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After all the excitement of a day at the Games, get a different kind of fix by sampling east London’s buzzing social scene. Whether you want a time-warp experience, modern eclecticism, or an evening people-watching the trendy, artsy crowd of Bethnal Green, head to one of the area’s best pubs or most buzzing bars for a dose of London life.
Couscous on the menu, contemporary art on the walls of the upstairs gallery, a heated terrace and trendy punters sipping Pinot Grigio – The Approach, near Victoria Park, is a thoroughly modern boozer. Sunday roasts are a menu favourite, as are the homemade sausage rolls to accompany pints of draught bitter.
Inside the Britannia it’s all cosy sofas, good food and wine, and dramatic swags of red, white and blue proclaiming the pub’s patriotic pride. Once the sun comes out, however, everyone decamps outside to the beer garden that backs onto Victoria Park.
This familiar drinking-and-dining venue from Geronimo Inns is set up as a timbered Klondike-style shack in Westfield Stratford shopping centre. The bar serves above-average wines by the glass and draught ales, while filling, truly British dishes such as fish and chips, ham-hock salad, and steamed puddings populate the menu.
For a chain pub, this popular venue (pictured, left) has a strong sense of identity – the eclectic decor mixes pony-skin stools and striped carpets with colourful cushions and bare wood. Beer-loving visitors can sample draught pints of London-brewed Redemption Pale Ale, accompanied by patriotic pub snacks such as deep-fried whitebait or steak-and-ale pie.
A proper cosy pub full of locals who come to lounge on battered leather sofas or prop up the bar with pints of decent draught ale and lager, or trendy cocktails, The Florist is a typical London street-corner boozer.
This bar in a pub serves self-respecting draught ales plus high-end rum cocktails – as well as a true taste of Hackney. Gastropub standards range from Scotch eggs to Sunday roasts, and the decor is both laid back and grown up.
This gastropub near Westfield Stratford City does a decent line of interesting beers, from the house beer, Nethergate’s King Eddie’s, to Cottage Brewing Company’s Sunbeam Tiger. The menu lists crowd-pleasing burgers, bangers and steaks alongside more ambitious dishes of tea-smoked trout with Jersey Royals.
East London’s trendsetters love this pub (pictured, right), with its leafy location, its beautifully preserved wooden bar that serves real ales and draught ciders, its broad-reaching wine list and its ambitious kitchen. Enjoy fancy fare such as ham hock and cotechino with lentils and salsa verde – prices may be steeper than at other gastropubs in the area, but the quality and experience are worth it.
An archetypal East End boozer from the good old days, The Palm Tree takes punters back in time with its original 1950s’ decor, live musicians paying homage to the Rat Pack era, and real ales that have stood the test of time. Note: cash only.
This proper British pub’s USP is a good range of ales, including several from its on-site microbrewery, away from the consumerist frenzy of the Westfield shopping complex. Traditional British bar snacks include pork pies and sausage rolls.