Culpeper

Bars and pubs, Gastropubs Whitechapel
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(16user reviews)
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Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer
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It might jump the shark slightly with the seasonal/local theme, but this pub can't be faulted for its excellent food, drinks, service and ambience.

The ‘seasonal and local food’ mantra is taken to silly heights at this gastropub in the heart of London’s East End, where salad leaves and some herbs for the kitchen are grown in planters on the roof garden. It’s a bit of fun – and maybe a bit of on-trend window-dressing too. No roof garden can keep a busy kitchen in produce. But ignore the pathos of such tokenism, because everything else about this pub – drinks, service, ambience and, above all, the excellent dishes – towers over any commitment to high-level horticulture.

Culpeper (formerly the Princess Alice) occupies a corner site facing Petticoat Lane Market. It was a Truman’s pub for much of the last 130 years, and remains a handsome Victorian inn, with the brewery signage preserved. The new owners have improved the frontage, laid beautiful parquet floors, installed a curvaceous bar and added industrial-style lighting – the result is a treat, fitting perfectly with both building and location.

Even more useful than adding a roof garden or having a good eye for Ercol chairs is being able to pick a good chef. Sandy Jarvis was formerly head chef at the acclaimed Terroirs, and his style is recognisable: unfussy dishes; simple presentation; great terrines; a focus on flavour.

‘Pig’s head’ croquettes contained shreds of unctuous pork, their flavour-packed fattiness contrasting with the sharp and vinegary tang of pickled walnuts. A ploughman’s was equally to the point: peppery, rich meat with a simple pickle, an apple and a wedge of sharp cheese.

The details are good where they matter: sardines were simply grilled, and served with a nutty romesco sauce the deep red of ripe peppers. The ingredients are unfailingly fresh too: a globe artichoke was pert and fleshy, and came with spiced crab butter. Prices are fair; the terrific bread and anchovy butter are free.

Culpeper offers an easy mix of drinking and dining in the same space – it’s a proper gastropub, not a pub with a dining room – and the beers will please any real ale enthusiast. On our visit, these included zesty Mad Goose Purity pale ale, hoppy summer ale from Hop Back, and session ales from Hogs Back and Fuller’s. There are also several London craft brews by the bottle, a French and Italian wine list that is entirely organic, a decent cocktail list and even some excellent own-made soft drinks.

Culpeper – named after Nicholas Culpeper, the seventeenth-century English herbalist, who lived in nearby Spitalfields – is a tonic for any East Ender.

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Culpeper says
The Culpeper public house sits on the corner of Commercial Street, opposite Petticoat Lane. It's set over four floors, to include a pub, restaurant, rooms and rooftop greenhouse and garden. Delicious food, good booze, friendly staff and a beautiful restored building provide its unique atmosphere.
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By: Guy Dimond

Posted:

Venue name: Culpeper
Contact:
Address: 40 Commercial Street
London
E1 6LP
Opening hours: 11am-midnight Tue-Thur; 11am-2am Fri-Sat; 11am-11pm Sun.
Transport: Tube: Liverpool Street; Aldgate East. Overground: Shoreditch High Street
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Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|16
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Sheens86
Tastemaker

The Culpeper – A London Pub, 40 Commercial Street hotel restaurant and pub. Beautiful features in a well preserved Victorian building.

The pub area is quite large with tables and bench seating, the restaurant upstairs is a mixture of booths and tables. Service wasn’t the best, in that it took a while to get someone’s attention but the food was good and the atmosphere pleasant.

A nice local for people in the area and for anyone organising a get together with friends, everything under one roof.

Sylvia C
tastemaker

This pub has a great vibe, very lively but cosy. The décor is nice and they have a rooftop that grows vegetables, the view of the city isn't great but you can still see parts of the city Skyline.
One of the best Sunday roast I have had in London. Staff and service both on point.


Bonnie W
Tastemaker

The classy but relaxed restaurant at the Culpeper is a world away from the loud and overflowing pub on the ground floor. Once seated we waited at least five minutes for menus to be brought over, but after this, service was quite attentive. You can reserve tables which is always nice, but even on a Saturday night at 8:00 the restaurant wasn't completely full so walking in may also be possible. The menu isn't large, with three starters, three mains and five desserts but this was still enough for us all to have something that we liked on the menu. I went for the vegetarian gnocchi which was the cheapest main at £12.50. There was also cod and pork which my friends both said were delicious. Portions weren't huge, but they were enough. For dessert we shared a blood orange panna cotta and rhubarb crumble which were both lovely. Although the Culpeper is a pub, the food definitely seems to be a bit more upscale and the prices reflect this. Three mains, four glasses of wine, and two desserts came to £90 with service.

Tyan
tastemaker

Another gem in east London, love the old Victorian decor, place is tastefully done and people are nice and friendly. Came here for drinks on a Saturday afternoon because of the famous Bloody Mary and it was pretty packed.

