In the two and a bit years I’ve been living a stone’s throw (or lazy bus ride) away from Bethnal Green, things have been a-changing. One of the East End’s most famous neighbourhoods, BG has always boasted an array of drinking and dining establishments (albeit not always friendly to outsiders), but just as with Shoreditch and Hoxton before it, many of the local pubs having been ‘hipster-fied’ in the last year or so, as arty types have moved into the area, swiftly followed by property developers. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing, though, because Bethnal Green seems to have done what Shoreditch couldn’t, and (so far) remained a pleasing mix of locals, creatives, illegal dog breeds and a smattering of pretentious coffee/bike shops. Here’s my insider’s guide the hot spots – hit them up before total gentrification sets in.
If you are looking for nothing but pies and drinks, head here. Preferably to line your stomach with stodge (albeit righteous stodge) before moving on. All pies come on a bed of creamy mash with mushy peas on the side, and as you can see there are plenty to choose from. Add to that board games and candlelight and you’ve got a tasty little oasis in the middle of the East End.
Having reopened and revamped itself in 2013, The Old George boasts a (if not somewhat generic) scenester décor, with an impressive beer yard (I would say garden, but Zone1-2 beer gardens boasting actual grass are somewhat hard to come by, so this place gets points for even having an outside area). Mulled cider is now available too, as well as serving up delish dishes. I personally thoroughly recommend the mac ‘n’ cheese.
Recently reopened by the owners of the Well & bucket in Shoreditch, the King’s Arms is a little watering hole boasting an impressively stocked bar and ale menu just off the main road. The fact that I saw approximately the world’s largest white bulldog there hasn’t swayed my opinion…much.
An insanely intimate cocktail bar, I strongly advise booking in advance if you plan on going at the weekend. If it’s just two of you, expect to be practically sitting on top of the couple next to you. A word of warning to animal lovers though – the place is pretty much a taxidermy museum. However, if that’s not going to sway you, it’s definitely one of the best cocktail bars in East London. Rumour has it they change the menu every week or so, just to keep you on your toes. Oh, and they also served the bill inside this little beauty:
Located under the Arches in Bethnal Green, Mother Kelly’s only major flaw is the graffiti décor, which makes it feels a bit like a 14-year-old’s bedroom. That aside, the place boasts a terrific space with one wall dominated by bottled beers and ales and a large space out the front and off from the main road. In Summer this it’s just right.
(picture courtesy http://www.motherkellys.co.uk)
The list goes on – these are just a few of my personal favorites. If you have any other suggestions, let us know in the comments below.