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Pembury Tavern, Hackney

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user reviews of the Pembury Tavern, Hackney

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

After a visit to the Cock Tavern, our final port of call for the day, following a trip to the London Stadium, was the Pembury. Since I was last here, the pub has been taken over by the Five Points Brewery. I don't believe Milton are represented in the capital anymore. Five Points Pale, Brick Field Brown & Railway Porter were on, along with Timothy Taylor Landlord & Siren Yulu. The real cider was Haywood Farm Cornish Cider. The interior has been altered slightly. But, it was just as busy as ever late on a Saturday evening and they still serve pizzas. The Pembury seems none the worse for the takeover. Still a solid 8/10 from me.
blue_scrumpy - 31 Mar 2019 15:06
Our final pub of the day was the ever-reliable Pembury Tavern. It had the usual range of Milton ales - Mammon, Minotaur, Nero, Sparta, Medusa, Irene & Justinian. Guests were Slaters Haka & Vog Dark Matter. Ciders were Twisted Misty & Springfield Old Barn. The pizzas looked very tempting. I must try one next time I'm here. My previous reviews were slightly negative, on reflection. So I'm upgrading my score to a 8/10.
blue_scrumpy - 23 Apr 2017 12:25
I met a few old friends in here on Friday night. Needless to say, the place was heaving with hipster types - graphic designers, IT consultants, public relations people... you know the type. The décor is what you might call 'shabby chic'. The toilets were in a disgusting state, but that might be down to the clientele misusing them. The beers - which are very good - are all named after mythical characters: Sparta, Minotaur etc.. The Sparta was tasty. For some strange reason, pizza is their main food option. Some hipsters were very animated whilst playing bar billiards.Prices are what you would expect for London, nudging £4 a pint. All in all, a good traditional boozer.
HornchurchJohn - 7 Dec 2015 12:02
After a swift half at the Winchmore Hill Cricket Club, we caught the train down to Hackney to visit the Pembury. The pub feels a little more worn than on my last visit. The gents don't seem in the best condition. They had a good range of Milton ales as usual - Medea, Minotaur, Nero, Saturn, Medusa, Justinian, Pegasus & Minerva. In addition, they had 2 guests - Partners Blonde & Sonnet 43 Steam Beer. The real cider - Cock Eyed Cock Bird was almost finished. But they squeezed a half out for me. I thought it was much quieter than on previous visits too. There were plenty of spare tables on this Saturday afternoon visit. I wasn't too enamoured with the quality of the Milton beers either. There were 3 dark beers and none were that good. Having visited the 2 Milton pubs in Cambridge, the Pembury doesn't quite live up to high expectations. Try the Devonshire Arms in Cambridge for a slightly better experience.
blue_scrumpy - 31 Aug 2015 14:03
A better experience this visit. Lots of people in on a Saturday late afternoon.
Good choice of Milton beers and others. large pizza is about £9-10. Good relaxed atmosphere. What is painted on the walls? they would be better in a plain colour.
rpf1955 - 25 Mar 2015 19:36
Even though this pub looks like it was put together by a committee, you should try one here if you are in the area. The beer is ok, the bar staff really friendly, and it's close to the Cock Tavern so you can easily escape when the silly decor and punters start to get on your nerves.
Green_0nions - 2 Feb 2014 15:30
Catering for a young, bearded studenty crowd, this pub accepts Bitcoin and serves mostly overly hopped "craft beer" type ales though there is an impressive selection. I did long for a simple best bitter but it's not really that type of establishment so opted for some sort of expensive unpasteurised lager which in fairness went down pretty well. Overall I feel this pub could do with improving the atmosphere as it's a bit clinical but full credit to them for getting a range our beer out to the hipsters. Also very crowded on weekends so would go mid-week.
Richard_ReadingFC - 6 Jan 2014 12:16
One of my favourite pubs in London. There are about 12 handpulls with around half Miltons and the rest guest ales with some interesting ones from London. The food is good with but limited to pizzas in mid afternoon. The bar billiards table and the loos have seen better days.Very convenient for bus 38 from central London and LOndon Overground . If you like your ale in an earthy surroundings then this is a great place.
Steamer1 - 17 Mar 2013 22:23
Big one bar pub with lots of Milton beers from Cambridge on, young crowd for an ale house with excellent pizza on offer. I stick to the two guest beers as I haven't found a Milton beer I really like yet.
Henners - 26 Sep 2012 17:07
I recently paid my first visit here for some years and it seems to have come on a lot. It felt lively, with quite a diverse clientele. I was also pleased to see that there were a number of guest beers available (I remember when it first re-opened that it only offered Milton ales). However, the two beers I tried (Banks & Taylor Black Dragon Mild and Colchester Brewery Red Diesel) were both a little on the lukewarm and flat side. Neither was bad enough to return but they were not in an optimum state, to my mind.
beermann - 4 Sep 2012 10:44
Excellent range of ales , had my first taste of Buntingford Galaxy ,full of hops and citrus flavors I hope to find some more soon. I didn't find the large size of the room detracting from the pub at all and will revisit as soon as possible.
Picasso09 - 27 Jun 2012 19:06
Agree that this was probably a Victorian gem at one time but is now just cavernous and echoey. That said, it sells excellent ale which is a definite plus, and does without either a TV or recorded music so you can at least conduct a conversation without cupping your hands over your ears and saying 'eh?'. Food is good too, although it is much more of a drinking than eating establishment.
All in all, tries hard but just lacks a bit of star quality.
Campanologist - 9 May 2012 16:43
Imposing pub, but disappointingly characterless barn-like inside. Like a McSpoons would be if they ran out of money. Wide range of Milton beers; my Tiki looked like soup but was drinkable.
Shame that some time in the past all the original features were ripped out, it must have been quite a palace once.
curioushistory - 3 May 2012 13:43
I'd heard good things about this place, so was looking forward to visiting as part of the RateBeer North London Line pub crawl. Unfortunately the pub was struggling to open as they hadn't cleared up from the previous night. The place was a bit of a mess, and we were told to wait outside in the cold until they were ready to open. The mess was clearly going to take a while to open so we tried to negotiate with the manager, pointing out that we couldn't wait outside for half an hour. He said, somewhat impatiently but understandably, that he would be able to open quicker if I stopped talking with him. I offered our assistance in cleaning up. He agreed, then changed his mind when he saw there were ten of us. So we went to the Wetherspoon. I'll likely be doing another crawl on the North London Line in the summer - hopefully the pub will be open and tidy on that occasion.
SilkTork - 17 Jan 2012 09:34
I haven't been here for a few years, but paid a return visit on Wednesday night. The Milton beers are still on - Nero, Tiki, Sparta, Dionysus, Pegasus, Saturnalia & Minotaur on my visit. They were supplemented by 2 guests - Tring Side Pocket For A Toad & Nethergate Red Poll. Cider was Millwhites Mixed Scrumpy. This is still easily the best pub in Hackney and has a prominent position on a busy junction and near two rail stations. The high ceiling creates a sort of echoey schoolroom atmosphere. But the beers make up for it. I particularly enjoyed the Nero. I'll try to make another visit sooner next time. As the previous reviewer states however, the toilets are fairly unpleasant.
blue_scrumpy - 13 Jan 2012 21:04
Had great expectations for this pub. Dissapointed to see very limited selection of ale, filthy smelly toilets and zero atmosphere. Girl behind bar looked fed up as well. Would suggest a rethink here
potyman - 7 Dec 2011 15:39
A large open plan pub occupying a corner plot with 16 handpumps and also a few barrels on this visit. I had a pint of the West Berkshire 'Good Old Boy' which was ok then followed that up with a very mediocre pint of Tap House Kingdom. It is wtihout doubt the best pub in the vicinity but I think that they are going for quantity over quality as the first pint was drinkable but not exceptional and the second pint was pretty poor.
One of the top pubs in the country ? ...afraid far from it - the beer has to be exceptional for that.
Snarling_Mallard - 25 Nov 2011 17:55
One of the top pubs in the country, to be sure. Quite bright and airy, fabulous beer selection, big mix of clientele, always lively and buzzing despite the absence of music.
swcooper - 11 Aug 2011 23:07
Notes from my visit on 31 Jan 2010:

Easy enough pub to find, it's sandwiched on a five-way junction between Dalston Lane and Amhurst Road. It's huge and seems decidedly bare inside (lack of furnishings other than tables and chairs) but it had a red baized pool table in one corner - and low and behold a smart-looking Jelkes bar billiards table in another corner.

Pegs were in the correct place (unusual for a London pub) but on trying the break shot the object ball made a direct line for the 50 but then deviated away sharply at the last moment.

Farbeit from me to try and alter it, but with the table rolling alarmingly to the right, obviously the two left legs are set too high and it shouldn't take a genius to level it up - it's what the leg adjusters are for - yes ?

Anyway, I played it as I saw it for a bit of fun and almost managed a thousand break making some ridiculous allowances on shots. Apart from a D with more craters than Mars, the cloth and cushions seemed in very reasonable condition.

No sign of landlord Steve, just one dolly bird doing the bar, who served me with a half of vile, cloudy cider, of which I could only manage a couple of sips before having to make tracks for my concert.

Bar billiards somehow seems right here, and is no doubt popular with the locals, but scores on it are going to resemble 4-pin all the time it's so out of level, with no hope of nurturing any local prowess.
tommo5 - 25 Jul 2011 22:45
What a great pub. Milton Minotaur followed by Pegasus, Sparta then half the Nero stout. All well kept. About 3 guests on but wasn't bothered about them. Barman very good at giving tasters. Excellent.
Booze_Allen - 18 Jun 2011 18:20
I got off the bus at Hackney Downs and popped in the nearest pub and how lucky was I ? Half a dozen beers by the Milton brewery, a very tempting food menu - priced right by the looks of things. A mixed clientele. Groovy girls and guys but also older drinky types like me. Friendly but no-nonsense service. This pub is a credit to Hackney. 10/10
dry_riser_inlet - 12 Apr 2011 17:04
one of the best pubs in London, the food is delicious, the ale and whiskey choices are brilliant and the atmosphere is really relaxed and friendly. Love this place!
jodiemoon - 30 Jan 2011 18:02
Autumn 2010 has seen a fantastic change at the Pembury. New Italian chef does stunning thin pizzas and great authentic menu for an excellent price.
No music, what bliss. People of all ages, totally relaxed, a real sense of neighbourhood. The sort of place you could go to alone as woman and feel completely comfortable. Fiveways, the junction where the Pembury sits, is not promising, but this is a real boon. Been living in the area for 20 years and waiting for a homely establishment with high food standards. Try it or re-try it!
engelanne - 18 Dec 2010 07:18
Despite the recent reviews, below, I carried on with a planned trip to this pub last night. The Milton beers I drank were neither watery nor tasteless and the guest beer was fine. My friends and I ate pizza at 5.50 a pop - quality was comparable with somewhere like Pizza Express.

Staff were friendly.

So either the guvnor had read the recent reviews and acted upon them, or the reviewers were unduly critical.
Ordinary - 21 Oct 2010 23:01
Oh dear, what can the matter be,
Pembury's gone down the lavatory,
Won't be back there on Saturday,
Or any other day of the week 'til it gets sorted out good and proper! Shame that it's got this bad, used to be a must visit after Pigs Ear, not this year...

elsie_pop - 17 Oct 2010 13:06
...echoes the feelings of many...
Dimple_mug - 16 Oct 2010 11:36
I was astounded tonight at the total dive this pub has taken.

