The Pembury Tavern is a very fine pub indeed. Noted for its huge range of real ales, it also has traditional cider and a small but impressive selection of bottles, mostly Belgian and German. There is no pissy lager here – even the draught lager is from a microbrewery. The second keg font is a guest tap. When we arrived it had Gouden Carollus Christmas (pun intended, apparently) on. Later it became Poperings Hommelbier. Fentimans soft drinks are available as well as decent coffee. They also do food, and some of that is vegan.
I went there last night to meet up with friends and to eat. I had hummus and pita bread to start. The garlicky hummus was almost certainly home-made. Having spent a chunk of the previous day moaning about stuffed peppers being the universal vegetarian option in Ireland (outside Dublin), I chose to order them. I could have had a curry, or possibly the nut roast.
When they arrived, it became obvious a starter was not necessary. There were two peppers, and an enormous pile of salad, and being stuffed with couscous and slivers of vegetables, they were filling – a perfect preparation for the abuse that followed, and continued into the night. The filling was perfect – just moist enough. It’s easy to make couscous too dry, or completely soggy.
There was even a vegan dessert (apple pie with sorbet), but I needed to leave some space for booze!
The pub itself is heaven – it’s a single room, but one with secluded corners, with very little decoration. The furniture is delightfully random, and there are no TVs, piped music, or games machines. Despite this, it’s not a quiet pub – there’s too much conversation going on for that. There is a bar billiards table in one corner, a pool table in another and lots of board and card games available to play.
Pembury Tavern, 90 Amhurst Road, Hackney, E8 1JH. Phone: 020 8986 8597. [Map]