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Castle, Camberwell

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user reviews of the Castle, Camberwell

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Nor rechristened the Camberwell Arms and a gastropub from the same owners of the Anchor and Hope in Waterloo and the Magdalen Arms in Oxford. Octopus on a bed of chickpeas was tasty even if the mollusc could have spent a little less time being seared. A pint of Bermondsey ale went down well of a Friday lunchtime - it was quiet but apparently is anything but most of the time.
BoehmBawerk - 29 Nov 2015 10:48
Hmm, never too sure about the Castle. The beer's always good, staff not too bad. But its the volume of the enormous telly malarchy that gets me out of there quickly.How many pubs need big screen as a perma feature? Maybe all by the look of London.

Don't talk to me about people not holding pub conversations anymore!
declan88 - 15 Feb 2009 19:19
I visited with some friends 2 weeks ago and was pleasntly surprised. It's a little oasis on an otherwise extremely busy main road! Inside the music was 80s (my era) and then later more up to date.The staff were extremely polite, and attentive, and the menu was clear, easy to understand (i didn't need a dictionary to decipher any words) and the food was excellent. The appearance of the manager, a friendly and very laid back gentleman, who joined us for a drink, confirmed my first thoughts...I'll definately be going back.
henrii - 4 Jan 2009 22:36
Nice place. Comfortable environment. Staff attentive but not over the top. Food selection a different to the usual.
PMG - 13 Jul 2008 21:04
Used to come here when called The Snug. Much the same in layout. I think it use to be trendy-ish (when i used to go - joking). Either I'm getting older or its lost its edge, actually both those statements are true.

Don't like the chandeliers, they look grubby which in turn gives the whole room a dirty feel. Now that you can't smoke inside maybe they should think about giving them a clean. The 'Art work' is VERY hit and miss.

Don't serve Stella!! But serve Kronenberg which to me always tastes a little weird.

Had dinner there late (10pm) one Sunday about a month ago, the waitress was fantastic, did her best for us with the by then limited menu (Sunday Roasts were out), what I had instead was delicious. Can't remember what now, although I do remember being unimpressed when desert arrived and the cream had obviously come out of a spray can!! Mind you at least they were brazen about it.
glasshalfull - 1 Mar 2008 17:59
lovely atmosphere in evening - hadn't been for a while but glad to see service still professional
dickens - 5 Feb 2008 13:08
Agree with "snorky".

anonymous - 9 Jan 2008 11:50
Great for Sunday breakfasts the Eggs Benedict are great. Friendly staff, nice place.
Weird stuffed animals..beware the fox by the door
Annabanks - 3 Jan 2008 18:00
snorky - 9 Oct 2007 10:57
Much improve dona recent visit. They now have art on the walls instead of the screen showing mtv or whatever which is much better. Still dont seem to have quite mastered the art of serving food quickly but it is not an unpleasant place to spend time waiting!
se5live - 5 Jul 2007 14:15
Great local sad if it ever disappeared.
Only one real issue - a terrible place to watch sport on the big screen.
They seem to get either the sound or lighting (no blinds!) wrong everytime - shame, as they could clean up as the Hermits is small and The Grove is too pretentious by half.
Glad to see the 'give you your change on a silver tray' routine had disappeared last time I went in.
followthebear - 18 Apr 2007 17:44
I visited this pub whilst on business 3 weeks ago. I had no cause for complaint about either the service or the food. Reading the previous reviews I can only assume that the "new" management are doing a good job of listening to their customers and improving their service levels. They offer value for money in comfortable surroundings.
AndiPars - 17 Mar 2007 17:17
Big screen TV (with sound turned off) on 24/7. Not when there's sport on or anything.. just all of the time, random stuff on silently overhead?????
Camberlander - 11 Jan 2007 18:08
I have to disagree with some of the more recent comments. I went there a few weeks ago for sunday lunch, and I reckon that it is a much improved pub. Food pretty good, and beer nice. Possibly needs more Ale on tap but was a nice atmosphere and staff good.
bissmire - 3 Jan 2007 14:10
Rather busy on New Years Day as a result of many of the other Camberwell pubs being shut - we had to wait over 75 minutes for our food but as compensation were offered it free by the bar manager. Food seemed to be good standard slightly trendy pub food. Drinks standard too although good wines
trousers - 2 Jan 2007 11:25
Food seemed very good when we visited today - good menu with wide range of foods. Has been smartened up inside but otherwise little physically changed. Same standard range of beers and wines.
se5live - 31 Dec 2006 15:23
Does seem to have let itself go - everything that made the castle distinctive and different and meant that we willingly made the five minute extra walk from central Camberwell have gone. I hope this place does get better
trousers - 29 Dec 2006 12:58
A group of fellow Camberwellians and I booked a meal at The Castle recently. We were aware that the pub was under new management but thought we'd give it a go. Comments as follows;

