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Capitol, Forest Hill

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user reviews of the Capitol, Forest Hill

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

A late Saturday night visit a few weeks back on my own.

Stayed for 2 pints and tucked into Windsor and Eton’s Guardsmen @ 4.2% which was on good form.

Still a standard ‘spoons overall but it does the job so there’s nothing for this reviewer to complain about…well not on this visit anyway.

lezford - 5 Dec 2016 13:41
A wonderful conversion of a cinema into a pub. The beer is poor and the food is frightful.
slerpy - 9 Feb 2016 20:58
Popped in for a couple of quick pints on the way home from a recent Dulwich Hamlet home game.

5.30pm on a Saturday evening and the pub was half full, lots of food being eaten by small groups and families.

Good choice of ales, I had been drinking Baird’s Rising Sun earlier in the Fox so I carried on with the same ale here and it was also on good form.

Still quiet busy when I left at 7.30pm.
lezford - 22 Jan 2016 10:36
This large Wetherspoons cinema conversion was my second pub of the day yesterday. It's a truly splendid building, similar to the Coronet in North London. There's a real sense of spaciousness in here. Seating is split over different levels and the bar occupies the old screen area. 10 ales and 1 cider were on - Ruddles Best, Greene King Abbot, Harviestoun Old Manor, Sharps Doom Bar, Morland Old Speckled Hen, Summerskills Westward Ho!, Southwark Harvard American Pale Ale, Oakham JHB, Shepherd Neame Bishop's Finger, Youngs Special & Gwynt y Ddraig Black Dragon. There was a mixture of customers in here, from people in for coffees and breakfasts to people like me who were starting the day early. Service was efficient. One of the better Wetherspoons I have been to.
blue_scrumpy - 8 Nov 2015 17:12
As Wetherspoons cinema conversions go, this is a winner. This cinema seems to have been more attractive than the average flea-pit. And in a city where a pint is often around £4, a good, unusual pint at £2 seemed a bit of a steal. Typical open-plan, zero-atmosphere, low-rent feel though.
Berboyblue - 6 Nov 2015 12:23
My latest visit was on a Tuesday night with a few pals for a couple of beers that turned into a longer heavier night than expected.

Steak night on a Tuesday at ‘spoons so the pub was busy with food orders but it didn’t take too long to get served at the bar, each of the 3 barmen were on good form and served the punters quickly.

A good choice of ales on this visit with my choice being a craft offering from Marston’s which was Canadian Red, every pint I had was extremely drinkable.
lezford - 16 Sep 2015 13:56
Popped in at 11pm on a Wednesday night and stayed until they closed.

Busy still at 11pm but this is a huge pub so it never feels packed, I was surprised however to still see people eating this late at night.

Good choice of ales across the taps, I went for Adnams The Herbalist @ 4.8% which is a new featured beer for ‘Spoons and a new beer for me from one of my favourite breweries.

As with the majority of ‘Spoons pubs the price is never a problem it’s just the service and clientele the pubs attract due to their cheap beer.

The Capitol is slight different as the staff are always quick and attentive and the clientele are not that bad, again being a big pub it’s easy to avoid any such nightmares!

Long live the Capitol.
lezford - 5 May 2015 13:48
A strong contender for the best 'spoons in South London,superb interior.
slerpy - 3 Nov 2014 14:15
Popped in for a pint from the International Beer Festival.

Almost all of the same crowd as always in here, a mix of drinkers and people having lunch.

Decent pint, good service and worth a pit stop.


lezford - 27 Oct 2014 13:46
Very sad, but this excellent pub will close soon and revert to being a cinema....
malkythealky - 26 Jun 2014 14:53
Very close to Forest Hill station which is served by local trains and London Overground. You can't call this place a pub instead it is a converted cinema. It's internal dimensions feel more along the lines of a cathedral, with similar acoustics to boot. Friendly bar staff, an excellent choice of revolving real ales including locally brewed ones. A good pub if you want to enjoy a pint in a quiet place away from the madding crowd, except on weekends.
Masterpint47 - 22 Jan 2014 23:40
I drink in many spoons pubs and find this the worse ,no staff on food is bad but the toilets are cleanish.
beerman44 - 20 Aug 2013 22:06
This is the 'spoons that I use the most but still only a couple of times a month.

Normally 3 different and changing ales on as well as the usual suspects.

I have eaten here a few times and the food is good, better than in a lot of other 'spoons.

