The Time Out’s Love London Awards are back for a third year, so we're asking you to show some love to your favourite restaurants, bars, pubs, cafés, shops and cultural venues. Feeling overwhelmed by all this democratic responsibility? Don’t panic, because we’ve enlisted some of the city’s top bloggers to tell us where they put a tick on their ballot paper. Next up it's Alex Jones who reviews London pubs at raidersofthelostpubs.
‘In a city where basically every pub has a dubious claim to fame – Samuel Pepys stopping by for a sup, a pirate hanging, the spot where David Bowie once propped up the bar – East End boozers take the prize for the tallest tales around. You probably know Ronnie Kray popped a cap in hapless George Cornell at The Blind Beggar, but did you know the bar at The Carpenters Arms (at one time run by old Ma Kray) was supposedly carved from coffin lids? Or that the Prospect of Whitby’s bar top is forged from centuries-old pewter? Many (if not all) such stories are utter fabrication, particularly those starring the usefully opaque Jack the Ripper. But pubs out west, friendly and cosy as they are, can’t touch this level of character.
‘One story I like concerns The Palm Tree. Today it looks odd, stuck out alone in the middle of Mile End Park. Apparently it once stood at the corner of two terraced streets, both of which were obliterated in the Blitz. Now it’s a time capsule. The pub’s management won’t accept card payment, the decor is pure shite and the old-school cash register would probably give you tetanus if you caught a finger in it. Even the layout is nuts: there’s a whole wing of the bar area I’ve never figured out how to get into. But it’s great, and full of personality. And don’t forget the social element. Nigel Farage uses pubs as an icon of British exceptionalism. He can naff right off. Pubs are traditional, sure, and nowhere more so than in the East End. But the best ones move with the times, maintaining those exquisite old buildings while updating the experience, helping disparate folk get to know each other better. In what, to be fair, is a pretty antisocial city, the classic East End boozer is something we should all raise a glass to.’
Five places I'd give a Love London Award
The Market Porter, Borough
'A pub that opens at 6am, so market traders can fit in a cheeky sup before work.'
The Clock Room, British Museum
'As the hour strikes, dozens of old clocks chime simultaneously, causing tourists to freak out.'
Jackson + Rye, Soho
'So friendly, such good food and proper good value.'
'Inexcusably dreadful and peerlessly amazing, both at the same time.'
The Morgan Arms, Bow
'The Morgan strikes a balance between keeping locals happy – there's always an old boy nursing a stout, poring over the Racing Post – and helping relative newbies like me feel at home. Order a pint of Redwell, pull up a chair and drink it all in.'
By Alex Jones who reviews London pubs at raidersofthelostpubs.
Want to shout about your local area? Cast your vote in our Love London Awards.