1. The booking process was cumbersome and badly organised.
2. The service was, by turns, sullen, obsequious and chaotic.
3. The food was dreadful. Poor ingredients badly cooked.

In order to make this criticism constructive, I would urge the current leaseholder to try and maintain the high standards of the previous licensee before making any further changes.
concretedoc - 21 Dec 2006 17:22
Oh dear oh dear oh dear... I loved the Castle so much, the food was simply awesome - good ingredients, simple but satisfying combinations... And the atmosphere was great, classy but chilled out, just like Camberwell should be. Really nice staff too - polite, friendly, made you feel all warm inside.

Then, I went in the other day, and I was heartbroken, and that's no exageration. I'm seriously upset to see what it's turning into.

First the menu is now four times the length, full of generic uninspiring pub grub (from the seventies), in that horrible "menu font" that unclassy people think adds a touch of class to a venture, but really just makes it feel like a Travel Lodge.

Then the service. Gone were the nice friendly people I've seen for years, and in were the miserable newbies.

And the trees outside, adding that touch of a downmarket All Bar One to the place.

And then the website, an awful thing, threatening to turn the Castle into a "Soho style bar" NO NO NO. There's enough of them in Soho.

Now what I don't understand, is that the Castle was super popular, and always good quality. All the new management had to do was keep it the same, or similar.

Instead, as it is, when I walk past now (even on a sunday afternoon), it's totally empty.

I don't wish the new management luck at all. I hope they bust as soon as possible.

And I suppose I'll try and make the trek down to The Bishop for the food, beer, service and atmosphere I've come to love.
ixvo - 14 Dec 2006 18:40
dear rahrahrah,

there is a difference between ownership and management. I had owned 'the castle' lease for the last 3 1/2 years.
I have indeed chosen to sell for several factors, none of them money or middle class aspirations.
I feel the camberwell market has been changing for some time & the product I offer in my venues has evolved since 'the castle' opened. This can be seen clearly in 'the bishop' east dulwich and 'the clarence' in balham.

The current offering now includes a much larger range of beers that are not available with 'the brewery tie' at 'the castle'.

Bar room bar was also sold several months ago to the young's brewery for 2,000,000.9 (that is what i call taking the money and running...).

I wish the new owners of 'the castle' all the very best and i am confident they will hit their stride after what appears to be early teething problems.

thebishop - 7 Dec 2006 10:26
The Castle was a great pub. Unfortunately, since coming under new management it has gone hugely down hill. The food is particularly disappointing. It was always really popular and I'd imagine profitable. I can't understand why the previous management moved on (although they had a loyal clientele, maybe they didn't feel any loyalty in return - sounds like they've made their money and moved on to more middle class areas). It's a shame.
rahrahrah - 6 Dec 2006 23:12
sorry to here about your experience jabs1973.

