Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Pilot, Greenwich

As the Greenwich Peninsula continues to evolve into a metropolis of impressive residential high-rises, schools, offices, tree-lined parks and of course the O2 Arena, it's a lovely surprise to find a tiny, historical cobbled street called River Way which is made up of eight Grade II listed Georgian cottages and a fantastic 19th century pub. The Pilot was built to serve the local coal workers in days gone by, and despite being there for hundreds of years, the pub and cottages now look almost out of place amongst the sprawling urbanism. It's a bit like a film set and also happens to feature in Blur's 1994 'Park Life' video (can you believe that was 20 years ago already).

Following a recent refurbishment, I was invited to go and see what the proprietors of The Pilot had done with the place, so I took my brother and young Elliott there for lunch last week and was very pleasantly surprised. Located a short walk from North Greenwich station, it's easily accessible (also by river boat) and an absolutely perfect place for a pitstop if you're going to the nearby O2. It's also very convenient for City Airport. What surprised me most was just how large The Pilot is once you're inside. Not only does it have a bright and airy bar with various rooms on various levels to enjoy your pint of London Pride and Scotch egg or Sunday roast, but it also has some fantastic outdoor spaces including a lovely little beer garden and a roof terrace with those Moroccan-style lounge cushions. It's also a great venue to host a private party (or business meeting), whether you want to hire an intimate area or splash out and hire the whole pub.

The food and drink at The Pilot is Modern British with a varied and extensive menu including everything from traditional beer-battered cod and chips or Peninsula Ploughman's, to a confit duck leg or chargrilled smoked mackerel salad. We opted for the Scotch egg, Pilot Burger, fish & chips, apple crumble and warm brownie, all of which were delicious and spot on. The dinner menu is a slightly more adventurous version of the lunch menu, plus there's the daily pie menu, good puds, a comprehensive wine list and six cask ales. Oh and apparently The Pilot is renown for offering the largest cheese collection of any British pub!

The decor is quirky with terracotta pot lamps, framed vintage toys and robot posters, and a mixture of furniture styles, all fitting of each area, whether you want a cosy armchair, a comfy bar-stool or an al fresco booth. The staff were super-friendly, and as a parent, it was a joy to be in such a child-friendly establishment. But that's not all, as The Pilot holds a fantastic trump card - a selection of beautiful boutique bedrooms. I went for a peek to see a few of the rooms all with their own unique style, from the cosy 'Captain's Cabin' with its wooden interior complete with port hole, to the more luxurious and spacious superior doubles (including one which is full of framed classic album covers). All the rooms are stunning and have been tastefully decorated, each with an en-suite bathroom or shower, iPod dock, tea/coffee facilities, flatscreen TV, free wi-fi and parking. Another nice touch is each room has a clock on the door with the time relating to the room number. These enchanting bedrooms are a perfect place for a romantic escape, a solitary escape, an 'I'm catching a flight from City Airport at the crack of dawn' escape, or just a place to rest your head if you happen to be going to a gig at the O2 and don't fancy joining the masses on the last tube to hell. In fact, Rihanna, Beyonce and Dolly Parton, if you're reading this, you should definitely consider booking a room at The Pilot for your next tour!

The Pilot
68 River Way
SE10 0BE
020 8858 5910

Nearest tube: North Greenwich
Nearest train station: Charlton or Westcombe Park
Opening hours 11am - 11pm daily (10.30pm Sunday)
Rooms from £165 per night

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Little Nan's Bar

When you think of Deptford, I bet you don't imagine it's home to one of London's hippest little cocktails bars, do you? Well it is! Tucked away on Deptford Broadway is a nondescript door which leads you to this terrific den. Just wind your way through the corridors until you find yourself in the sitting room at The Bunker Club and you've arrived at Little Nan's Bar! It is full of granny-esque decor, elaborate lampshades, a chequered ceiling reminiscent of a 1970's dance floor, lace-topped tables, vintage crockery, comfy old chairs, playing cards, random bears, oh and the odd retro cookbook.

Little's Nan's Grandson, Tristan, is the proprietor of this secret drinking establishment and he knows how to look after his punters. He stands proudly behind his rather fabulous gilt-framed neon bar and knocks up sensational, creative cocktails served in teapots or mugs (of course) with even more elaborate and very Royal names. And the best thing is, he doesn't charge daft prices, so you can afford to drink... well, several! As well as cocktails, there are a load of other drinks on the menu too including wine, beer, spirits and even a pot of tea if you fancy. Well, who doesn't like a cuppa Rosie Lee with their nan. Especially if you have a slice of homemade Victoria sponge with it (yep, he does cake, and cheese straws too). Tristan's got it all going on.