Didn't manage to try the food but I will definitely be back because I have seen the food served on some tables and definitely looks mouth watering. Would love to explore the rooftop in summer. Do check out this place and I believe it will definitely be worth your time!

Renee S
tastemaker

This place use to be my local and it’s just a great solid reliable gastropub. In the summer, the rooftop is open and has a grilled menu (the grilled chicken is succulent and very flavoursome) which gives you a lovely little place to soak up the sunshine; and in the colder months, there’s a very comfy restaurant on the first floor and a more relaxed pub atmosphere on the ground level. They have a good selection of wine, beer and spirits, friendly service, and a solid menu. Can’t ask for more really.


What we had: 

  • Deep fried black pudding balls with red eye mayonnaise
  • Harissa hummus with crispy potato skins
  • Pig’s head terrine with crackling and pickled onions
  • Cottage pie with kale on the side

The black pudding was very moreish and the kick in the mayonnaise helped cut through the heaviness of it all. Those crispy potato skins were indeed really crispy; however the Harissa hummus could have been a little smoother so that it was picked up by the crips a little easier, but hey, I wasn’t complaining - they were good! The crackling on the pig’s head terrine was a little disappointing; however the cottage pie was delicious and the mashed potatoes in nice and toasted peaks on top. I even liked the kale which was crisp and not soggy or overdone - and I’m not usually known for liking kale at all.


Tip: try the rooftop in the summer! Get in a little earlier if you want seating on the ground floor as they tend to get very busy.


Good For: large groups, rooftop in the summer, catching up with friends, casual dinner/lunch/drinks.

barbara s

Best Pub in the Area! Always the freshest most in season ingredients, very environmentally concerned. Super friendly team!

Lizzie W
Tastemaker

We went here last summer after seeing a picnic on the roof advertised in timeout

X price (can't remember now) for a hamper with lots of home made goodies inc pudding 
We got there at 6.30 and were taken up to the roof garden which has a lovely view over Shoreditch and also is their garden where they grow herbs etc 
There was someone serving drinks which were yum
Then half hour later they brought us our picnic which was pretty tasty! 
Also blankets as it was a bit chilly
Lovely idea and well executed
Pub downstairs also looks good. Not sure about the rest of the food though but would go back to try it!

uk w

Terrified experience, the worst food I have ever had in the world! definitely never go again! 


We waited for 2 hour for the roof top garden , 

I have ordered a bottle of cider , it comes with two glass of diluted cider with full of iced. 

The food were the most terrified things 

We ordered 3 main dishes, one lamp chop and one pork and one gilled fish  - they were all come with really sightly cooked , extremely small portion in a big empty plate , no source , no veggi, no french fried , nothing . We were very dispointed as the food are completely different for the photos shown on the wedsite with fully dressing. 

The fish smelled bad , all the living organs were still stuff inside the fish. 

We have ordered a Cabbage, they gilled it badly which turned into black and hard and dry which cant even put into mouth!

I would really not recommend anyone to go there and wont never come back again! 

Tatiana R

Didn't sample many beers but did have an outstanding lunch there - lamb followed by the tart for pudding. Will definitely be back for some drinks!

Daniel L
Tastemaker

One of the coolest bars in East London, which is saying a lot since East London is the land of cool bars. A good range of craft beers (they had BBNO and Brixton when I was there) and the bartenders are extremely friendly. You can easily spend hours chatting to those guys. Didn't get to try the food but will definitely want to go back for the food as the dining room is spacious and the menu looks tantalising. 

Genie
Tastemaker

The area it's in means the mix of people it's bizarre! City worker, students, hipsters... And me!

Such a cool place, beautiful bar, plants everywhere, great drinks selection and if it hadn't been raining (it's a pity you can't review the British Summer!) we would have sat on the roof terrace!

I'm gutted I didn't get to try the food, the menu looked great, but I'll definitely be back so more to come...!

Jeff T

Great rooftop marred by poor and inattentive bordering on rude service, so so food including two portions of chicken that weren't properly cooked and drinks list that reads as far more promising than the reality. Overall, in an area with loads of great venues, a pretty rooftop won't be enough to bring us back.

George Y

The Culpeper


As a craft beer lover, I was excited to visit The Culpeper. With a slick and fairly recent opening, a snazzy website and a decent refurb, all the signs were there for it to be an excellent addition to City nightlife. It’s based in the less trendy end of Commercial Street, where you’re more likely to see a dead cat in the road than a hipster with an almighty beard.


The Culpeper is, essentially, worth a visit but doesn’t set the world alight.


Plusses include the décor, which is certainly attractive to look at and creates a pleasant yet dingy atmosphere. However, the keg selection is pretty poor for a bar which prides itself on beer, although there are bottles aplenty (at pretty steep prices).


Overall, worth a visit. But don’t plan a night out around it.