Monday, 5 March 2012


After an almost two week break on the DLR Challenge due to conflicting schedules (Tindall – spending time with his girlfriend, going to nice restaurants and weekend trips away; Me – learning how to play computer games again, doing a big shop and having a go at using the hoover), we finally found ourselves sitting at home on a wet and windy Sunday evening with nothing much to do.  So we set out to conquer Deptford Bridge.  I’d researched the area previously and found only 3 pubs so we figured it’d just be a case of popping out for a cheeky pint or 3, jotting down some figures and then heading home nice and early for a cup of tea.  However, prior to leaving I decided to check one more time for any pubs I may have missed, and somehow came up with potentially as many as 13 places of interest.  We knew then that this would be another case of just ticking off a few tonight and leaving the rest for a later date.  The venues on our list then, were as follows;

1)      Live Bar

2)      Star and Garter

Our first pub of the night - The Cranbrook
3)      The Hoy

4)      The Birds Nest

5)      Little Crown

6)      Carlton Wine Bar

7)      Deptford Arms

8)      Bar Sonic

9)      London Greenwich West Hostel

10)   RED

11)   Greenwich Inn

12)   57 Bar

13)   The Cranbrook

As is often the case, once we get out on the road we realise that many of these places are either no longer open, or we decide that some venues do not match our criteria of being a pub or a bar.  Happily, we could immediately cross off a few; Live Bar as it didn’t actually exist, The Hoy as it had long since closed down, The Deptford Arms was no longer a pub, Greenwich Inn was in fact a Premier Inn Hotel and Bar Sonic was nowhere to be found.  This still left us with 6 locations to get through that evening if we could.

We began at The Cranbrook.  Situated on the border of our Deptford Bridge radius it was the first pub we came across as we made our way over by foot from Elverson Road.  At first glance the pub looked closed.  Indeed the doors when pushed were locked.  This didn’t look promising.  But as we edged our way around the side of the building we spotted a back entrance with a guy standing in it.  Asking him if they were open he replied yes and as we entered, warned us to ‘watch out for that one’ referring to the barmaid.  I did indeed watch out for her for the first 5 minutes or so but she just spent the whole time reading a newspaper so I’m not entirely sure what the man was going on about.  It was probably something to do with the fact that he was very drunk, (as was his pool playing partner) that caused him to make this ‘hilarious’ quip as we walked past.  The two drunken Irishmen and the barmaid were the only people in the pub.  By entering the premises Tindall and I had increased the amount of paying customers in The Cranbrook by a staggering 100%! 

The bar itself was situated in the middle of the room and we chose to sit at it on one side so that we could ably survey the facilities.  They were pretty awful in truth.  Firstly there were hardly any seats or tables in the whole pub, and those that were present were looking more than a little worse for wear, as proven by Tindall as the top of his seat came off as we stood up to leave.  The whole pub was rundown save for a half decent pool table in the corner, and it was freezing in there as the barmaid kept opening the door so that she could stand by it and smoke.  She was friendly however, and had the inclination to notice when we were close to the end of our pints, quickly offering us another one.  The atmosphere was terrific only if you want to go to a place with two drunken people shouting and making fun of each other as they miss shot after shot on the pool table.  After drinking up we politely declined another, decided to pass on the opportunity to play on probably the world’s oldest quiz machine and walked out, leaving the two bickering pool players behind us.
The pub we were too scared to enter

Next up was the Star and Garter.  As we approached it though, for the first time on this tour we felt a little intimidated.  There was a huge black guy standing on the door, loud African music was blaring out from within, and managing to sneak a quick peek through the gap in the blinds I quickly became aware that this was a drinking place solely for African people.  I panicked somewhat as we approached the entrance, changed my mind at the last minute and continued on up the road.  This was not good.  We had to enter this pub, it’s in our radius therefore we need to rate it.  We decided it would be best to discuss tactics over a beer, and fortunately enough the ‘Little Crown’ was immediately opposite. 

Little Crown is an Irish Bar.  Another Irish bar.  There certainly seems to be a lot of them in the area.  As if to hammer home how Irish it was, we were greeted with ‘Galway Girl’ being played on the overly loud speakers as we entered.  Still, after our near miss just moments before it was all rather welcoming to find ourselves in more familiar surroundings.  We grabbed our pints for a more than reasonable price and found some empty seats.  The pub was open-planned, with a dartboard and TV screen at one end, and a jukebox that you couldn’t actually get to at the other.  The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly enough but we soon noticed that everybody in there was at least twice our age, and at least twice as drunk as we were.  So we just cowered in the corner sipping our pints and, keeping ourselves to ourselves, discussed tactics about how we were going to go about entering the Star and Garter.  After finishing our drinks we suddenly felt a little more confident.  I announced that we’d just walk straight over there, enter the pub and order a beer.  So up we got, deciding against the apparent tradition here of hugging everyone else in the bar before leaving, (as so many other customers seemed to be doing), left the premises and crossed back over the road.

As we once again approached the Star and Garter, I swear the music had become louder and the people had become more African.  We figured it best to leave this pub for now; we’ll come back on a quiet Saturday afternoon before all the singing begins.