It used to be a favourite, and now the beer is boring, watery and tasteless, where it used to be well kept and varied. the food used to be outstanding but the kitchen has changed and is now a total rip-off that leaves you feeling insulted.

What a shame, and a waste of a formerly great pub.
juliastig - 13 Oct 2010 21:41
New chef thinks vegetarians are dieters. Added to seven pumps of watery Milton beer, and one flat, bland guest, and I'll probably not bother coming here again.
london_drunker - 13 Oct 2010 19:40
Dimple_mug - 10 Oct 2010 02:18
Pleasant evening last night. 5 miltons and 2 guests on. Note food is currently suspended until the weekend when a new Italian/Mediterranean menu will be offered.
lad_newton - 7 Oct 2010 21:51
Went in on a Saturday lunchtime, only 3 real ales on and then the draught cider ran out after 2 halves. Food looked unapertising. Had 1 drink and left.
rpf1955 - 30 Sep 2010 15:55
in danger of falling out of the GBG for 2012
Dimple_mug - 14 Sep 2010 12:10
Went in for the first time on a weekday afternoon. There were 5 real ales on: 4 of them from the Milton Brewery - the TIKI was reasonably good. A bit of a limited choice for a large 'real ale' pub with 16 hand-pumps, though. There was a good choice of foreign beers and malt whiskeys, but the wine selection was poor. The bar maid was pleasant enough, but seemed disinterested and perhaps typified the whole place. It just looked like no-one really cared enough - it was grubby, neglected and looked unloved. I just hope the cleaner or manager or someone who gives a xxxx sorts it out soon! Probably worth a second look though.
halfabitterman - 16 Aug 2010 20:37
The Holly Street Boys should steam this place and make off with all the laptops
redrocket - 25 Mar 2010 15:50
We went to the festival last friday, it was very good. Excellent range of beers, helpful staff, good food. The interior lacks a little charm due to all the walls that have obviously been knocked out at some stage. Good pub though.
pubinspectors - 17 Mar 2010 13:57
Enjoyable festival this week, went in on the first day with a few friends. A fest of two halves: Milton at the bar (mainly) and guests at the stillage rack. Very humourous Chinese girl behind the bar - lively temperament and a smile for everyone. Beers on the stillages good, but if anything a tad below design temperature. Lots of beers from mainly eastern England breweries, many of which I have seen before, but still good to taste them again.

Could I just take issue with Persona Non Grata, in that you definitely DO NOT have to leave in a taxi. There are plenty of frequent night bus services in all directions and I have never had a problem leaving the Pembury. The area is as safe as anywhere else in London.
Phucough - 14 Mar 2010 14:33
Attended yesterday with a few friends for the pub's festival. Started very quietly but picked up through the evening. Cellar cask ales via handpump were on better form on the whole than stillaged gravity ales; two were excellent: Grand Slam, Whitstable East India Pale Ale, and Moorhouses Blond Witch. Many familiar names and "trips down memory lane" beerwise. The festival continues through the weekend.
lad_newton - 12 Mar 2010 00:21
Excellent place; any pub that makes its own pork scratchings and has a ludicrous number of real ales available gets my vote. There's also a fairly good selection of standard and continental lagers and beers. Interesting building and interior, plus a bar billiards table complete with instructions, if you fancy something a bit different to the usual game of pool. I haven't eaten there but the menu looks good, even offering some vegan options. One of my favourite pubs in London!
jacobross1 - 14 Feb 2010 19:39
Well done Steve and everyone else for the splendid NYE session. Excellent beer line up and great gig. The venue "rocked" last night and everyone enjoyed themselves. A prosperous new year to all of you a the Pembury.
lad_newton - 2 Jan 2010 00:49
Enormous pub at the corner of Hackney Downs/Amhurst rd. Taken there by some Camra lads from work a few weeks ago. Good food. Loved their fishcakes, and one of our group had a huge meat pie with yummy pastry and veg I helped him finish. Mmmmmmm. People playing games like chess and draughts. Some people KNITTING - had to laugh but good on ya girl. Loved the pub in general, but best advice ladies is to come and go by taxi, and be safe and sound.
persona_non_grata - 31 Dec 2009 21:37
I have always liked this pub and found the bar staff very friendly. The Beer is great and the food although sometimes a bit inconsistant, generally quite good. What this pub really needs is someone to go and clean the toilets which are disgusting. Simply throwing the odd blue toilet cleaner in the urinal is simply not good enough and it reflects badly on the pub.
Roxy01 - 23 Dec 2009 08:06
Good end to the night after going in the Ocean nearby for pigsear fest. Pub in good shape and miltons in good nick. Bar staff friendly and cheerful, makes a change from a lot of pubs ive been in of late
jamie.nakin - 2 Dec 2009 00:27
Fantastic place. Started a 15-pub pub-crawl here that wended its way all through Hackney down to Old Street, and this was a great start, straight out of Hackney Downs station. A friend of mine had an exemplary BLT sandwich and a couple of us had some of the delicious organic beer. But great food and great beer alone wouldn't sell it for me: this is a great pub all round and in a lovely old building too.
Greshon - 25 Nov 2009 14:30
Amused by the previous comment, but don't expect the same service. I'm highly unlikely to still be in the kitchen at 22.30, my pies have pastry underneath as well as on top so you would still get to try some, I would not know if you were ordering in accurate grammatical Dutch and the wireless internet is free to all.
kchef - 22 Nov 2009 22:36
VERY enjoyable 1st night of the festival last night. Anyone going tonight should try the Ufford beers if they are still on. Foodwise the fishcakes (main menu) and the cougette/parsnip soup are good so is the shepherds pie (both on specials board). The pub's own webpage carries the current festival beerlist.
lad_newton - 19 Nov 2009 17:31
Congratulations to Steve & Co. The Pembury Tavern has been voted London Pub of the Year by the Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood (SPBW). Encouraging to see how trade has picked up here since it re-opened.
ed.spbw - 20 Oct 2009 13:08
Great beer (and cider), good staff but the vegetarian food is limited and what there is can be a bit heavy e.g. chick pea pasty and chips.

There are a lot of vegetarians in Hackney so could try a little harder.
Roding_W - 14 Aug 2009 18:39
Large open-planned pub with high ceiling so can feel a little empty. Good pub food available. Wonderful range of beer, including a wide variety of Milton ales. There is a beer festival on the weekend of 18th July.
Rod_Hariga - 14 Jul 2009 20:37
Appears massive but, like the Napoleonic era Martello Towers of the east coast, quite compact inside. Six Milton brewery pumps, four of which I had never drunk, plus guests. Seems to have undergone some recent decoration. The overall impression is of pine wood. The large windows give it a pleasant, airy atmosphere. As you enter, enjoy what must be the smallest roundabout for a five way junction in existence. You won't enjoy it on the way out as it is so dangerous and you will need all your jaywalking skills. Recommended.
BitterShurn - 22 Jun 2009 20:51
Superb pub with excellent range of beers, friendly and helpful staff, decent food and wide-ranging clientele - including the chap who brings his ferret in. Quite right too - why shouldn't ferrets be able to enjoy good pubs like the rest of us?
E17Bee - 22 Jun 2009 20:50
Revisited on Friday night and happy to see it was pretty full. Usual wide range of ale although I was disappointed with both the Nero and Marcus Aurelius, not down to the pub though. Before they had Budvar as the only lager, now they have a couple of different foreign lagers.

They even let me put up a Kingston Beer Festival poster!

Still excellent.
GuideDogSaint - 14 Jun 2009 11:15
One of my favourite pubs, friendly staff ,with good selections of beers and wines.

The food amazing and very reasonably priced.
TONSAI - 12 Jun 2009 15:38
Very well-kept beers (6 from Milton Brewery) plus a cider and a couple of guests. Very friendly, well worth a look. Recommended.
Spodgey - 25 May 2009 10:06
This is definitely one for the real ale fans as Fosters swigging football fans need not apply. There is a pool table and bar billiards, but this place is basically a large sparsely decorated room with no TVs, but eight or so well kept bitters and a couple of premium lagers.

This is more ale hall than pub and it is good for a few beers, but I wouldnt want to stay all evening.
Strongers - 20 May 2009 11:42
This hostelry specialises in the most quaffable of ales from Milton's Brewery! A cheery crowd of locals (how lucky they are!) and discerning visitors from farther afield (your correspondent!) were served with care and condescension by the expert serving staff. Yet again, my excellent command of English came up trumps, and I was treated to a pint of Pegasus! (We Dutchies are the world's best linguistics, you know.)

I am pleasantly surprised by the low cost of beer in London (compared with Amsterdam). This is making it easy for me to drink oodles on my crawl around London! Congratulations all round to the brewery and the publican!! 10 out of 10 for everyone involved!!!

jongen_nieuwton - 15 May 2009 17:11
Yes, more dimple mugs should be on offer in the pub. But they are hard to find these days, and consequently get nicked from pubs often. Challis brought a couple in to the Pembury a while back and they promptly went missing.
The laptop issue is getting quite out of hand now...even in the evenings you look round and there's all these yuppies are checking their myface and spacebook. Mug of coffee or glass of water by their side, of course.
Dimple_mug - 5 May 2009 12:51
A large pub where we caught back up with the rest of our touring party on Saturday. I have to agree with Holbornboy it is a very strange front door for a pub. It is more like a rear exit than a front door and did not look particularly inviting. When we entered it was a pretty large pub with an equally large bar. Sixteen hand pumps on the long bar with most of the Milton range with a couple of guests. The friendly and helpful barmaid serving Saturday lunch time looked after us. I tried Minotaur Mild, Nero Stout and Icarus all from Milton Brewery. All the beer our group tasted was in fine form. The temperature of beer I enjoyed was certainly in the perfect 12 or 13 degrees area. I am not sure why they only have one handled mug/jug. Many ale fans prefer to drink from these types of glasses. Many of our group eat here and seemed to enjoy the food.
Love_good_ale - 14 Apr 2009 15:46
If this was ever a proper pub, someone has been spectacularly successful at removing every last vestige of character it might once have had. I felt like I'd walked into the local community hall. You enter via what looks like an emergency exit and find yourself in a large, cavernous space not helped by the brightly painted walls. Below a high ceiling, beams are adorned with hundreds of beermats, while a long bar occupies most of the back wall.
Ten ales on the pumps, seven from the Milton Brewery. I sampled three of the Milton offerings - Nero, a porter-style beer, Mammon, a very strong ale and Sparta, a light, hoppy ale. All were well kept, though a couple of degrees warmer than I would have liked.
I might pay a return visit if in the area, but it's not the kind of place I like to drink in.
holbornboy - 14 Apr 2009 12:11
Pembury Tavern is normally the start of day out in London for me. I've always liked the pub , the good and friendly service and of course the beers.

Last thursday I finished the day out with three friends at the Pembury. For the first time I have seen the pub full of people which really did increase the atmosphere a lot.