Excellent conversion of the cinema that then became a bingo hall.

A thoroughly decent pub, Forest Hill has a couple of decent drinking holes but this might just be the best.
lezford - 24 Feb 2013 13:10
Strange place.
Many 'care in the community' types getting the odd pint in whilst out on escorted leave.
Shame really as the building is cool.
Mattyh34 - 15 Jun 2012 15:12
This is an old art deco cinema - and this is where Wetherspoons come into their own as it has been cleverly turned into a bar, while still looking like a cinema. Good range of cheap beers - plenty of space outside; a ghost, helpful staff - why wouldn't I like it?
spincat - 3 Jan 2012 15:32
First visited on a Monday eve. Lovely interior though a little bit echoey due to previously being a cinema. Maybe a bit of music at a reasonable level would be nice. Drinks very good and reasonably priced - beer and cider fest on. Served in order of arriving at the bar and not need to ask for drinks to be topped up. Toilets OK. Had the three pie deal which OK but nothing spectacular.

Surprisingly very good for a Wetherspoons. Will definitely come again.
Viki247 - 17 Oct 2011 19:49
Good conversation, good beer, good food at very reasonable prices. what more could you want?
Chaotically - 10 Feb 2011 12:15
Went in on a weekday lunchtime for a pint and a salad. Efficient service, clean tables in a fantastic building. Food and beer OK too.
wrichard - 11 Oct 2010 11:53
My second visit to this unusual Weterspoon's and just as impressed as the first time. The bar staff dealt with the Friday night crowds politely and efficiently and the beer was good too.
ace1973 - 31 Jul 2010 08:57
Like others have said before: I have fond memories of this pub and do still drink there. Not life changing, but I left school a year or two after the Capitol opened its doors to Forest Hill and it was common ground for former classmates to bump into each other and and get very pissed on just over a tenner.

In my opinion there are too many 'pub snobs' opining their disapproval of the Capitol. The simple fact is that Whetherspoons pubs are no fuss establishments where the punters are under false illusions as to their purpose. They're there to shift vast quantities of alcohol for less. It's a simple compromise. You sacrifice the ambience for cheaper drinks.

I've heard lots of people slag the place off but it's funny how most crawls around the watering holes of se23 finish at the Capitol.
bigbadwolf - 23 May 2010 00:21
This former cinema looks imposing enough from the street, but once inside the grand 1920s interior is really something to behold. Plenty of seating on two levels in the upper and lower stalls, but the bar looks slightly out of place because it is in front of the stage and below the natural eye level for such a building. Went at a quiet time so the atmosphere was rather cavernous with large spaces between each group of customers. Ten handpumps in two banks of five, one with the usual suspects and the other with some more interesting beers. These included two from Weltons of Horsham, both with the usual creative pump clip designs, and at 1.89 my pint of Moat Man (having a dig at the infamous MP Douglas Hogg) was good value.
rpadam - 27 Mar 2010 10:22
Due to being in the middle of a kitchen refit, I have eaten at The Capitol several times in the last couple of weeks as its cheaper than getting takeaways while I have no kitchen. Ive been very impressed with the consistently good customer service here, the bar staff notice who is to be served next and even stopped someone muscling in in front of me the other day. Nothing has been too much trouble and they are very polite and helpful. As to the ambience, the lack of music is perhaps more noticeable here as due to be an excinema the space is so vast, but it seems to attract a good mix of people.

If there were no visible indications that this was a Wetherpoons I think most people would be raving about this pub but theres definitely an innate snobbery about the chain. The pub is interesting architecturally, the service is good and the food and drinks are unbelievably cheap. A bit less advertising and unnecessary proliferation of menus would help improve it further.

wobblymoth - 11 Nov 2009 15:21
I am strangely fond of this place. Weatherspoons get a bad rap, but they do a variety of ales, and are good for a cheap (if not gourmet) dinner. Service is usually good, though I've not sampled it on a really busy night.
The atmosphere in the Capitol suffers from its sheer size. It's a shame this fine building is not a cinema, theatre or music venue, but failing that, JDW do seem to be looking after the place. In none of my other locals can you sip beer below a gilded cherub and an enormous picture of David Bowie. It has its share of scary people and lonely alcoholics, but the same can be said of many pubs around Forest Hill.
Not a destination for a night out, but OK for a pint and some grub with a couple of mates.
Jampot - 4 Nov 2009 16:49
Fond memories of this place from my school days, this being the only place nearby that would serve us. Cavernous pub, lacking in atmosphere , but nice for a quiet pint during the day. Not enough staff on in busy times and even when it's quiet the staff sit behind the bar so the many, many tables can be strewn with plates and glasses at any time of day. Despite this, still the cheapest pint in the area and next to the station so I do find myself in here quite a lot.
edd.h - 13 Sep 2009 20:59
Very Grim. Like drinking in a Warehouse with a few tables, populated by People sitting by themselves staring into Space.

