The Grapes E14 8BP (Tube: Westferry)

In a part of London called Limehouse there stood a pub. Not a nasty, overcrowded, touristy pub, filled with wheely suitcases  and suspicious smells, nor yet a deserted, bare, lonely place with nothing see and only lager to drink: it was a proper pub, and that means comfort, good ales and a warm welcome. 

It had a perfectly rectangular door nothing like a porthole, painted green, with a door handle exactly where you’d expect one to be. The door opened on to a long room not  unlike a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and a floor of foot polished stone, provided with stools and chairs, and a fine selection of beers for all—the pub owner was fond of visitors. The pub went on and on, going straight upto but not into the side of the river—The Thames, as all the people for many miles round called it—and many little boats bobbed up and down upon it, first on one side and then on another.

Right that’s probably enough of pretending to be Tolkien. The Grapes just so happens to be owned by the worlds favorite wizard; no not Harry Bloody Potter who doesn’t count because he doesn’t even wear a pointy hat. It’s Gandalf, otherwise known as Sir Ian Mckellan, who is the proprietor of this classy little Limehouse establishment.Limehouse is admittedly not the most glamorous of areas but if you persevere with it there are a few hidden delights and this is certainly one of them.  Located on the Thames Path about a mile east from The Prospect of Whitby you’d be forgiven for overlooking The Grapes as it’s in a very residential area and far from any companions. It shouldn’t however take eyes like an elf to spot the narrow pub at the end of a terrace.

As my hobbity description suggests this is a warm and friendly place. I’ll admit to having made several trips both solo and as part of a fellowship. Each time I’ve come away with that cozy little glow you get after guzzling a few pints (yes it comes in pints) in the right drinking hole. There are always a decent handful of proper beers on tap and you’ll almost certainly get some hearty banter from behind the bar. The Grapes also has a strong reputation as being a good fish restaurant upstairs besides offering a solid menu in the downstairs pub. At the back you can look out onto the Thames as it starts to bend around to the Isle of Dogs. It’s not quite as impressive as the Pellenor Fields but inspiring non the less.

Sadly I’m yet to see Gandalf/Sir Ian behind the bar but rest assured when I do I will ask him on behalf of everyone why the in the name of frig he didn’t get those smug looking eagles to drop the bastard ring right in the mountain to start with.


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