The pints they sold during the beer festival where -as their normal beers- superb. I'll certainly be back whenever I get the chance.
Pidley2547 - 12 Mar 2009 22:12
Great festival; superb beer range from micros and a wonderful conversational atmosphere. In complete agreement with all of the last few reviewers, what I found matches the "spec".
Phucough - 8 Mar 2009 15:17
Was in last night before the Spurs v Boro game. They had just started their beer festival so the choice was awesome and the quality brilliant as ever. Had the most home made cornish pasty I've ever had in my life. In fact I'm pretty sure it was made in a home that had no idea what a cornish pasty was. Strange it may have been, but it was huge and tasty and a good price. Can't fault this place, in fact given what happened later and the fact that I'm a Boro fan I think I should have stayed all night!
Alfnoax - 5 Mar 2009 11:48
The Pembury is an excellent place to meet friends and play a variety of games. As well as providing interesting ales and real cider, they also cater really well for those who don't drink alcohol. Fentiman's yummy Curiosity Cola is available, as well as other drinks in that range. The food is good for omnivores, vegetarians and vegans.
Nye - 22 Feb 2009 10:33
A group of us attended a stag night here yesterday. There is a good selection of Milton Ales, unfortunately two of them - the Jericho and Icarus - ran out shortly after we arrived. Never mind, the remaining beers were good.
Yes, the pub does has the air of a library/church hall and there was a procession of weird customers - women with kids, a guy with his bike, CAMRA types - coming through, but all in all, we enjoyed it here, playing pool and bar billiards. Highly recommended for people who just like good beer and a chat.
HornchurchJohn - 8 Feb 2009 18:27
Pleasant afternoon visit yesterday. Enjoyed the Milton "Tiki" (3.8%) and Blanche De Brux in particular. The mead was a welcome warmer as well.

Keep up the good work!
scissorkicks - 11 Jan 2009 16:15
really great pub... always different beers on, there's a pool table and a nice neutral decor. they do beer festivals, though i've not made it to any yet
Qiyamah - 10 Jan 2009 20:37
There's been a lack of stand-out guests recently, but we might start being lucky again.
A bit of a small shake-up in staff is in order maybe.
Other than that, continues to be a most welcoming local.
Dimple_mug - 5 Jan 2009 09:40
Thanks to all for a SUPERB NYE at the Pembury. The Guitar Heroes WII was a stroke of genius, and it was a lively, yet very relaxed party. Thanks Simon for the tasty sausage, and thanks Steve and the team for making it all happen. It was one of the most enjoyable NYEs I have attended since 2000!
lad_newton - 2 Jan 2009 10:24
This pub is fantastic and is quite possibly in my top 10 of all time. The staff are friendly, courteous and helpful with absolutely no attitude whatsoever (a triumph considering many other nearby establishments). Fantastic range of beers and great food, the cost of which doesn't leave you feeling like you've been mugged, to boot.

Yes it has the air of a church hall/community centre about it and you do wonder whether it's open on arrival. Yes some of the clientle are intensely, toe-curlingly annoying (in a goatee-sporting, media working, child called Fifi Trixibelle-type way), but I can't help it - I find it great!
dhalliford - 21 Dec 2008 19:29
Two cracking sessions over the weekend. Crouch Vale amongst the excellent guest beers on. Whilst previous reviewers have views that I respect (although not necessarily share) regarding the ambience at this establishment, the pub has come a long way since January 2006.

The staff have to be commended for their customer-based approach to the running of the Pembury, and the level of customer afforded is second to none. It is for this reason that I continue to give the pub a high rating. Well done, and thanks for the weekend.
lad_newton - 8 Dec 2008 18:32
Great Hackney pub with plenty of beers from the Milton Brewery., plus one guest beer. This one was from Crouch Vale. They also have a changing guest cider - Upper House Whiskey Cask during my visit. Don't miss the bar billiards table in one corner. I've yet to see this pub really busy, which is a shame.
blue_scrumpy - 2 Dec 2008 21:08
The is the first time Ive been in this Pub since the early 1980s when I used to go there to watch 50s tribute bands like The Flying Saucers & The Rapiers. It was mainly a Guinness & Lager pub in them days.
Much Better Beer choice Now with some good Real Ales on tap and its been restored nicely to its original appearance where possible.
Alesonly - 21 Oct 2008 11:01
A few negative reviews recently, and everyone's entitled to their opinion, here's mine.

Music - is only a recent phenomenon in pubs.....some landlords think it adds atmosphere, it doesn't....people create atmosphere, although I do get hacked off by yuppies shouting. One landlord I spoke to said music meant you couldn't hear other's conversation....not a good reason to have piped music.

Pubs always used to have frosted glass etc, and it's true you can't peer into this place from the you want people peering in at you once you're inside? If you push the door you'll see the pub's open.

When the Pembury is empty, it's quiet, and a good place to read the paper etc (without "relaxing" muzak). When full, it's buzzing. Very friendly bar staff.

I find the lighting perfect, not bright at all. Only recent criticism was gents stank a bit, which you normally get in dives, but these toilets are like new!

Beer selection is always good and although not all ales on top form, there's normally a couple which are excellent. Always a cider on, and the draught lager Moravka is special.

There's a beer fest soon 12th - 16th November, and well worth a visit.

Disley - 17 Oct 2008 00:59
At least eight hand pulled cask ales, most of them from Milton, but also including some guest beers, all found in perfect shape. Some interesting bottled beers form Germany and Belgium. Informal, charming and airy place with a laid back, relaxing interior. Good food. Excellent service
rune - 15 Oct 2008 08:22
This pub looks alright from the outside so I went in one sunday to check it out. It was a bit like someone had turned the gravity up so i was weighed down to the floor a bit uncomfortably. I think the weight was the force of smug. The point of loud music in pubs I suppose, even if its really bad, is to drown out the offensively inane conversations of the w**kers around you. Here unfortunately it was deathly musicless so I was forced to take in all the noise pollution of people talking over-loudly about mortgages. Children ran around. The lights were bright. It seemed that everything good about being a pub had been sucked out of it and replaced with a kind of theme park of anxiety inducement.
foreignpilot - 12 Oct 2008 21:11
Rather an odd pub. For starters it looks shut from the outside, and when you get inside it's the wrong shape, which sounds ridiculous until you see it for yourself. There's more atmosphere in a library, the ceiling's too high and did I mention it's the wrong shape? They have a large selection of unusual beers which is fine unless you like lager, of which there is one. Rather an odd pub.
usualdog - 3 Oct 2008 13:23
Has a touch of 'Student Union' about it.... (counted 5 (yes 5!) young men sporting goatees. Unicycles chained up out front, with the fear of spontaneous juggling breaking out a constant threat. The beers have names straight out of Lord of the Rings or some such nonsense.

Staff bigging up the Nero stout - tasted like flat slops to me

redrocket - 19 Sep 2008 14:34
My local because I live several paces from it. Just as I was seriously getting into beer, it opened in its current guise, been with it since then.
Guest beers have increased in quality since beginning, they are currently on a very good run of guest milds, which is handy since I love mild and hate the Milton mild (Minotaur).
The Milton stout Nero is their best brew (everyone agrees), and is almost always on, another big bonus.
Steve, Chris, Simon and Joe are all great guys really. Good beer, good company, that's what you want for a midweek pint. French Tom was something of a loss.

A lot has been said about the building, too big, etc. and I can't see what can be done about that. A few more smaller tables would be a good move.
Last festival was a little too busy in that the casks on the stillage had finished and we were waiting for things to come on the bar. Sure they'll the balance better next time.

Having no piss keg lager on from the start was a ballsy move, one I respected a hell of a lot. Good range of Belgian and German bottles, including the crowd favourite, Schlenkerla Rauchbier.
Dimple_mug - 4 Sep 2008 14:20
I visited recentl after a gap,the beer quality is still
very good however the food quality seems to have dipped if the small sliver of Steak and Kidney pie , i received is to believed , a large amount of mash and other vegetables with a small slice of pie
martynd - 30 Aug 2008 16:15
Absolutely DIVINE pint of Buntingford Golden Plover last night. When I arrived the Pem seemed quieter than usual for a bank holiday Monday evening but, one by one, the regulars roamed in through the latter part of the evening. Slaters' Queen Bee and Milton Dionysus on their usual excellent form, and with Chris behind the bar and Vince afore it, quality intelligent conversation ruled the roost. Now I come to think of it, I've never had anything BUT quality, intelligent discourse with ALL the regulars of the Pembury.
lad_newton - 26 Aug 2008 19:21
Full of knobbers
LemonGrass - 19 Aug 2008 14:33
Paid a visit to the current festival on Wednesday, and it was more than worth the trip in from leafy Buckinghamshire. Superb selection, everything I tried was in top nick. The Moravka lager is a great addition, as well! I had the Thai fish cake for dinner, and it was excellent as ever.

Love this place - it *almost* makes me wish I still lived in London, which is saying something.
scissorkicks - 18 Jul 2008 12:23
Another excellent beer festival (runs until 20 July) and good to see it well supported by Hackney locals as well as the usual beer buffs. Well done to Steve and co.
ed.spbw - 17 Jul 2008 19:42
Can't really add much to RogerB's excellent review below, as I agree with most of what he's said.

The ale/cider range is super, it's well served and the oversized glasses are always a bonus.

But as a pub? It doesn't work for me. It's just too big, cavernous and (dare I say it) clinical - no atmosphere and character a lot of the time.

Worth seeking out for the ale and cider range, but make sure you bring your friends!
Quinno - 25 Jun 2008 12:04
I find the Pembury a bit of an enigma, so many plus points but, as has been pointed out before, it is partly let down by a rather uninspiring interior and at times, rather sedate and hollow atmosphere. It is easy to pass by the Pembury without actually realising it is open, such is the rather unappealing entrance (although there are apparently plans to put in glazed doors and make things look a bit more welcoming from the outside). The interior will hardly have designers foaming at the mouth; basically a shelled, knocked through old pub, a bit cavernous and with dcor that can at best be described as monotonously plain. If it were not for the 1890s photo that appears in the pub and London Drinker adverts, you could be forgiven for thinking that it is a converted Bank or Building Society rather than a long standing Victorian pub. Little, if anything, remains of any original internal features although to be fair, the pub was the victim of a major fire in the late 90s. Modern art prints mix it up with old local black and white photos but there is not enough at the moment to cover the vast expanses of bare painted wall (the pub is openly requesting any old photos that people may have to add to their collection). An ever increasing collection of pump clips is beginning to wind its way around the ceiling beams and above the bar, the pub name is picked out in letters that resemble a junior school playgroup project. The tables are well spaced out but there is a distinct lack of small tables that means if there are just 2 of you, you will inevitably end up sitting at a table big enough for 6 or 8.

Where the Pembury excels is, of course, the beers. 16 hand pumps and even on the quietest evening there will be 8 or 9 in use. The majority of Ales come from the Miltons range and I have tried several different pints on my 2 recent visits and have no issue over quality or price (most are in the 2.80/2.90 range). Also, it is worth noting that they serve in oversized glasses so dont try and shout about short measures as I nearly did! There is usually a mild and real cider available as well as good selection of bottled beers, whisky and wines. Everything is listed above the bar including the forthcoming beers. Regular beer festivals are also a feature.

The pub does have a wonderful approach to pub traditions with classic board games available over the bar, unobtrusive pool table and bar billiards, knowledgeable and approachable staff and a surprising mix of customers of both sexes. The atmosphere may be a bit subdued in off peak times with no music or TVs but this is not necessarily a bad thing and it can be a pleasure to drink in a place that is non threatening and amongst people who are in the pub for the right reasons, quality beer and social interaction. There is an ongoing programme of improvements which I am sure will address some of the negative aspects in due course but, as things stand, it is still a pub well worth seeking out.

RogerB - 25 Jun 2008 10:36
No piped music here (thank goodness), and if you enjoy shouting to make yourself heard over other people's choice of music, then you won't like this pub. If you like excellent real ale then this is an oasis. As with their sister pub, the Oakdale, they are one of the only pubs I know in London where you get a lined glass - which means a full pint, so no confrontation over short measures. They're quite happy to let you sample the beer, and I normally find there's one ale on offer which is particularly good. Only problem I have with the Pembury, is that is could be closer to where I live....10/10
Disley - 6 Jun 2008 22:33
Whilst the beer is always great in the Pembury sadly yesterday lunchtime the food was pretty appalling, a view shared by me a our others.