Service leaves a lot to be desired

Stay for only one


HENDO - 6 Mar 2009 10:31
This place was never meant to be a pub. The staff look troubled, something to do with the acoustics maybe.
igocollege - 10 Feb 2009 21:45
From the Wetherspoon site: "A rare survival of a 1920s cinema, The Capitol, on London Road, first opened its doors to the cinema-going public in 1929, with a screening of Man, Woman and Sin. Renamed the ABC in 1968, the cinema gave its last picture show in October 1973. There were plans to convert and even demolish the building. However, The Capitol opened as a bingo hall in February 1978, closing in the first week of December 1996. It opened as a Wetherspoon pub on 9 May 2001."
SilkTork - 9 Oct 2008 20:22
Interesting and attractive Wetherspoons conversion of a 1930s cinema. The space suffers slightly from its size - there's an empty echoing atmosphere - but is mainly comfortable and well lit. I've been in here several times over the years, and generally found the service reasonably quick and pleasant, though the meal portions are smaller than standard, and the beer range can be a bit limited, and sometimes the cask pump clips have been wrong.

However, I feel this is a slightly above average JDW due to the attractive building, and the usually clean tables and decent service.
SilkTork - 9 Oct 2008 20:14
Please be warned...There are much, much better places to buy a cheap pint in Forest Hill

I have been into the Capital on a few occasion and the best thing about it is the outdoor seating area. The atmosphere and level of behaviour here is dismal.
The building is quite nice and I do really wish they could bring up the standards of the place.

The staff have usually been alright, nothing great which I have to say is a real issue considering some of the great service you get in other FH pubs.

I general the food was probably a step below what you make at home. The ingredients and presentation are just abysmal. I would have to recommend that the only time you should go near The Capitol is to use the bus stop out front.

The only saving grace to this pub is that it does have a big garden area. Its not particularly nice, but it is available and you can use it. Actually you'll probably feel safer in the garden with no one about then you will inside with some of the people in there.

Also one last note, serving cheap booze and bad food is no way treat "families". This is not a "family" pub, its a bad pub that reinforces poor behaviour in children!
Piercec - 28 Mar 2008 17:03
Lively ! I like the cinema lay-out a lot as well. Courage OK, very friendly staff.
mtaylor40 - 13 Feb 2008 20:50
went in this pub monday night at 6pm ..8 or 9 people waiting to be served and only 1 person behind the bar
there must have been at least 65 people in the pub
i waited for 10 mins still not served so went somewere else..how can a pub this size have 1 person behind the bar ?...
anonymous - 9 Jan 2007 09:05
Went a few times but haven't been back since I witnessed one fight too many. Shame cos it has a not too bad feel to it. Think it concentrates too much on the sports crowds which tend to end up drunk and brawling.
anonymous - 25 Nov 2006 02:06
Visited this bar 2 weeks ago for the first time. It'll be my last. Quite possibly the worst bar I've ever been to. Bit chavy. Went there Sunday week ago at the tale end of a footy match which ended up in the rival supporters chanting songs at each other then if that wasn't bad enough the pub quiz started a few hours later. Food was cold, service dreadful and the floor staff were non-existent. Dirty ashtray, plates etc sat for hours before being cleaned.
WonnacottP - 18 Nov 2006 22:15
There is good and bad about this unique pub.

For one thing, Forest Hill was pretty much a real ale desert before this place opened. Wetherspoon's have done a magnificent job of restoring this 1920 cinema to its former glory. Anyone with any interest in the history of Forest Hill should be pleased to see that this place hasn't been demolished and a block of flats built in its place.

It's so big that it doesn't have a typically pub-like atmosphere but there are a few cosy little corners if you seek them out.

Beer quality is variable but generally pretty good. Service is often slow.