The castle is under new ownership as well as new management. The old castle management are now working at my other two pubs 'the clarence' in balham and 'the bishop'in east dulwich.
thebishop - 4 Dec 2006 12:13
Until a recent management change this pub won awards for its food - sunday roasts in particular were fantastic - now the only certificate you're likely to get is one for a day off sick. We went for a roast there yesterday - our first since the change - and my word what a difference; Previously we were treated to well cooked good quality meats , fresh veg , stuffing , a gravy boat per dish and huge portions, yesterday couldnt have been further off the other end of the scale. The choices were beef and lamb , both of which tasted exactly the same , but strangely neither like beef or lamb. The veg and Yorkshire were clearly of the Iceland frozen variety and hadnt been defrosted properly. In fact i was tempted to keep the yorkshire to use as a ball when playing squash! Upon asking for sauces (mustard , mint etc and some extras gravy - big mistake) we were presented with a bottle of HP and a look that said ''im an eastern european student with no experience - Get me out of here!''. The starter, billed as ''vegetable chowder'' was clearly minestrone from a tin , with NO bread - we had to ask for it , and waited so long that
by the time it arrived the soup was cold (ill add it was half the size of the soups we used to get there but the same price). Having not been approached to pay for 2 hours and one staff change it was tempted to just leave. However we developed a conscience and asked a barman for our bill. He was so clueless i had to print my own receipt off the chip and pin machine. If anyone counters this by wheeling out the old cliche of ''teething troubles'' , i say if it's not broke dont fix it. By cutting corners with shoddy inexperienced bartending , and dire, DIRE food , the new management will also cut their returns. The old management still run the Bishop in Lordship Lane , ill be heading there next sunday!
Jabs1973 - 27 Nov 2006 09:41
I don't see what the problem is with the Guv'nor answering critcisms on this site - it shows he takes an interest, and, I presume, tackles any serious issues raised accordingly. Take a look at The Magpie & Crown, Brentford.

It does annoy me when people criticise a pub, and not this one in particular, and lack the courage of their convictions to the extent that they feel the need to post anonymously.


5thearlofwimbourne - 26 Apr 2006 11:45
I felt moved to register on here just to say The Castle is also my ex local (only ex coz I've moved) and I think it's great - interesting decor, really yummy food (esp. Sat/Sun brunch/lunch), open late and fab music on Friday nights (don't know about Saturdays - does anyone know if it's the same coz I'm thinking of having birthday drinks there in a few weeks?)
_M_ - 24 Apr 2006 17:02
Hmmmm...Well, all I can say is, I'm a local, and I'm certainly not an old fart or an 'ale drinker' and I really like this place!!

Fair enough, Mr 'ex-local', you're entitled to express your opinion, but I can't believe you are slating the management for actually listening to and responding to people's opinions and suggestions?? You'd rather be ignored, then?

I agree, the Snug Bar was a great place, and had a lot of character, and at first I was very disappointed when it was taken over and became The Castle, but all credit to those in charge they have turned it into a great place to chill out of a weekend or for midweek drinks, the food is pretty good and I have never experienced inept service, they're all really friendly and attentive.

Less than mediocre?? This is one of the only decent pubs in Camberwell, have you never been in the Silver Buckle or the Hermits Cave?

Just proves you can't please everybody, I guess!
Amanda_Fuller - 24 Apr 2006 09:27
Sorry, forgot to mention about the total inneptitude of the staff.....
player1 - 21 Apr 2006 05:29

Amazingly enough, only old farts/ale drinkers give good marks to this pseudo-upmarket,personality lacking,not oustanding in any field, pub(my apologies for using the word pub in this case to any 'real pub' landlord).
Most annoying are the replies to any review by the manager/owner of the place.
Do you think people has no right to just write honest reviews without you having to 'prove' them wrong?
Honestly, this place is not quite a pub, not quite a restaurant, and not quite a club, and clumsily is trying to pull everything together but being less than mediocre at all.
please mr manager/owner, if you read this(and i'm sure you will, as you are more concerned on reviews than on actually managing your place)try to get a real identity to the place as it had when it was babushka or snug, you cannot please everybody, but commitments will please some people that overtime you might be able to call locals.
An ex-local
player1 - 21 Apr 2006 05:25
dear rahrahrah
new artwork is going up within the next two weeks, apologies for the delay

thebishop - 18 Apr 2006 11:44
This is my local pub and on balance I think I'm pretty lucky to have it so. Good food, music, beer and service. Walls look a little bleak since the paintings were removed, should find something to take their place and add some colour. Especially nice on a Sunday moring with a paper, eggs benedict and a juice. Niiiice.
rahrahrah - 14 Apr 2006 02:03
thankyou for your kind comments, if at anytime in the future you find the music inappropriately loud please do not hesitate to mention it to a member of staff. They will happily turn it down.