The fish pie was rank and cold and was sent back, the veggie crumble looked like a lump of suet and tasted none to clever and was sent back. Finally the lamb was served in a foul tasting aniseed gravy. To be fair a refund was given and a sweet given in compensation but after bigging up the lunch menu to our out of town guests we all felt let down.
Bola - 2 Jun 2008 13:06
Any weirdos please sign in.

Weirdo 1 here!
GuideDogSaint - 1 Jun 2008 21:04
I don't like this pub -- it is like a community centre for weirdos. You often can't get on the bar billiards 'cos the dungeons and dragons crew are on there. Strange people accost you when you play pool. There's no music. Middle class Hackney media types bring their children and let them run riot. It smells of food. It might have a good selection of bitter but it's not a proper pub, it's weird, and expensive.
isa953 - 1 Jun 2008 20:59
A cavernous echoing barn but a superb selection of beer for the discerning drinker. A rare London outlet for Cambridge's Milton brewery, serving seven of them yesterday, all tasted, perhaps all actually, on very good form. Also available were two from Great Oakley, Delapre Dark, and Welland Valley Mild plus Tydd Steam Swedish Blonde, Black Friars Spring Tide and Gwatkin real cider. A tremendous selection. A pool table(with purple baize) and also a bar billiards table add to the attraction. Very impressive all round.
Maldenman - 31 May 2008 10:25
My initial impression upon entering was that it looked more like a canteen than a pub and that the atmosphere would probably by a bit odd as a wrong could I be? The pub is spacious so you feel that you can really spread out and relax without intruding on anyone else's personal space. There's enough chatter for there to be a buzz about the place without it being too noisy and raucous. The furniture is comfortable and the place is pretty much spotlessly clean. The bar staff are good and friendly enough without being too chatty, which isn't always a bad thing. The pool table is a welcome distraction and has enough room to cue comfortably and the people that tend to play on it are more frienly and jocular than some of the people that normally congregate around the pool table in other, grimer pubs.
The beer is awesome. Not just in terms of selection (a great range of Milton beers, several guest ales and an array of bottles), but in quality too. Prices are refreshingly cheap for London. I spent most of the evening drinking the excellent Sparta and had a delicious pint of Pegasus to finish the evening off.
Don't be put off by the location (I know full well that Hackney isn't exactly a popular destination for a lot of people despite it's efforts to regenerate itself) as this is a wonderful Oasis of a boozer that is worthy of you custom.
All in all, great beer, good prices (food is a little dearer but looks great and probably still just about represents good value for money), pleasant atmosphere all in a nice building. What more could you reasonably ask for?
Mr.Monkfish - 26 Apr 2008 10:25
Not a bad pub but the service was poor.
slerpy - 4 Apr 2008 13:58
Went to the recent beer festival & it was excellent with a superb choice of beers & a good atmosphere. shame it's so far from me otherwise could easily be my local !
lovesong - 21 Mar 2008 12:02
What a great place. Excellent range of Milton and guest beers. Plain and functional decor, but it is probably the ale that you are here for anyway... SPBW London Pub of the Year 2007.
rpadam - 15 Mar 2008 22:00
Milton's Dionysus was on its asymptotic best last night. Just perfect. And the Mammon stout too. Thanks Tom, as well, for a superb evening - it was once again one of those nights that simply cannot be pre-arranged.
lad_newton - 14 Mar 2008 00:00
Top class festival last week - well done to Steve and the team.
lad_newton - 3 Mar 2008 19:13
Yet another lovely visit to the Pembury last weekend for a pre-birthday celebration. Only the Milton ales and a terrifying-sounding cider - Wobble Juice - were on, but it didn't matter as they were all in great nick.

Just wish the Marcus Aurelius (7.5% or thereabouts) wasn't quite so tasty. I was in a bit of a state on Sunday :)
scissorkicks - 7 Feb 2008 00:38
lovely building and a great interior. A good range of beers.
willbrown - 1 Feb 2008 02:25
Very spacious, although somewhat bare and reminiscent of my old school dining hall it's still worth visiting for the excellent Milton beers on offer. Food is good but somewhat expensive. Clientele can be quirky [had to endure nearly two hours of conversation re World of Warcraft between a loud Hooray Henry type and his female friend with the voice quality of Blackadder's Queenie]
TiaMariaJim - 28 Jan 2008 12:15
Visited for the first time for a pre Pigs Ear drink. Had a very nice pint of Milton's Dionysus and would definitely return.
JonW999 - 8 Dec 2007 06:44
Went to the first day of the Beer Festival and wasnt disappointed by any of the 7/8 beers I had. Service was excellent and once the pub filled up the atmosphere was good too.

Great chips, better class of graffiti in the toilet, and Scampi Flavoured Fries. Fantastic!!

TheHorsesMouth - 15 Nov 2007 08:35
Looks and feels rather like a Youth Hostel kitchen inside, but the beer was tasty and varied so certainly no complaints from me.
Muzthing - 29 Oct 2007 21:53
Wonderful range of Buntingford ales on at present. Enjoyed them last night, tempted to return this evening for more!
lad_newton - 28 Oct 2007 15:28
I really can't add anything to what's already been said time and again on the excellence of the beer range, but here are a couple more points worth making;

The Pembury has disabled access, by a ramp in the main door, and a toilet accessible by wheelchair users.

The real clincher can be seen hanging on the wall behind the bar: an all too rare find these days, the holy trinity of Bacon Fries, Scampi Fries and Cheese Moments.
Martinl - 9 Oct 2007 22:21
Good Beer Guide had arrived and so had the latest edition of What's Brewing which said that this place had been nominated for cider pub of the year. Trekked up and was blown away by the beer range, absolutely fantastic. Tried 4 of the Milton beers and also a half of cider and all top quality.

Only negatives are that from the outside it's easy to miss as it doesn't really look like a pub. Also as I walked in I thought I was back at school as it has a hall feel to it. Only 20 or so people in there on a Saturday night which is a crying shame although good for ordering. Was my by myself but got talking to others at the bar and will definitely be going back, probably for the beer fest in November.

As I rate pubs on ale this really can't be faulted.
GuideDogSaint - 25 Sep 2007 21:05
The beer is excellent, especially the Milton Sparta which was on last night. The food is pretty good too. However the place has no character, it's a barn of a place and the echo effect makes conversation difficult. The ambience yesterday evening was not helped by the presence of a family with screaming brats and a couple having a domestic dispute. Fair do's, the latter were asked to leave, but the noisy kids stayed. As it is somewhat out of my way, I would not make a special effort to visit again but, if in the area, might give it a second chance.
southdown12jack - 21 Sep 2007 14:08
The rather unfortunate review below (21/9/07 @ 1208) could not be further from what the Pembury is about, and should be read in isolation. I have paid regular (albeit not frequent) visits to the Pembury Tavern since it reopened in January 2006.

Thanks to the stirling efforts of Steve Early and his team this pub, that started from zero, has built up a friendly atmoshphere and loyal following amongst those of us who want a decent, interesting pint of beer and a decent nosebag to help the beer down.

Anybody who has visited the Pembury recently will know what a first-class hostelry they have been in.

Always worthy of its place in B.I.T.E.'s top forty.
Phucough - 21 Sep 2007 12:55
sounds like a toser wine bar wont go there if dragged by wild horses.
i like real pubs with proper men and loose women not somewhere that sounds like its full of sick gay yupie prats
bollockedagain - 21 Sep 2007 12:08
Still a favourite, even though the non smoking policy now has no effect. A pub with good beer, good food, free wifi and games has all you could possibly need.

In the earlier days (since the reopening on 6th January 2006) the pub seemed a little cold. Now it has a warmth brought in by the larger number of customers.

Cider is always on (now on a hand pump) and there are several excellent bottled beers (German, Belgian etc).
anonymous - 21 Sep 2007 09:58
Top class food and ale continues. Visited on Fri, 31/8/07; enjoyed the courgette/stilton soup followed by chicken jalfrezi. Freshly-on Nemesis, by the Hart brewery, was perfect as an accompanying beer, as well as on its own!
lad_newton - 1 Sep 2007 12:06
Paid 2nd visit there on 14the Aug. Loved it. Went back the following day! Rivalling Wenlock Arms as fave London boozer. A bit heavy on the Milton beers and a bit quiet, i have to say, but a top pub. I shall return.
ZapuTheSnake - 26 Aug 2007 08:15
Excellent Castle Rock beers on last night (Hemlock and Harvest Pale) to entertain the tastebuds. A curious party of ferret enthusiasts made for further entertainment during a pleasant, relaxing session in a pub that is becoming more "homely" each week.
lad_newton - 13 Aug 2007 13:21
Really great pub! Light and airy with a superb selection of real ales. Had such a good time at the beer festival that I can't even remember what I drank! Only minus point is that there's no garden.
mobygrape - 4 Aug 2007 17:16
Beer festival was superb. Those beers from Jarrow and Saltaire were especialy good. Typical of the Pembury to have truly excellent beer.
Nibbles were very pricey/small though....
dyyony - 2 Aug 2007 17:39
has to be one of the best and well run pubs in north london !
moclips2002 - 29 Jul 2007 20:37
Great to see the place so busy during the festival. All beers sampled were superb.
canastajim - 24 Jul 2007 11:57
Congratulating Steve and the team for superb festival - I think it was their best ever. Here's to many more.
lad_newton - 23 Jul 2007 10:41
Great festival started Wednsesday.

Full Milton range will be available between now and 22nd July plus guests from:

All Gates*
Black Country Ales
Fyne Ale
Northern Brewing

Brewers marked with a star: I have tasted them all and they were great.

Congratulations are due also on securing a late licence which it is believed will be used on Fri and Sat eves. Great news!

lad_newton - 19 Jul 2007 01:45
Very nice pub. Good food. They have some nice German beer in bottles (Augustiner Helles, Andechser Spezial, Schneider Weisse, Aventinus). Unfortunately, they quite often sell out of the Augustiner.

I don't agree with the place needing a different decor. It is great as it is.

They have board games as well, including Settlers of Catan, and they have WiFi.

