You’d quite rightly expect somewhere called ‘Old Coffee Shop’ to sell caffeinated beverages as its flagship product wouldn’t you? Well this place doesn’t, so tough shit, it instead joins the fast growing list of places I’ve reviewed with stupid names (see Shakespeare’s Head, George and Dragon). In this case there is at least as reason for the name as you can probably guess that this establishment used to be a coffee house; it isn’t anymore though, it’s a pub.
As pubs go this is at the end of the scale I wouldn’t venture to if you’re the kind of person that thinks that My Family is a boundary pushing comedy or Antiques Road show got a bit too racy after Fiona Bruce took over (a woman talking about priceless jugs, well I never). Two tellies showing the endless tickertape of relentless sport news ensure that this pub hosts a crowd of chaps who’s bible is the racing post and have no idea how to write with anything other than a biro two inches long. As a result there is a gritty and lively atmosphere where you’re likely to hear the odd swear.
Personally I quite like this sort of pub. Walls adorned with all sorts of paraphernalia accumulated over the years and in need of a good clean. Personal favourite in this collection is the case of stuffed fish which hangs over the stairs which looks more like a box of old stones that look a bit like fish. There’s plenty to look at if you don’t want to glare mindlessly at the ‘plasma’ and wait to see who beat who in what is surely one of the most important matches ever, for now, this year, until next time.
On the pumps you’re treated to beer from local Brodie’s Brewery and there are some excellent options amongst them (Bethnal Green Bitter is not to be overlooked). For the more adventurous or particular in their tastes there is also a smattering of unusual stouts and porters to be had.
This is a ‘real’ pub. It’s making no apologies for what it is and making no effort to cater for the tourists that would no doubt bolster its trade given the proximity to Carnaby Street. For me this is a real winner, a throwback and a pub lovers pub.