thebishop - 6 Feb 2006 07:58
Don't really do pubs cos I've been tee total all my life, but this is one that was close to work so became a regular haunt at Friday lunch times and often after work when meeting up with friends and colleagues. The menu is generally fairly good. Good enough to have held the work Christmas dinner there. Wicked chips and puds. Have been known to have two puddings in one night, as I could not make up my mind! If nothing else try the chips with aioli. Staff are friendly. We have watched the pub dog grow from a puppy to a full sized but surprisingly very docile part of the establishment - haven't seen him recently, where is he? Used the function room upstairs for my leaving do, Scott (the owner) was very helpful with the arrangements. Only minus is that the music (as other reviewers have said) can get really loud to the point where conversation is pointless. Other than that a fantastic venue.
Danger_Mouse - 3 Feb 2006 10:07
as i said below, we went back again last week and were not disappointed. settled into a booth and would have spent the whole night there if we could have, but had another party to attend. great range of really well priced food including more than 3 vege options which makes me very happy indeed. very tasty too. really fills up at about 8pm.
anonymous - 31 Jan 2006 11:41
This is my favourite london pub and to be honest the only thing i miss about not living in camberwell. it's the pub i measure all others against. atmosphere, music, food, dog and beers are all great. my only quibble is that the ladies toilets always seemed to have run out of soap when i was there (many times), which isn't great when you assume the people who pull your beers probably use them too and haven't used soap... But it's a small quibble and I'm going back this weekend after many months and looking forward to it. hope it never changes!
anonymous - 16 Jan 2006 14:21
Great pub, friendly staff, tasty food (which isnt as ridiculously over priced as that from a number of other South London 'gastro-pubs') and reasonable beer. Though they could do with a couple more draft beers I guess if I was going to be pernickety.

They also put up with me when I was slightly the worse for wear on my birthday and I fell on the floor, thanks guys.
reverendlionelblair - 1 Jan 2006 22:32
as it happens..........there will be a sister pub to the castle opening in balham at the end of january. Is that any help ?
thebishop - 13 Dec 2005 19:31
This is a great pub. Last Friday we (Battersea WFC) held our Christmas party here and we all had a fantastic time.
The food was excellent, service was fast and friendly and we were made to feel extremely welcome. In fact those of us that live in Tooting want the management to open up a sister pub in SW17.
A big thank you to all the staff - we will be back.
sn14 - 13 Dec 2005 17:34
I really like this pub. I started going because I thought I'd give the comedy night a go, and haven't regretted in the slightest. The atmosphere is relaxed, the beers are kept and served particularly well, and the food is of a decent standard and not over priced. Everything you need and want in a pub really. Would and have recommended plenty of times.
Keir - 28 Nov 2005 11:58
What a great pub! The only place I'd go back to time after time in Camberwell. Having lived in the area for years now, the arrival of this cool, quietly stylish venue has meant that finally my partner and I don't have to trek to Clapham or Brixton for a 'local' day or night out. As a lunch/supper spot the food is very good value; upmarket pub grub it may be but it's done well and with a twist that takes it way above usual wine bar fare. Sunday lunch can't be beaten for the price anywhere in the area; I know 'cos I've tried them all! Coupled with the relaxed-bloody-mary-hair-of-the-dog-read-the-papers-sunday-chillout vibe it's unbeatable. Come the weekend the place buzzes with just the right friendly, chatty crowd (yep you get to talk to a fair few) and great music that begs you to dance by the time the dancefloor fills. And even at its busiest, you still get served at the bar in reasonable time. The staff are friendly without being overbearing, and overall pretty efficient. Just try it and see.
dalek - 14 Nov 2005 19:56
Have to disagree with the last comment, went into The Castle on Saturday afternoon/evening and stayed almost all night. The bar staff that attended us were very friendly and cheerful, and the clientele was relaxed and easygoing. A great place to lounge, hopefully not to be ruined by the crowd who go there only because it's open late.
cheeks - 14 Nov 2005 16:30
Best after 11pm because its about the only place in Camberwell that doesn charge and is open to 2am. Not worth botering with during the day though...
anonymous - 14 Nov 2005 15:00
it is with great sadness that i read the comments posted by anonymous. As the owner of both venues I cannot apologise enough. There is no excuse for any of the complaints you have raised. I have taken immediate measures to safeguard against any further failings in standard .(The chicken sandwich is 4 not 4.95 as you stated). I recently introduced a customer care feedback system which i hope you were presented with at the same time your bill was issued. I thankyou for the kind words about the bishop and only hope that you give the castle another try somwtime in the future .