They let you bring your bike inside and there is plenty of space for several bikes at a time.
mpromber - 11 Jul 2007 10:18
I agree with the reviewers who praise the Pembury Tavern. However, about four of the last ten reviewers have suggested that the decor could be improved, and I agree with them too. For example, some well-placed big plants and screens would break the space up.
clissold345 - 9 Jul 2007 22:36
I'm so glad I have a decent local! I think the selection of ales, the friendly staff and tasty homemade food makes for the beginnings of a great pub. However (landlord - please don't take offence) given that you have got the essentials right, I think you should now focus on creating an atmosphere - I really believe you will double your takings if you do. I'm afraid the place feels a little like a sixth form common room at the momnent - you've got a large amount of space to contend with so you need to think about how you can make it feel warmer. Just a suggestion, but I think you will encourage people to come far and wide if you do something about it.
anonymous - 2 Jul 2007 12:53
They're having another beer festival next month:
18-22 July
dpv - 22 Jun 2007 18:42
Be careful....the tourists have discovered this very nice pub. Stopped on the way in from Hertford and took the 200 m detour from Hackney Downs, absolutely worth the stop. Had a game of bar billards, a nice lunch for five pounds including 1/2 pint of beer. Eight beers, I tried the Milton Sparta,which was good and ended with the Carlow o Henlons Stout, which was fabulous. Very friendly staff as well. Only minus: I agree with kpflude from May 8th... please a little bit more decor !!
Pidley2547 - 21 May 2007 19:11
Popped-in for a quick pint (finally got off at the correct station this time too!) - yesterday evening. Enjoyed a lovely pint of Milton Dorich.
Point to note: Oversize glasses are in use, as noticed for the first time. Pub was fairly quiet but was still enjoyable. Any chance you can move closer to Wembley please?!
robhealy - 20 May 2007 12:26
Excellent pub - lots of beers from the Milton Brewery, Cambridgeshire, and a strong cider on tap. Studenty atmosphere with people tapping away on laptops on the large tables in the corners, and generally friendly ambience. They could do something to improve the decor - currently a little empty feeling.
kpflude - 8 May 2007 10:16
Top Pub.
Took a little journey from the City on Friday lunch time and was greeted by 8 Real ales (Mostly from the Milton Brewery).
All the four I tried were spot on and it was well worth the short train trip form Liverpool Street to Hackney Downs.
Any Pub that has a Bar Billiard Table is ok by me.
TheHorsesMouth - 30 Apr 2007 08:19
Went there for the first time on Easter Sunday. What a great pub with hospitable bar staff who let us sample a couple of the largely unfamiliar real ales out of the sixteen handpumps on display. The food also looked good and the chef who came to say hello appeared to be very accomplished even though we only had room for the potato and vegetable chips (which were delicious). We will return soon although it does mean us having to cross London to get there.
zeitlin - 11 Apr 2007 01:32
oops - realised I've mistaken ladnewton for the landlord. apologies
scissorkicks - 27 Mar 2007 22:19
ladnewton : do you have an e-mailing list for when there are festivals and other events coming up? I don't live in the area any more, but would definitely make the trip into town as the festival I came to last year was so good.
scissorkicks - 27 Mar 2007 22:18
This is fast becoming one of my favourite pubs in London, and even better it's just round the corner from my flat. Excellent range of beer, and it has to be one of the cheapest pubs in London for great house wine (2.10 for a glass of excellent cabernet sauvignon - you don't get that in Islington!). Food is also excellent, and I think great value for money. The staff are really friendly and welcoming too. My only (slight) criticism is that it can seem a bit bare when it's empty ... but that's the case less and less now.

dalstonite - 21 Mar 2007 16:22
I went to the beer festival yesterday lunchtime and really enjoyed it. All the beers were top notch - a good mix of strengths and varieties - and the barman was very pleasant and helpful. We didn't eat there but the food looked lovely. In fact I'm going back Saturday for some more beers and a snack. I still find the bar a bit stark and comfortless but feel like I'm a nit picking. Any real ale oasis in these parts is welcome and deserves praise. However, it would be great if the landlord went the extra mile and made the bar as welcoming as his bar staff. Curtains and cushions please!

chick - 15 Mar 2007 10:28
Festival began yesterday and promises to be their most successful to date. This is one not to be missed. Alongside a full range of Milton brews (including one or two specials) are all manner of nectareous ales from Jarrow, Nottingham, Castle Rock, Northern Brewing and numerous others.

The food menu remains in force - try the exquisite mushroom soup for starters and follow it with the delectable beef & Nero pie.

Steve has indicated they hope to host three festivals per year in future.

lad_newton - 15 Mar 2007 10:17
I believe this is under consideration, but curtains rather than hanging baskets would help impart that all-important indoor pub ambience. It's still a little too squeaky clean.
anonymous - 13 Mar 2007 19:33
HANGING BASKETS! Come Pembury let's have some signs of spring outside the pub.
danrkelly - 13 Mar 2007 11:26
Pem still as good as ever, one year on from its opening date. Staff seem keen-as-mustard on their beers - and food - and the pub has now a more homely feel. Minotuar and pegasus (both milton's) on 10/10 form.

And the ban on smoking has certainly Not stopped people going in as it was hard to find a seat last time. Staff and management here deserve a round of applause for what they have done with thePembury, long may it last!!!
jamie.nakin - 12 Mar 2007 22:25
Great range of draught ales on tonight - a mild plus two low gravity bitters and plenty of others. Titanic Stout was very fine. Bar staff really good. The Reading fans seemed to enjoy themselves.
ed.spbw - 3 Mar 2007 23:13
Welcoming Tom Beran back to the fold. Sorely missed since his departure from the Oakdale Arms, he has joined the catering team at the Pembury which (at no expense to Simon's second-to-none menu) is still exciting news. Rather than use the word "improvement" this represents a consolidation of excellence.
lad_newton - 18 Feb 2007 12:05
I went there last night for a birthday beer with some friends. Good beer range - the Marcus Aurelius was on top form although at 7.5% I was glad it was my final pint of the evening!

Keep up the good work.
Xian - 11 Feb 2007 11:57
In reply to Rich66: I've found the bar staff helpful on previous occasions when I've asked about the beers on offer. They will give you a small taster if you ask.
jaq - 9 Feb 2007 12:27
Excellent and nourishing beef & rauchbeer pie last night (07/02/07) washed down with one of the best pints of Jupiter I have tasted for some time. In response to some of the observations made earlier re the beer names; I have found all the staff very helpful if I specify what beer taste and abv. I am looking for - don't be shy, give it a try!!
lad_newton - 8 Feb 2007 19:03
Big old pub, feels like a bit of a warehouse when not busy but makes up for the slight lack of atmosphere with great beers and loads of games, books and newspapers available. Food looked (and smelt) good; not cheap, but value for money. I agree with criticism below, it'd be good if a little more info regarding the beers on tap was available/displayed near the bar - I know there are the occasional flyers up on walls around the pub, but it's a little confusing upon first entering to be confronted by all the unfamiliar (to me, heathen that I doubtless am) beer names. Beware the home-cooked pork scratchings though, they're...pungent.
treehavn - 1 Feb 2007 12:35
Has a very spacious feel with light and slightly spartan contemporary decor making it feel a bit "cold" during a quiet afternoon session. Excellent beers though. There were seven on handpump when I visited, mostly from the Milton Brewery, with several more handpumps unused.

One constructive criticism is that there could do with being a bit more imformation about the ales on offer. Many folk won't be familiar with Milton's beers and their names give no clue as to the style of beer. After taking pot luck and getting something pale and hoppy at 3.8% ABV (which I thoroughly enjoyed) I had to ask if there were any stouts or porters available; Nero being very nice at 5.0% ABV, concluding with a half or two of the lethal Mammon at over 7%.
Rich66 - 21 Jan 2007 18:21
The food in the Pembury isn't cheap, but it is excellent value. The imaginative Pembury grub is made from fresh, locally sourced (where possible) ingredients. If you want mass produced, processed run-of-the-mill pub food, there are plenty of other places around, but they are very often not much cheaper.
Ginger_Beard - 17 Jan 2007 11:20
anonymous: not sure whether you heard Ben right, or whether he was talking to you. I'm sure it was supposed to be a joke, though, whichever it was.

Steve (landlord)
sde1000 - 15 Jan 2007 13:01
Paid another visit to the wonderful Pembury last night. Overjoyed to see it busy. Slightly disappointed that so many of the taps were off - but there were still a good 5 or 6 ales on, which is at least 4 more than most half decent boozers in London have on at once. The Milton Sparta was most toothsome last night, I must say.

The one sour note of the evening was when one of my friends went to the bar, at the same time as a few people were arriving, the chap serving that area (big fella, not the long haired chap I assume is the landlord as his picture is on the front page of the website) said "It's not my pub any more!", or words to that effect. Not an especially welcoming attitude, I thought.

I can't let this spoil the overall impression though. The atmosphere last night really was excellent. Lots of different kinds of people, young and old.

A visit to the new branch of 19 Numara Bos Cirrik (at the other end of this part of Amhurst Road, next to Hackney Central), followed by a few pints in the Pembury is fast becoming one of my favourite nights out in London.
anonymous - 14 Jan 2007 22:29
This place is a breath of fresh air in the area. Went there last night and had three different ales - two Milton and one guest and they were all excellent. As said by other reviewers, the environment is a bit harsh and shool hallish - it could do with some selective use of 'softer' furnishings, lighting, etc. Ironically, the no-smoking policy makes it seem less 'pub like' but it'll be the norm after 1st July and I, a non-smoker, appreciated my jumper not stinking of fags when I got home.

The menu is good although most of the dishes appear overpriced but the ingredients are seemingly of good quality. That said, 4.50 for the various deserts is restaurant prices and this is a pub. Ditto 4.50 for Hummus and pitta bread and 7.50 for macaroni cheese and salad.

Still, overall it's a great addition to any area, let alone Hackney and I'll be back for more.
Mickyosan - 13 Jan 2007 18:47
Well done Steve and all the staff for running a successful NYE session.
lad_newton - 2 Jan 2007 11:57
When I last reviewed The Pembury back in September, I said it was on its way to becoming my local: that turned out to be correct. Now it is my local, and I love it. It gets gradually, incrementally, better and better: the beer continues to be excellent, the staff get nicer the more you get to know them, and they're still after that elusive late licence...
It's true it's a bit of an oddball of a place, but to me, that's all in its favour.
Also, I agree all that stripped-back bare wood and stuff might not be to everybody's taste, but really, it just needs to be lived in a bit. Give it time, no great pub ever happened overnight [not even The Wenlock!], they build up to it over a period: and that requires some commitment from the punters as well as the management.
The Pembury's already got a lot more atmosphere than when it started, [especially when it's a bit full, which sometimes it is nowadays], and its new life is still only measured in months. In spite of the bare wood, it's got a lot more atmosphere than most other pubs in the area, believe me. They've done amazingly well in such a short time, and it's still getting better.
Check it out on New years Eve: you'll need tickets, but they won't be too hard to get. [Go to their website for more info]. I'll be there.
M.O.G. - 23 Dec 2006 05:48
Interesting - the Pembury has made it into the top BITE pubs! I'm guessing people are rating it predominantly on the beer, rather than the ambience.

Some of you will find this hard to believe, but going to the pub is *more* than just about beer.

Perhaps people are giving the pub the benefit of the doubt as the beer is naturally excellent and the people behind the bar equally so. However I also see many comments saying more or less the same thing: unwelcoming doors, harsh lighting, not warm enough - like a school hall. Its better than when it opened, but more need to be done. And whether or not you like music in pub, going to the Pembury off-peak is like going to Church - you feel like you should whisper because of the deafening silence.

I know the manager looks at the comments here sometimes but not much seems to happen to remedy the problems. 'Chick' is right - if it were a nice pub to drink in I'd be there every week, but currently once a month is all I want.

Planner_21 - 22 Dec 2006 02:13
I too called in after the Pig's Ear Beerfest. I don't know if I had got used to the subdued lighting in the festival, but the Pembury seemed far too bright. The pale wood floors, harsh lighting and absence of curtains to muffle noise made you feel like you were in a school hall. That said, the barman (landlord?) was very pleasant and the beers were excellent. I'll try it again when I'm in the area. It's a shame that many pubs when refurbed follow the trend of stripping out carpets,curtains and any softening effects. Nice pub, but not one you feel like staying in for long, depite the good beers.
chick - 13 Dec 2006 11:11
After reading all the positive comments on BITE I eventually visited the Pembury yesterday after a visit to the Pigs Ear beer festival. After being spoiled by the vast range of dark beers at the festival I was delighted to be able to continue with the excellent Nero stout, moving up to the powerful Marcus Aurelius. Decided to do the sensible thing and downgrade to the Minotaur mild but unfortunately it was not on. This did however allow me to explore the Belgian bottle range as a palate cleanser before making my way home.