Little Nan's is open 5pm - 11pm Thur til Saturday, but it's also available to hire on other days and believe me, it's the ideal place to throw a party. And that's not all, because the last Sunday of every month, Nan's is open from 1pm - 5pm for a Cream Tea & Cocktail Afternoon complete with table top market so you can buy your vintage wares whilst sipping a Mojito of Kent. I've been desperately trying to get down there as it sounds like the ideal way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and now my baby is starting to appreciate the cocktail scene a bit more, we're going to do it. See you there!

Little Nan's Bar
46 Deptford Broadway

Opening times: Thur - Sat 5pm - 11pm
Sunday afternoon tea & market 1pm - 5pm (last Sun of the month)

Give Tristan a call: 07792 205 375
Or email him:

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Kench & Bibesy

'Kench & What?' I hear you cry? Kench & Bibesy!

Kench 'A container in which fish or animal skins are salted' (also a verb: 'to laugh out loud')

Bibesy 'An excessively earnest desire to drink!'

So in short, I think you'll agree that Kench & Bibesy pretty much translates into 'eat, drink and be merry'! It also happens to be the name of a rather brilliant new establishment who's creator is behind another one of my favourite London haunts, Evans & Peel Detective Agency.

Located in the heart of Farringdon, K&B is the perfect place for a spot of lunch, a few after-work drinks, or a proper night of wining, dining and secret cocktails (clue: Kench is the 'eating' bit, whilst 'Bibesy' is the hidden drinking den...)

As I now have a Mini Person in tow, nights on the town aren't as plentiful as they used to be at the moment. So I was very happy to try out K&B's wares over lunch the other day. And I can't rave about it enough. During the day it's a bright, informal and relaxing space to enjoy a leisurely lunch whilst watching the world go by through the big windows overlooking Smithfield Market. But I bet by the time night falls, it takes on a whole new vibe as the cocktail shakers, top tunes, Belly Pops (I'll explain later) and enthusiastic banter all vie for attention. And that's just upstairs!

Kench & Bibesy has been kitted out in a very unique and creative way - I'd call it 'Old School Industrial Chic'. The Detective in charge has been busy taking time off from his successful SW5 Detective Agency and has literally gone 'old-school' as he's been rummaging around an old school up north and has come back to London armed with all sorts of random bits and pieces including a lovely large piece of parquet flooring which has been made into a beautiful bar. Plus he's recycled some old science lab basins which are now the loo hand-basins (he even made the taps himself). Then there are the little concrete igloo-shaped lampshades which glide along the ceiling (yep, he made those too). And something which I was very impressed with - radiator beer! Old fashioned radiators which have been adapted and fitted with a tap as a vessel for beer on tap. Genius! I know you're often told 'don't try this at home', but on this occasion I really would like to try that at home. With wine. It's all the lovely attention to detail which makes this place special.

By the time my friend, Elliott (my Baby Blogging Partner in Crime) and I had finished looking around, as well as being given a sneaky peak of the secret Bibesy bar with its 'impossible to find' entrance (very Evans & Peel), it was time for lunch. Kench & Bibesy offers an essentially British menu in a sharing plates style and all very reasonably priced. Our plates included truly excellent Scotch eggs, comforting cauliflower cheese, a truffle-infused Jerusalem artichoke pate, tasty butternut squash with gnocchi & crispy sage, and the aforementioned Belly Pops - fun little morsels of braised pork belly lollipops served with pumpkin puree and Bramley apple. We even managed to squeeze in a couple of perfect puds, the sticky toffee (served with custard ice cream and raspberry leather) and a Winter Mess (wintery variation of the Eton Mess). The service was faultless, friendly and fast, and we were given some great cocktail recommendations (one of which came wrapped in a bag of lavender), and the Lapland Collins is a must!

As Farringdon turns strangely quiet at weekends, K&B isn't open on Saturday or Sunday (but you can hire it for private parties.) I really like Kench & Bibesy - it's quirky, inviting, unpretentious and affordable. And a perfect weekday/night haunt, especially for anyone who likes a hint of speakeasy with their Belly Pops. I think it's going to take EC1 by storm. In fact I know it is. The resident Super Squirrel told me!

Kench & Bibesy
50-52 Long Lane
London EC1A 9EJ
020 7796 3631

Opening hours 11.00 - 00.30 (Mon - Fri)
Closed Sat & Sun (but available for private hire)
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