yours sincerely

thebishop - 1 Nov 2005 15:20
Disappointing. The Bishop in East Dulwich is a local of mine and I am impressed by the standard of service and general attention to detail. As a result I ventured to its sister pub, the Castle, for lunch on Saturday. The bar was very quiet with two staff to seven or eight customers. We sat down at a sticky table and waited to be served. When we were served, we ordered our food unfortunatley, before we could ask for some drinks, the waitress disappeared. Not a huge problem so we went up and ordered our drinks. When our drinks arrived we had to return two of the water glasses as they were filthy - it must have been obvious to the staff and left a general feeling of lack of care. No apology or explanation was offered when we went to the bar to replace them. After about 5 minutes we were asked by the other member of staff whether we would like to order food. We explained that we already had. In a busy bar I can understand that confusion can arise as to who has ordered and who hasnt, but not when the bar was so quiet. She then said she would get us cutlery. We got one set of cutlery between two. We were hopeful that the food would make up for the dire service, sadly we were wrong. It was disappointing. A soggy and reheated tartlette was poor and my chicken sandwich was average - there wasnt a huge amount of chicken for 4.95. The chips were also overcooked and soggy. We had been looking forward to trying the Castle after reading the reviews and experiencing the service and quality at the Bishop but sadly cant think of one good reason to return.
anonymous - 31 Oct 2005 13:35
the castle is a great pub, the best infact in camberwell.
my friends and i come here after work every friday night to wind down.
it has a brilliant atmosphere, the staff are very friendly and helpful and they have a cool suggestion box! iv'e put afew in the box and they've now stuch all the suggetions on a wall for all to see...........
it's a big thumbs up from my crowd, keep up the good work guys!
mindyourown - 30 Sep 2005 21:24
I hope you will find on any further visits that the music does not get much louder until 10.30 ish. Thankyou for your comments. My apologies

thebishop - 23 Sep 2005 09:24
One of the best bars in Camberwell. Although the music seems to be getting increasingly louder to the point where it is now impossible to hold a conversation after 9pm on a friday, this is a very nice bar to drink in, especially on a random mid week session.

The food is excellent and is prompt even when the place is busy. When it is quiet the bar staff often take your order at the table which is a good thing as there is a large range of comfy sofas throughout.

Gets busy but seems to be used by most as a post 11pm pub so it is quite easy to get a seat even around 8-8.30, or so it appears to me.
the_sarah_day_fan_club - 19 Sep 2005 18:10
A sound retreat for a drink after the 'lesser' pubs have closed. Good beer and service. A friendly, lively atmosphere.

Oh, and the barmaids are lovely.
kriekboozer - 15 Aug 2005 17:56
This place used to be the Snug Bar, which I loved. At first, I was very disappointed when the Snug closed down and The Castle took it's place. Where the Snug was cosy and cavelike and all about a mad night out, the castle is cool and airy and much more 'dignified'. But it's grown on me. The food is very nice - I recommend the fillet steak burger - and it's a comfortable and relaxing place to hang out. It gets too smoky sometimes, and I'm not keen on the gigantic wineglasses - unless you get a bottle of wine you feel like you've hardly got a mouthful in there! The wine list is very good though and they are about to start serving Leffe blonde beer according to a sign outside so that gets a thumbs up from me.
Amanda_Fuller - 13 Jun 2005 17:12
We had a function here at Christmas, manager & staff are very friendly and helpful, food is excellent, dog v. cute (scary eyes). I recommend the steak sandwich, which is traditionally very easy to screw up as pub grub, but is consistently yummy at the castle.
Wixy - 6 Feb 2005 13:12
Popped into this pub a while ago for a first date and haven't stopped popping in ever since. Really lovely pub with great lagers and fantastic staff. I work in pubs myself and as a result I'm usually quite picky, but this place is top notch.