We arrived around half past four and it was remarkably quiet, especially with the festival nearby, but it picked up during the evening and there was quite a buzz going on by 7.30pm. Ill not repeat previous comments, suffice to say I was greatly impressed by the pub and its beers and will certainly plan further visits.

Rated 8/10 but that will rise to 9 if my next visit is as enjoyable.

Millay - 9 Dec 2006 13:02
Good on you Steve for rising to the occasion of the Pig's Ear festival and having an increased choice of beers to finish on. Last night was another of those "perfect" sessions, with the "high" of the festival being maintained throughout the evening here.
lad_newton - 7 Dec 2006 12:14
Incredible selection of ales, but the interior is far too bright and looks like a school. Its sister pub the oakdale is a better bet but harder to get too.
Lazmac - 30 Nov 2006 23:57
It's a very good pub. I don't think any of the reviewers have mentioned the lunch menu: a choice from about eight dishes plus half a pint of beer (or a soft drink) - all for the bargain price of 5.
clissold345 - 26 Nov 2006 23:58
Great place - up there with the other Individual Pubs Company pub I've been to, the Oakdale Arms. They've put a lot of effort into it, and it shows. I had a good introduction to it, a beer festival, with three ciders (that I tried) and various other goodies. I'm going to the Oakdale beer festival this weekend...
sheridan - 24 Nov 2006 16:35
Visited Saturday 18th Nov.What a great place.Had some delicious Milton ales,all very well kept,I particularly liked Colossus and Nero was a lovely lovely stout.Very relaxed atmosphere,no juke box,television,fruit machines and no smoking throughout which is very good news.Didn't try the food which looked good but had a belly full of beer anyway.I'll be back!
Miles007 - 20 Nov 2006 13:35
Excellent festival. Fantastic beers - the Milton Mammon and Marcus Aurelius were both fantastic, though at 7%/7.5% ABV I can't remember my journey home...

Can also report that the food is very, very good.

Great, great pub with first class management.
anonymous - 20 Nov 2006 00:04
Thanks to Steve, Tom, Simon and all the other staff for an excellent beer festival. The Milton Mammon tasted superb after being left a year to mature, went down well with the Stilton.

Just whet the appetite for the Pigs Ear Beer Festival round the corner at The Ocean in Mare Street E8, it runs from the 5th to the 9th of December. Can't wait...
Ginger_Beard - 18 Nov 2006 23:58
Me and a short Scots pal will be in attendance tomorrow. Expect lots of dark beers to be smashed relentlessly.
anonymous - 16 Nov 2006 20:19
I can't stop raving about this pub, and now their first beer festival has started, featuring a seriously good selection of beers (not even counting the extended Milton range). I was particularly fond of Milton's Gargantua (5.6%, extremely hoppy), and the aforementioned Old Ale was quite a fine one as well: smoky yet subtle.

dpv - 16 Nov 2006 17:34
This is a splendid festival, which has brought much-appreciated new business to the pub. Attended with a friend for the opening night, and supped some interesting brews. If it's still on when you go, try the Nottingham Dreadnought, which is wholly exquisite. Also go for the Hophead (not Dark Star!)and the Old Ale which IS Dark Star - if this makes sense.

In addition to the superb menu, which remains in force throughout the festival, filled rolls are available.

If you were hesitating to visit, here's confirming how good it is - go and see (well, drink) for yourselves - I'm certainly going again at the weekend!
lad_newton - 16 Nov 2006 14:59
Details of the forthcoming beer festival 15th-19th November will appear shortly in the "festivals" page of this site.
lad_newton - 12 Nov 2006 14:03
I would like to thank publicly everyone who contributed to my excellent birthday bash last night. Simon's spread was superb, and the Milton beers were top grade. The spaciousness of the pub made for a relaxed feel, and all this was augmented by the friendliness of Steve and Tom behind the bar.

Thanks to all of you who came last night and thanks for all the kind cards. Also let's not forget the church choir who arrived later on and sang HB in such a beautiful and harmonious rendition some of us were almost moved to tears.

The Pembury is now confirmed as an ideal place to hold such a celebration, and here's to many more.
lad_newton - 12 Nov 2006 13:39
Pembury Tavern has been voted London Pub of the Year by SPBW - a great accolade given the calibre of previous winners. A tribute to the excellent range of well kept ales plus friendly and efficient service. And it's a real pub with no tv or electronic devices.
ed.spbw - 4 Nov 2006 23:25
I can't believe my luck! This pub is 5 mins walk from my flat, and it could have been made just for me.

No smoking, no piped music, brilliant staff, great choice of drinks, good food and decent prices. Blimey, what else could you want?

I'm really pleased to see it's got busier over the last few months (although it means the poool table's a bit busier, too - can't get a game so easily now!).

I'm not much of a beer drinker, but I've tried a few halves and a couple of the continental bottled beers - all very good - and can recommend the 'house' sauvignon blanc and the cider.

My boyfriend absolutely loves the place, too, for the beer as well as all the other reasons above. Top marks also for the use of lined glasses (rather than brim measures). You always get a full pint at the Pembury.

My favourite pub in London. Long may it continue.
joey66 - 30 Oct 2006 23:55
Visited this pub last Friday - sat at the bar with a couple of old workmates. Beer was excellent & the Guvnor was very knowkedgable about his brews. Tried all of the Milton on offer. Excellent stout but Spartan was my favourite. It's a pity more people aren't aware of the pub as it was relatively quiet for a Friday night
kevh - 27 Oct 2006 22:00
danrkelly: you picked a slightly unfortunate night to visit - last Thursday a lot of our regulars (and me!) were over at Leyton Orient Supporters Club for their two-day beer festival.

The pork scratchings are indeed made on the premises by Simon the chef.

We're having our own beer festival next month - 15th-19th November. I hope to have about 30 real ales available.
sde1000 - 24 Oct 2006 18:08
I visited again between 5pm and 8pm on a Thursday night, very quiet but there were a few folks in by the time we left. Try the pork scratchings, appear to be homemade and they're very good. Ales excellent yet again. They just need to make the place look more inviting from the outside, I suggest a few colourful hanging baskets.
danrkelly - 20 Oct 2006 11:42
Further to my previous review, I went in early Friday evening and on Saturday night. Both food and drink were superb, my father and I both enjoyed the Nero very much!

Can also echo the comments made by other people, it does seem to be busier these days, we still had no trouble getting a table just that it was nice to see more people enjoying the pub!

Keep up the good work!
Jesus_drinks_Broadside - 16 Oct 2006 16:34
This pub is really finding its feat now and people are beginning to discover what a fine place this is. The best selection of draught ales for miles and a genuinely varied range as well. People behind the bar are friendly and efficient and the food's good.
ed.spbw - 12 Oct 2006 20:21
The Pembury is now showcasing 8" miniature abstract oil-on-canvas artworks by Mads Robinson, priced at 14 each. Also, note that parties are catered for here at great value.

Last night the chicken jalfrezi was great, and good to see more local people filling the pub such as John Challis.

In December the pub will be ideal as a finishing-pub after visiting the Pig's Ear festival.
lad_newton - 12 Oct 2006 13:15
How refreshing! Not just the well kept 8 real ales, but a bar uncluttered by multinational lager branded fonts. The beer comes from the excellent Milton Brewery, as well as Micros from around the country. On a recent visit virtually every beer style was available on tap, Dark Mild, Bitter, Wheat Beer, Golden Ale, Strong Bitter, Stout and Barley Wine. A large range of continental bottled beers and draught Budvar Budweiser are also available. Locally sourced home made food is also available, and is superb.
Ginger_Beard - 12 Oct 2006 11:56
It's been a few years since I was round this area. The last time I was this place was sitting empty and in a shocking state. It had been left empty for years.

Nice to see it re-open as a pub. Judging by the reviews though I don't think I'll be visiting. Doesn't sounds like my kind of place.
stoner - 10 Oct 2006 12:58
This place seems to have found its feet since my first visit back in June. Visiting on a Sunday afternoon for some Milton beers and bar billiards we found the place particularly busy with local families and others. Not exactly bustling, but certainly doing well enough it seems. The beers are first class - the Milton Nero stout is fantastic, and the bottled Belgian and German beers are well chosen and cheaper than anywhere else I have been to in London.

Very pleased to see that the reviews below were correct - the Pembury has clearly found a place in many folks' hearts and deservedly so.
anonymous - 9 Oct 2006 11:32
This pub is rapidly growing with increased momentum. There was a real buzz here last night during a lively session with three other friends, it was good to see several other groups enjoying the food and beer. All the more so for Steve considering it to be a "quiet" evening.

The ales here are consistently well-kept and on the best form possible, as they have been on every visit. The walls have been livened up with more posters, etc and the whole pub was ringing with conversation. The speed with which the Pembury Tavern has gained a foothold (a rather better phrase than "caught fire", in my opinion) has surpassed the expectations of all parties involved both sides of the bar! Excellent!
lad_newton - 5 Oct 2006 20:37
Went along for the chess night on Tuesday and was pleased to see the pub was pretty busy. The beers (and cider) are lovely and good value. On my estate (half a mile down the road) we have lost 3 pubs while I've lived there, so I'm really glad to see a pub like the Pembury appear. Just wish it was at the end of my street!
rach_1976 - 4 Oct 2006 21:27
Cracking ales and great food - I really enjoyed the place. Milton's Nero is worth the trip alone.

I have visited on a number of occasions and it always seems a little on the empty side, I hope for the owners (Milton) and the Landlords sake they are busy enough to keep going as it would be a shame to lose a quality pub like this one.
Jesus_drinks_Broadside - 2 Oct 2006 13:38
lighterthief: thanks for the kind words! We do intend to serve a wide variety of guest beers; this will get easier as we get busier. At the moment my problem is sometimes that people won't drink the guests when I put them on - they go for the Milton beer instead!
sde1000 - 28 Sep 2006 20:28
This place has really hit its stride now. Plenty people popping in and out, even during the week. Good beer served well, a range of decent boardgames behind the bar (chess, backgammon, scrabble etc), the food is delicious and fairly priced.

A real gem, and all credit to Steve and his team for making a real go of it. Only teeny criticism is that they seem to depend too much on Milton beers - ok as far as they go, but a bit more variety would be the icing on the cake.

Highly recommended.
lighterthief - 27 Sep 2006 21:49
We visited again on Saturday night and I am very pleased to say the place was full, every table taken. We had a very wonderful Ploughman's with Neal's Yard Dairy cheeses and some of the best chips I have had in years. Oh yeah, and the beer wasn't bad wither.
salamanda - 25 Sep 2006 12:31

Highly recommended.
A big surprise, and a nice one for once. After having been closed for years, I was sure The Pembury was destined to become another boring block of yuppie flats. I didnt think Id ever see it open again as a pub: but now here it is, and blow me down, its a very good one too.
The new management are nice people, with a lot of the right ideas on how to make a pub into an inviting place to go. The beer and the food are excellent, and not over-priced, the staff are welcoming, and THERE IS NO PIPED MUSIC!
There are all sorts of proper pub games: pool, bar-billiards[!], cards, a chess club, etc. etc. [no dart board yet] Although it has only been open for a few months, its beginning to build up and to get a bit of an atmosphere. Im starting to see familiar faces from other pubs in the area drifting in, and more to the point, coming back [including a number of refugees from the vile and hugely over-rated Prince George].
This place is the real thing, and on its way to becoming my local: Ill give it 8/10. When they get a piano, and the late licence theyre after, Ill give them the full 10: a distinction they will share only with The Wenlock.

