living up to your older siblings, and The Mermaid has some competition with its popular Bethnal Green sister, The King’s Arms. As a coping mechanism, it’s gone for the ‘twinning’ approach: the two pubs look almost identical. Inside, The Mermaid is thick with dim, dive bar lighting and dark teal walls. It’s a little bit like an office, albeit a sexy ’60s one: the kind you’d see in ‘Mad Men’.
This sleek feel is a bit at odds with the art dotted on the walls: mostly Day of the Dead-esque illustrations of skeletons playing the ukulele and riding motorbikes. And the music? The Doors’ ‘LA Woman’ is on repeat. It’s like seeing a human version of Big Red in Holloway, dressed up in a wedding suit.
Aesthetic confusion aside, this is a serious beer pub, and they really deliver on the brews. I counted 20 taps of little wooden soldiers ready to pour. It’s a varied list, with London brewery hits including a very fine pint of Beavertown’s Neck Oil. There were rarer finds from Japan and North America too, and an 8.2% Dutch stout called Blood, Sweat & Tears. Dreamy.
The ‘snacks’ are more gourmet than burger (though if you’re after the latter, they do a seitan patty with wasabi mayo). But it needs work: the welsh rarebit (aka cheese toastie) arrived chewy and charred, but a mammoth bowl of sweet potato fries made up for it, topped with a chubby fistful of guac that could have filled out six burritos.
Like most little siblings, The Mermaid has some growing up to do, but it’s just cool enough to share a pint with every now and then.
The Mermaid, 181 Clarence Road, London, E5 8EE.
020 8533 9677, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday to Wednesday noon to 11pm.
Thursday to Saturday noon to midnight.
Sunday noon to 10pm.
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