Bonus point: The barmaid Maddy is very lovely indeed. Not to mention gorgeous.
Ali - 18 Nov 2004 11:34
Local boozer of mine, top service, good crowd. Has to be the best establishment in Camberwell, relaxing environment (interior massively improved) and the weekend late liscence is always a winner
Andrew Punter - 17 Nov 2004 12:12
dear anon. Having read your comments with interest I thought I should reply. It is true that sunday evenings we often run low on food. This is because everything is prepared in house (including real chips). It is a sign of good kitchen management for a pub (we have never called ourselves a restaurant) to run out of food. We have never served roast lamb only chicken, beef and a veggie roast.So maybe it was beef that arrived cold, for that I apologise. We do not have a blackboard for menus at all, so no changes would have been 'on the blackboard'. I personally do not think 2 for a bottle of coke, in a quality clean glass is expensive compared to some other local establishments that charge 1.50 for a glass of pre-mixed muck. Our beers/lagers are between 2.70 -2.90 Quality house spirits 2.20, all in line with other pubs of this standard. Contact me on the email below and perhaps I can tempt you in for another visit
scott - - 13 Nov 2004 11:52
The most accomodating staff ever. A great golden ale on tap. A pub dog. An open fire. Late license. Table service should be in the standards oub of the year competition.
petra - 12 Nov 2004 11:11
went for a quick bite, had the fillet steak burger... and it was totally fantastic! good wine and a lovely place... would love to try thr brunch there.
Laura - 9 Jun 2004 11:36
I was very disappointed with this bar/restaurant.

I went with a group of friends on Sunday evening - we were told that many of the dishes including roast chicken and even chips were off the menu as they had run out.

Once food was ordered, it did not arrive for over an hour even though the restaurant was not that busy.

When it did arrive, the roast lamb was undercooked and we were disappointed to see that the only vegetables with the roast dinner were broccoli and mashed potato - no roast potatoes as advertised! Portions were small.

We complained to the manager who said that the lack of veg had been written up on a blackboard which we did not see. Although she did not appologise, she did offer us a round of drinks as compensation.

Drinks were expensive too - 330ml of coke (the amount in a can) cost 2 and alcohol was pricey too.

Although the food was poor, our waitress was helpful and friendly.
Anon - 21 Mar 2004 21:10
Fantastic pub. Great in the afternoon, geat in the evening. Papers available, menu looks good, good beer. An open fire inthe corner and great artwork on the walls (which changes often). Everything it does has some flair even down to the seating! Dancing on the tables is allowed at the weekends!
Simon - 20 Feb 2004 15:06
Have the most amazing fish and seafood dishes at really good prices.
rowan - 3 Feb 2004 11:06
Hmm, am surprised by the other positive comments about this bar. It's OK. Arty types mostly. Nothing to write home about (but obviously something to write about on this website...)
Parsnip - 19 Jan 2004 15:33
Really fabulous food and well kept bitter (but limited to one brand). Spacious and comfortable tables / seating. Only drawback: in the evening the music is stupidly loud (not so at lunch) making conversation impossible - otherwise I'd live there!
Jamie - 2 Oct 2003 19:48
fantastic pub with amazing roasts and really comfy sofas. Perfect for those hungover Sundays. Added bonus is table service for the extra lazy (or sick)
Ellie - 2 Sep 2003 10:51
right music. table service. well looked after ales AND a 2 pm license at weekends with DJs who don't play house.
steve roper - - 20 Aug 2003 15:28
Very cool ambience - service was good - a chilled night out was completed here.
bo - 30 Jul 2003 13:04
The Castle has some very good food and with the introduction of Broadside real ale a better pint than the Snug. Its good to see the new air con for us non smokers.
jim - - 6 Jun 2003 04:31
This pub is now called The Castle - haven't been in yet but the decor hasn't changed much. However they do have oysters on the menu (a plate full or just a single).
Rachel Aucott - 3 Jun 2003 12:06
Used to be Babushkas and was a scabby hole. Now its a favourite boozer of mine and my local chums. Pleasantly dimly lit with a roaring fire at the back and big leather sofas - cosy for winter. Particularly good on Sunday evenings when there's live jazz. Usually quite busy but not sweatily heaving.
jules - 7 Mar 2003 14:18

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