M.O.G. - 22 Sep 2006 14:09
I was introduced to this place by my mate Rob. We go here because we can usually get a game of pool straight away. Great place to chat and play cards etc but my only criticism is that it is a little like a doctors waiting room at times, I would love to be here when the place is half full/ three quarters full rather than just 10 or 12 people max like the five or six times we've been there. i only drink the lager so can't tell you ale enthusiasts anything, but I would rather go here over my local, The Birdcage in Stokey as there is loads more to keep you entertained.

We had a roast dinner which was average, but I've had the pork pie with salad a couple of times and it is great, the big pickle you get with it is a bonus.

Staff friendly, really hope it all works out for this place.
anonymous - 19 Sep 2006 10:07
mtaylor40: you should come back - it's changed a lot in the last few months! The kitchen's open now, which attracts more people at mealtimes, and we're picking up more regulars. Chess club on Tuesday nights is getting quite busy!
sde1000 - 18 Sep 2006 17:59
Re: last post - I meant pub crawlers of course.
mtaylor40 - 14 Sep 2006 21:01
This pub seems to have as many reviews as any, shame it doesn't convert into continued business. I was the only customer on a midweek visit a few months back, though I agree it's excellent (similar comment could be made about the Oakdale in Haringey). I live a mile from Milton Brewery and outlets for their beers are limited, but I fear that there just aren't enough great pubs near these 2 to attract crawlers.
mtaylor40 - 14 Sep 2006 21:01
A lovely pub with wonderful food. I particularly liked the choice (no lasagne in sight) of vegetarian options. The range of beer is amazing, with a variety of bottled and hand pumpe beers. I really like the non smoking.
It is a pleasure to visit.

kateroberts1 - 7 Sep 2006 11:16
I agree with other reviewers that the food is good (reasonably priced, good quality ingredients, and well-presented). My comment is based on trying two dishes: ploughman's lunch and a nut burger.
clissold345 - 28 Aug 2006 01:20
Hmm... it certainly isn't your average London pub, and not in Hackney. But, the new food is big & scrumptious (even the veggie stuff!!), the selection of beer always keeps me entertained, and the atmosphere is relaxed - therefore great for catching up with my pals and actually being able to hear what they are saying. It is lovely to be able to sit and talk, rather than SHOUT (who says a decent pub has to be heaving with people?!!). I agree with 'London_Stroller'... 'tis an oasis, and I'm sure a good few more of my pennies will go towards its success.
humbug1000 - 25 Aug 2006 16:34
Visited the other day and was pleasantly suprised that, considering previous reviews, there was a reasonable crowd in. I was expecting to see tumbleweed blowing across the bar but although it wasn't heaving, there were a number of people eating, some playing pool and some other groups drinking/chatting.
A pleasant atmosphere to go with the great beer and good food, what more could you need.
woodgnome - 21 Aug 2006 08:44
Recently reopened and much changed. The pub has had a very chequered history. It was a thriving live music venue back in the 80's and early 90's, then it went through several changes of ownership, getting rougher every time, until it finally closed. I never thought I'd see it open again, but the new people have very bravely invested a lot of money and effort into making it the first gastro-pub in the area. I haven't tried the grub yet, [I intend to sometime soon] but I can say that the staff are friendly, the beer is good and not too dear, [likewise the wine] and there are games, including bar-billiards. It all seems a bit new and antiseptic at the moment, but no doubt it will acquire an atmosphere of its own as time goes on. Recommended
M.O.G. - 18 Aug 2006 14:31
Visited a couple of weeks ago on a Friday evening. Brilliant beer quality, good service, food menu looked appealing. In short, just about everything you could want, but...... I have never been in pub anywhere in London at 18h00 on a Friday evening and been one of 4 drinkers - three of whom were with me.
I hope this place gets the support it deserves, but when I saw 20 or locals relaxing nearby on the pavement drinking Red Stripe, alarm bells start ringing. The Pembury deserves success & hopefully it is not the right pub in the wrong area.
mally - 15 Aug 2006 23:29
I was there on Monday. The doors were open, so I could see inside. There were about six real ales, including Nethergate's Umbel Ale. The interior seemed a bit characterless to me; perhaps some big colourful pictures on the walls would help. Like other reviewers I want the pub to succeed.
clissold345 - 9 Aug 2006 00:29
This place impresses the hell out of me. It's a brave move to open a non-smoking pub with only real ale (and Budvar) on draft in the middle of Hackney. Its always spotless, and the food is really good. Best thing is the quality of the beer - first class. I really hope he succeeds with it, but it needs to be supported.
speccie27 - 27 Jul 2006 16:55
As a local I've been in the Pembury a few times now and have had a quiet, relaxing time with good beer. Perhaps the weekends are busier but when I've been in during the week there's only been a few of us most of the time. Although I like a ciggie I think non smoking is the way of the future so I'll go with that! Clearly, how the pub will pitch to locals is a tricky question. If there is an intention to be spotted by passers by then there is some work to be done in raising the pub's profile. It's quite possible not to spot that the pub is open when you walk past and the doors when closed are a bit off putting. So scores badly on this point.

Once inside it's a joy; an oasis in what can be a bit of a gritty and stressful area, though less so these days.
London_Stroller - 24 Jul 2006 23:57
Great comment, scissorkicks.

I too visited yesterday, albeit at dinnertime rather than lunchtime. We'd heard the kitchen had opened and this was our trip to test it out. I guess we're bad "restaurant reviewers" as we both had the same thing (tilapia with lime & coriander, on rice with salad). It was quite tasty and nicely done. There were perhaps a dozen or so punters around, but this still qualifies as "empty" in my book.

A large number of handpumps were indeed off, but that means "only" seven were in service (five from Milton including the always dependable Minotaur and Sparta). Given the sparse attendance at this stage it's probably wise to keep the range somewhat limited to ensure a good pint. They also had the fabulous Schlenkerla Rauchbier (in bottles) plus a variety of other German and Belgian beers.

I too would really like to see this place succeed. In my (admittedly ignorant) view more publicity might help. Word of mouth only gets so far (at least in the short term), and it is already quite a gamble to launch a place like this that doesn't offer any of your mass-market standards (the original Budweiser is available on draught, but none of your brewed-under-license this-or-that).
dpv - 24 Jul 2006 17:14
I desperately want the Pembury to succeed.

Paid a visit yesterday with my girlfriend and two other friends. When we arrived there were only three or four other people in the whole place.

Worryingly, a large number of the handpumps appeared to be off - although if it's always this quiet, then it's hardly fair to expect the landlord to stock a wide range all the time.

We ate lunch there, and it was excellent. My girlfriend and I both enjoyed the sausages with posh mash / gravy and red cabbage. One of my friends had Tillapia (it's a fish.. I wasn't sure when I saw the name) fillets and said it was excellent also. Had a couple of excellent pints too - "Wot's Appenin", and my old favourite, the Minotaur mild from the Milton Brewery.

So why is the Pembury so quiet? There are probably myriad reasons for it. The old Pembury, by the time of its closure, had a very bad reputation. I suppose this means you're on the back foot from the very start. But I honestly believe there are problems with the current configuration of the pub that need to be addressed (although I fully admit I'm not a licensee, and all of this is an attempt at constructive criticism from a layman).

As mentioned in reviews below, the doors are a big problem. They are large, dark, and have no windows in them. When they're closed, the pub looks *closed*. Combined with the windows being frosted on the bottom half, it makes it very difficult to actually see inside the place, and even be sure whether or not it's open.

As for the interior - yes, it's clean - even bordering on sterile. But it seems a little silly to criticise a pub for this. I think perhaps the modern decor combined with a minimalist redesign has resulted in a lot more space. This, combined with no music at all, means that when the pub is quiet, your every word reverberates around the place. I'm not sure how this would be best tackled. I worry that if the pub did become busy, it would run the danger of being unbearably loud and reverberant inside.

I'm not sure it's time to start radical changes regarding music, interior decor etc right now (although replacing the doors with windowed ones, and perhaps taking the frosting out of the windows would be a great help). I honestly think a good first step would be to get some decent signage up on the walls outside. Hell, maybe even do a quiz once a week! I know it sounds naff, but it's something I always make a mental note of when passing a pub, as it's something I like to do with friends sometimes.

But all this criticism should be tempered by my assertion that the one thing the Pembury does fantastically well is the beer - and after all, that's what we're here for isn't it? Now with the addition of excellent food, you really owe it to yourself to check it out if you can.
scissorkicks - 24 Jul 2006 10:18
I visited here on a Pub Crawl back in late Jan. They had an astonishing amt of real ale on tap plus a good selection of bottles as I recall. This was also my 1st exposure to the wonderful products of Milton Brewery. It was a very clean (almost painfully) pub that needs a wee bit of time to get some character...
Definitely worth checking out as it was nearly empty where our group was there...
surfadelic23 - 6 Jul 2006 18:27
Made the trip from Clerkenwell on the 55 last Saturday afternoon. The location is by no means as bad as some have made out. It is a bit out of the way, but well connected by public transport and easy to find. Almost totally empty when we arrived.

First thing - the doors really do need replacing - very off putting.

Milton Beers (which I hadn't tasted before) were certainly up to scratch. Particularly like the way they serve everything in lined glasses - no short pints here. The addition of food could really improve the place - frankly the bare and spartan interior would work better for a gastropub than a straight up boozer.

Bar billiards - genius. Used to play that in pubs at uni and hadn't played for years. Hadn't lost the old touch and beat my shortarse mate.

Landlord was a nice bloke - had a fairly candid chat with him. He seems to realise he has a bit of a tough sell with this place.

If you are a real ale fan - make the trip, give this place a chance, and hope they can keep developing it into a place worth making the trip to. It isn't there yet but I really hope they pull it off.
anonymous - 29 Jun 2006 15:51
Also, this pub is RECOMMENDED if you are looking for a quiet pint during the World Cup and fancy escaping from the football.

lad_newton - 29 Jun 2006 10:54
Visited last night with a friend. Pub now feels a little cosier with pump badges on the ceiling and a few more pictures on the walls.

Met the chef due to start the food service from 11/07/06. Received assurances that the menu will be affordable. This is the guy who cooked at the Kingston Arms in Cambridge a few years back, so it is all very exciting!

lad_newton - 29 Jun 2006 10:53
That food menu reads exquisitely. Wishing the establishment success in this venture. Cannot wait to sample the fine fare on offer - will do when I am back from my holiday in the middle of July!

lad_newton - 22 Jun 2006 18:11
News! Food will be available from 10th July.
sde1000 - 14 Jun 2006 20:38
Nice enough place, standard wood floor and tables combo. but it is distinctly lacking in some cosiness. We thought it felt like someone had put some tables in the village hall. mind you it wasnt very busy, it only had a few local old men in at the time
anonymous - 2 Jun 2006 15:25
No food avail - shame there's nowhere decent for eating round there. Could do with a bite to help the beers go down if you are trying out loads of beers from the "permanent festival". Any plans to introduce food?
andywalwyn - 31 May 2006 17:59
After reading good reviews, we decided to visit Hackney on Sat and spent a relaxing few hours there - OK, it wasn't too busy but the beer was on form - also nice to be somewhere without piped music and TV.

The suggestion of a few rolls/sandwiches until the kitchen is ready is good - our search for a nearby pie&mash shop was in vain.