Next up should have been Carlton Wine Bar but this place too looked a little less than desirable and our confidence had been knocked so we walked straight past.  Hoping to bounce back at a more familiar venue we were disappointed to discover that The Deptford Arms had now become a Paddy Power.  So we pushed on and eventually came across 57 Bar (ingeniously named, 57 Bar is a bar that can be found at number 57 on the street it is situated on).  Up until this point we have only rated pubs.  This was to be our first bar so it was perhaps a little unfair to be reviewing it on a cold wet Sunday evening when nobody would be going there.  Bars like this are probably packed on a Friday and Saturday night, but we quickly decided that we wouldn’t much care for the sort of people that go there anyway and felt a little more at ease when rating it.  There were only a handful of other people drinking there as we arrived, including what appeared at first glance to be one of the gangsters of Deptford.  I’m not entirely sure what a gangster looks like, but this guy did look like how I imagined one would look, and he was on the phone telling about how he needed to ‘sort something out’.  It turned out later though that he was merely discussing how he had to get some work done on an extension back home.  Still, even gangsters have chores to do.

Despite not really liking the place, 57 Bar could not be faulted for its facilities.  It was exceptionally clean, had 3 floors for people to go to and listen to bad music, and had two pool tables and even a cloakroom, handy for anybody out there that still wears a cloak.  The toilets were also immaculate, although I did notice a chair in the corner implying that on busier nights there’d be a guy there who would turn the water on for you and hand you not quite enough paper towel to properly dry your hands before making you pay him a pound. 

We drank up and intended on one more stop for the evening – The Birds Nest.  I immediately liked The Birds Nest.  It had real character.  And bats.  The entire ceiling on one side of the pub was covered in paper bats.  Very gothic.  As was the barmaid who poured two pints without smiling but it’s ok as that’s to be expected, it’s all probably just part of her look.  As we sat down at the bar we noticed from the posters on the wall that they have a live band here almost every night of the week.  We were actually a little saddened to discover that we’d just missed ‘Psychoyogi’ who were playing here for Tom’s birthday just the night before.  I bet Tom had a great night, one of his best birthdays ever.  We were rewarded though with a different band that were just jamming, playing around with different tracks and instruments.  It didn’t always sound great, but the energy and enthusiasm put into it by those taking part was infectious.  As we sat there astounded to find out that there are more than 6 types of harmonica even though they do all sound the same, we were beginning to commend the pub for its excellent facilities when Tindall noticed loads of discarded chewing gum that had been stuck to the posts on the bar in various places.  There were also a few Chocolate Santa’s sitting on the counter, it now being March suggesting that this place wasn’t cleaned too often after all.  To top all this, the barmaid disappeared for a full 10 minutes at one point.  Still, these are all minor quibbles, it was a friendly place, had a great selection of beers, and a wide range of live music.  In short The Birds Nest is probably our favourite pub at Deptford Bridge.

The George and Dragon
BONUS PUB – We decided to head home after this but en-route stumbled across The George and Dragon.  The George and Dragon isn’t actually in range of any of our DLR stations so we didn’t need to rate it, but we’d noticed it before and decided to have one last cheeky pint.  The George and Dragon is a gay pub.  We entered halfway through a man performing in drag on stage.  I’ve since made it a personal ambition of mine to never again enter a gay pub in the sole company of another man halfway through a cabaret performance from a man in drag.  We were of course immediately picked on, so scurried off to the right and ducked for cover in a different section of the pub.  As we ordered and sipped our pints we suddenly started to worry.  They say that gay men can spot other gay men through their Gaydar.  What if then, they can also spot frauds?  What if they were to realise that we were not gay?  I do not of course have any problem with homosexuality.  I do however have a problem with being in a homosexual bar when there is a gay man on stage picking on people in the crowd.  Minutes later things got worse.  I needed to use the toilet.  The toilets were on the other side of the pub, on the other side of the large audience of gay men and gay performer.  We were going to have to walk across them all.  Having seen how the guy in drag performed (he made bad jokes, picked on people in the crowd and said ‘cunt’ a lot) we knew our best chance would be to make a dash for it only once he had begun to sing.  That way he wouldn’t be able to stop and pick on us.  So, once he was into full swing on the chorus to his song ‘Wash Your Bollocks’ we made our move.  Relief was short lived though as this seemingly intelligent decision had led us deeper into the pub, further away from the exit.  We finished our pints, trying not to stare at men that were sitting on other men’s laps and made a run for it once the guy had finished a routine about fisting and was well into his next hit entitled ‘Cunt Song’. 

Deptford Bridge has certainly been one of the more interesting stations so far, we need to return at some point to finally get that pint in the Star and Garter, as well as visit Carlton Wine Bar and Red.

The Cranbrook Rating

Facilities – 2
Atmosphere – 2
Cost – 3.5
Entertainment – 3
Selection – 1 (nothing to eat except peanuts)

An ironic street name in Deptford Bridge

 Little Crown Ratings

Facilities – 2
Atmosphere – 3
Cost – 4

Entertainment – 3

Selection – 1.5


 Bar 57 Ratings

Facilities – 4.5

Atmosphere – 2
Cost – 3

Entertainment – 3
Selection – 4 (a whole separate bar for cocktails and a decent food menu)


 The Birds Nest Ratings

Facilities – 2
Atmosphere – 3

Cost – 2.5

Entertainment – 4.5
Selection – 3


What was once The Hoy (we think!)

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