Have you ever walked into a party just a little bit later than is advisable? You tried to be stylishly late and instead stood in a corner trying to join in with jokes that are an utter mystery to you. Why is it hilarious that everyone is wearing a tea towel on their head? Who started the thing where everyone is referred to as ‘Comrade’? Is that a police siren outside? This unique experience can be replicated fairly authentically by dropping into The Birdcage anytime past mid afternoon.
This pub is quite rightly regarded as a London institution. It had the same owner for most of the last century who was regularly to be seen behind the bar chatting to locals and visitors alike cementing a reputation as a friendly and very lively pub. Recent times have not seen this liveliness diminish and there seems rarely to be a dull day. Be assured that the karaoke night will have a lasting effect upon your psyche, I’ll never look at Cher quite the same way again, and regardless of how much you sound like a goose getting shagged by a lawnmower you’ll get a few cheers.
Standing proudly on a corner midway up Columbia Road the distinct emerald green tiling is eye-catching amongst the grey concrete that surrounds it. These 1950s buildings are a reminder that the area was heavily bombed during the war and although The Birdcage still remains mostly intact it lost its enormous stained glass windows which must surely have made this a singularly beautiful pub. These have been replaced by massive single panes which make the bar itself feel light and spacious even when it’s totally packed with fragrant sweaty punters.
Not really a place to rave about if you’re looking for half a dozen tasty craft ales but there are a couple of cheeky proper beers lurking amongst the continental fizz pumps. If it were me I’d head down for a few beers one evening prepared with a few quid for the pool table and no expectations. On my last trip I popped in for one, got dragged into the infectious atmosphere, couldn’t remember leaving and discovered a picture of me dancing with a French bulldog on my phone the next day. So if that’s the kind of thing that you like to do for fun then go. If not. Don’t.