We'll certainly be paying a return visit now that we know where you are.
eddierowles - 28 May 2006 14:02
Visited the pub on Tues 9th May, after reading an article in the London Drinker magazine.
Really nice pub, again quiet (although it was mid-afternoon...) Beer was really good.
One thing- I almost walked past thinking the pub was closed - those big wooden doors with no glass don't do it any justice. It would help if there were some glass panes - hopefully these are temporary doors?
Will definately pop back, although I live in Wembley and don't always go to Hackney!
robhealy - 10 May 2006 22:08
I'm a longtime resident of this area and this pub is a great new addition. First things first, the selection of beer is excellent. I've not ventured into the wines and spirits side of things so can't comment on those. The landlord is friendly and welcoming. I really like the fact that the pub is non-smoking, and also that it has a good selection of games including bar billiards and pool as well as board games. It also gets all the newspapers, so it's easy to spend time here ;)

There are a few things that would make it even better:
The ambience is a little sterile, especially when the pub is quiet. The range of bar snacks would be improved with simple stuff like bread and olives, biltong, and perhaps a cheese board or some sandwiches until the kitchen gets going. Any provision for bicycles would be most welcome, I agree with the other comments here about not wanting to leave anything on the railings outside and the fact that you can't see out the windows to keep an eye on your wheels.

All in all though a good boozer and I really hope it will do well and flourish in this area.
MalcolmPowder - 9 Apr 2006 15:49
Also with regard to the recent disussion on the cycle aspect, I would also feel more relaxed about my bicycle being off the street in the immediate location, but in present circumstances use the fairly adequate local public transport services to reach this establishment.

I will probably cycle to this hostelry through the summer months during which the lighter, busier evenings will offer some degree of protection to customers' cycles secured outside the premises.
lad_newton - 7 Apr 2006 01:56
It would be nice if drinks like freshly squeezed orange juice were commercially viable - unless Steve & the "crew" already have - shall have to pay another visit & see (not to drink orange juice though!!!)
lad_newton - 7 Apr 2006 01:42
I agree with with previous posts concerning bike friendly facilities. The safer I feel the bike is outside, the happier I'll be inside.
Some interesting non-alcoholic options would go down well too! Not sugar-laden processed liquids.
JELSILL - 28 Mar 2006 12:48
I agree that it'd be really nice if the Pembury could be made "bike friendly" as other recent comments have suggested. I'd go out of my way to drink somewhere that allows cycles inside (even if I'm not riding).

Are there many London pubs that are bike-friendly? The only one I know of is the Pembury's sister pub the Oakdale Arms.
dpv - 27 Mar 2006 12:49
My God! It has reopened as a pub! Is that an old picture? I remember the developers building a nasty nasty nasty lead flashed box on top as another flat and then having enforecemnt action slapped on them by the planners cos they didn't have permsiion for it! hence, I thought that nasty top floor had been got rid of...??

Again, another boozer in London that really could benefit from being friendly to the bike brigade. With no O/S space here, I'm unlikely to drop in when I'm on the bike cos I ain't leaving it on the railings, not on that junction! Pembury massive have them all away within seconds.

Let's hope the Pembury gets it together with the hackney cyclists, cos there's plenty of them and they all need somewhere to drink!
mikegray - 26 Mar 2006 18:07
Having had a couple of bikes stolen from outside pubs in London I now look for pubs which are 'bike friendly'. This pub would definately benefit from being able to bring bike inside. And maybe a jukebox.

othewise good ales and friendly staff
ALIMORGAN - 26 Mar 2006 17:27
Excellent ales, friendly staff and interesting to see a old pub reopen AND become flats. A very welcome addition to the Hackney pub scene.

SUGGESTION: We would like the owners to consider allocating an entrance (there are three I think) and wall to lean bikes against inside the pub as there is plent of room. Due to the obscuring plastic on the windows we are unable to monitor bikes locked outside the pub.
danrkelly - 26 Mar 2006 13:33
loopzilla: looking back at all the punter reviews, no-one has criticised the no-smoking policy; only the terse notice on the door was mentioned. It was an issue of presentation, not policy.

But I think you've fallen into the trap of believing good beer = good pub. Its only one aspect on which to base a successful pub. I stand by the ascertation that the pub had little ambience, whether or not it was formerly a burnt-out shell. As someone in the industry, hopefully my words of *constructive* advice might spur some ideas which might help the pub to still be trading in a years time.

anonymous - 19 Mar 2006 12:26
(Urgh, no HTML in reviews. You know what I mean!)
sde1000 - 12 Mar 2006 01:11
This is a great pub. The decision open "non smoking" is something I applaud personally. New legislation will mean that all pubs will non smoking, so why not start off with that policy in place.

The beers are great. The pub has a wireless network with open access (currently) and keeps its website up to date with a direct link from the cash till!

We have enjoyed everything, from well kept real ale through to real cider and bottled German and other European beers.

Ambience? Well, the pub was rebuilt from a burn out shell, and we assume permission was not granted for a music licence owing to the flats above.

Personally, I like good beer and smoke free atmosphere in which to enjoy it!

loopzilla - 11 Mar 2006 18:35
Welcome to the Pembury Tavern, at last a local pub I can feel safe entering and with real ale to boot. I agree that it needs more atmosphere and a slighter softer appearance with some plants inside and out, i would like music but I know plenty of people don't. I travel past this pub every day and only noticed it open 2 weeks ago and the bar manager said it had been open for 5 when I went in. On the whole I enjoyed it and will be back if only to keep the place open.
Sandyfoot - 23 Feb 2006 13:35
As a big fan of real ales and pubs in general i can only echo many of the comments here and wholeheartedly welcome the Pembury - especially when pubs are shutting every week.

However it must be said that its seems the owners have concentrated all on the beer and less on the 'pub'. Overall, the ambience/decoration leaves something to be desired (a problem with the Oakdale, too).

Firstly, its hard to know the place is open. The above-eye level window frosting makes it uninviting, as do the shut black doors with a rather terse 'no smoking' notice on it.

Secondly a no music policy is all well and good (if you're a fan of Wetherspoons pubs), but when you're establishing a clientele from zero, it can feel like walking into an empty and echoey assembly hall. When quite, the silence can be deafening and when theres people in, the poor acoustics make general chatter as annoying as any music could be.

The magnolia walls, wooden floors and furniture look clean and tidy but lack the soul of a true pub; it could almost be a sparce All Bar One. Its early days I know, but it needs personality (plants, colours, good lighting, for example). All easily remedied. Also, for such a large space, its too open. People like nooks, crannies and corners.

If this pub is to thrive it needs to do more than attract the travelling real-ale crowd and bring in the (nice) locals, too. Unlike the Oakdale theres no shortage of pubs nearby so they would do well to get some objective advice on how to - at little cost - improve ambience and bring in more local regular punters.

I wish them the best of luck either way.
tuppence - 23 Feb 2006 03:13
The grand opening party on Saturday was fantastic. I was most impressed by the Tring Pudding Porter, but all the beers I tried went down extremely well. Congratulations to Steve and all the staff.
salamanda - 21 Feb 2006 09:56
I too was there on Saturday, quite a good event and it would be nice to see the Pembury this full on a regular basis (it really adds to the ambience).

There are quite a few interesting games behind the bar, Settlers of Catan and Carcassone among them. The giant tables are quite good for games.
dpv - 20 Feb 2006 11:49
Great night on Saturday! I counted 14 beers on the pumps and the atmosphere was great... I'll be back again soon !!(why don't I live near a pub like this?!?):-(
anonymous - 20 Feb 2006 11:01
Congratulating Steve on the party last night! A veritable crowd thronging the Pembury - a phenomenon that must repeat. Spot-on beers (Harvest Pale and Uluru taken from a range well into double figures).

Readers should take little heed of the rather unfortunate commentary of 08/02/06. I have experienced no problems with the location; a view pretty well shared by all those involved in reopening the pub else it would still be standing vacant.

Useful info for those travelling by bus; Routes 254, 56 and 30 stop beside the pub offering alternatives to the somewhat limited rail services in the late evening.
lad_newton - 20 Feb 2006 01:16
I was in over the weekend and had a great time - wonderful to see the place filling up - I guess the word of good beer - served well by good staff gets around!
Nice to have a big pub with no music or smoking serving top quality beer in the area.

tjc - 13 Feb 2006 13:07
Splendid night in here last night. Good to see the place getting busy! Cracking range of beers too... Sparta was on top form (as usual!) I think we can definately say the Pembury Tavern is back on the map!
anonymous - 11 Feb 2006 10:23
I have to agree with Beermann. Paid my third visit last night and once again the place was deserted, just me and the barman. Great beer and love the no smoking rule but can it survive ? I wish them luck.
M.Sticker - 8 Feb 2006 10:39
I went last night. Good to see real cider available in another London pub. Very friendly, knowledgeable staff.
tharg - 28 Jan 2006 14:37
The Pem' will need a bouncer (given its location) to stop the pub being overrun by pikeys like last Thursday. Site readers - don't be put of coming here by last weeks events - they were a 1-off and the pub's great. Another thing, the no-smoking ban here should keep the right clientelle in the Pembury and the wrong ones out.
jamie.nakin - 26 Jan 2006 19:13
On Thursday evening we had a group of 200 travellers come in, sit down, and start drinking their own beer. (Bottles of American Bud, cans of Fosters, and so on.)

I called the police; it took them about an hour to clear the pub. It was completely trashed afterwards: the floor was a sea of beer, broken glass, bottle tops, little ripped-up bits of bottle labels...

It took me about ten hours to clean up on Friday, so the pub was late opening.

The same group visited just about every pub in Hackney that evening; most of them closed.
sde1000 - 22 Jan 2006 21:26
Was in here on Sunday 8th January (the weekend of opening). Lovely beer (can't remember which bitter it was) but a terribly empty pub. This is a brave enterprise but I wonder if a pub of this kind can survive in such a bleak location.

ps I passed by on Friday evening (20th January) and saw a notice on the door referring to cleaning up after the 'unexpected visitors' (or similar phrase) of the previous night. What happened?
beermann - 22 Jan 2006 17:05
I visited the pub for the first time last night. A very impressive bank of hand pumps. The Jack O'Legs by Tring was my pick of the evening. It seems perfectly suited to beer festivals and it would be wonderful to see it crammed full of people. My only very slight negative comment is that I would have chosen a darken colour for the walls. The light colour makes the place appear vast and a bit too bright.
salamanda - 11 Jan 2006 15:05
A huge pub with sixteen hand pumps. Part of the same chain as the oakdale arms. No smoking, which is good. Friendly staff. Very promising pub.
jamie.nakin - 11 Jan 2006 14:24
A fantastic range of real ales, and it is incredibly spacious. Absolutely empty when we visited, though, and it was disconcertingly quiet (sometimes music or telly can be a blessing).

It's only been open a few days, though, so my rating reflects the quality and range of drink, and promise for the future.
firehouse5 - 11 Jan 2006 11:16
Big festival-suited pub with a lot of promise.
DaveHarley - 10 Jan 2006 01:39
Welcoming BITE users to the Pembury, which opened last Friday to fill an enormous gap in East London's real ale map. It was a privilege to attend the opening night.

Clean, bright and spacious yet welcoming, the Pembury Arms will offer drinkers completely non-smoking environment in which to enjoy up to sixteen real ales.

The pub occupies a corner property and has a slightly L-shaped interior. Large rectangular tables are useful for groups of about 6-8 people.

A kitchen is on the way, and is scheduled to come into operation in the summer.

This pub deserves to succeed. Anyone visiting will see the effort and energy that has been expended in its renaissance, and it ought to be seen as a trailblazer for future pubs.

lad_newton - 8 Jan 2006 13:53

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