Crown & Anchor
246 Brixton Road
You brave souls who’ve ever ventured out of Lambeth and (whisper it low) n-n-n-north of the river into a far-flung land named Stoke Newington may be familiar with that most jovial of ale-y hangouts, the Jolly Butcher, writes Martha de Lacey….
Voted one of the Guardian’s top ten British pubs, if you have enjoyed one (or six) of the Butcher’s jars you’ll be over-the-moon to hear the team have just set up a sparkling new sisterly camp in Lambeth, on the site of a ‘50s rock’n’roll hangout and former squat.
Sitting proud between Stockwell and Brixton, this corner pub declares itself ‘south London’s premier real ale, cider and craft beer house’ – quite a turnaround since 2008 when, under former management, it was branded “a bit of a s****hole” by locals.
Unusual beers, unusual beers and, er, unusual beers are order of the day in here. And if you’re looking for anything more commercial than a Hoegarden you should clear off now. Boasting 24 on tap, ten hand pumps, one pear and two real ciders, seven real ales and a flock of yeasty bottled beverages from every corner of the world, you’ll come in for a quick half and find yourself slurring home in a cab. (Trust me. Hic.) Kegs and casks change almost daily to keep everyone on their toes, but clued-up staff will recommend likeminded pints if you turn up to find your favourite cherry beer replaced with something new.
With a super-hot chef poached from the Horseshoe gastropub in Hampstead (“I’m friends with the owner, so it was alright to pinch him,” says owner Martin Harley), don’t be surprised if you find yourself eating tremendously well in the Crown. The menu will launch towards the end of May, so book a table now before they run out of homemade Scotch eggs, smoked ham hock terrine with piccalilli, beer-battered skate cheeks, arancini balls with aioli, crab and asparagus salad, plaice with samphire, rib-eye steak and pea risotto. The perfect pint-soaker.
The long, simple space is soaked in natural light thanks to vast windows, making colourful beer pumps shine ever more bright. A new ceiling, floor, bar and exposed brick walls have rectified damage caused by squatters, and the place has a lovely, clean, stripped-back blank canvas quality – the drinks are the real décor here.
The Feel“We’ve learned a lot of lessons from the Jolly Butcher,” says Martin. “One being that we’re not massively in to ‘pub events’. Anyway, it’s a bit like a beer festival in here every day!” With no pool table, TV or even soundtrack to your drinking, you’ll have to make the music yourself. “Having a good beer and a good natter is what we’re all about.”