By the way, anyone who complains about 'smokey old men' (see below) should be banned from going into pubs. People who make comments like that are part of the reason why the traditional British pub is disappearing so fast. Let's have more smokey old men and resist this move towards the squeaky-clean gastro-pub!
karloff - 9 Oct 2006 17:40
...LOL.I was thinking about one of the worst pubs I have been too and thought of this one, but it seem's I won't be the first to slate it. To put it simply, it is DREADFUL! Full of smokey old men and chavs, just disgusting, I would not recommend this to ANYONE! There are much nice Wetherspoons about, why oh why do they keep it so awful?? It could really be made into a nice place. It could start by making it NO SMOKING, that would clear out the awful element in one fell swoop! The nicest Wetherspoons seem to be the non-smoking ones...J D Wetherspoon PLC, take note! I think they intend to make all their pubs non-smoking, why don't they do it immediately!
kiwimaj - 26 Sep 2006 12:18
I agree with StuPC.

I like the interior and being a Weatherspoons has cheap beer (which in London is a rareity).

I went in to watch footy on a Wednesday night and apart from a couple of Chav's it was ok. Pleasant enough. Wouldn't fancy heading in on a Friday or Saturday night though.
lukemarson - 21 Sep 2006 09:52
No atmosphere. Old blokes nursing the same pint of Spitfire for upwards of six hours. Beige food. All in a huge, echoing room.

Rubbish.
eelio - 16 May 2006 11:29
There's nothing actually *wrong* with this enormous cavern of a pub, and the interior is genuinely quite a sight to behold (it used to be a cinema); but there's not really anything particularly *right* with the place either.

If you're just after a quick, cheap pint and a seat then during the day I'd recommend The Capital, but at night there are nicer and more welcoming places.
StuPC - 15 Mar 2006 09:35
everything you expect from your local wetherspoons, young people that are living off the state and mefs. AWFUL.
smokie_tearz - 29 Jan 2006 17:17
too big and never full enough to create an atmosphere. Would be better suited if it was returned to a theatre..... or perhaps have some form of entertainment. poor 3/10
carteraa - 18 Jan 2006 11:56
No chance of getting a beer belly here as the walk to the bar will burn off all of the calories you gain from drinking the flat beer you are served.


anonymous - 30 Dec 2005 19:26
Eric B and Rakim have it,.........this place doesn't,.........bland

steveo500 - 11 Nov 2005 10:59
Cavernous building but seems a bit smarter than the average Wetherspoon's. I generally only pop in during the occasional midweek afternoon when it's fairly quiet, so the common Wetherspoon failings of slow service and cluttered tables due to lack of staff numbers aren't in evidence.

Beer quality here is pretty reliable in my experience with the usual 4 or 5 house ales plus up to five guests - 1.69 for a pint of Goff's White Knight was particularly good value today.
Rich66 - 25 Aug 2005 21:46
when i herd that this place was going to be turned into a pub i thought surely not but yes on my return to london i went in and a building that is full of history as it was the first picture house in the uk to show moving film ( a movie )

the tables can often get messed up and be clutterd but not like the brockley barge in this pub the managers clean the floor as well as staff

there is always a good choice of beer and food
the staff are very friendly and deal with complaints very well

i really don't have much to complain about the pub i have made friends there and the manager ripon is always trying to get people in a good mood esp when there is football on everyone could be quiet and yet you see the manager start a cheer and the place goes up

i think this pub can only get better and compaired to weatherspoons in the area this is the best keep it up guys
anonymous - 12 May 2005 13:42
looks intruging from the outside, being an old cinema, lovely inside to look at, but agree with a previous comment, the atmosphere is zilch.
pachabelle82 - 29 Apr 2005 13:34
Just read the message asking if the wetherspoons is gonna be turned into a club, is this true?? Forest Hill could do with some livening up!
ClaireD - 26 Nov 2004 11:07
everyone? is it true its gonna be tuenrd into a club???
Jose - 20 May 2004 13:10
Poor bar service, tables not cleaned, but has improved slightly in recent months.
Excellent toilets.
Now has TV coverage of popular sporting events.
valis4 - 10 Mar 2004 16:36
This pub reminds me of Bullins at Bognor Regis whilst watching Maxy Hairdo on the piano. Anyone agree?
Maureen Hooper - 8 Jan 2004 14:15
God awful wetherspoons. Dirty tables, no atmosphere, even with the sport on the tvs. Its like drinking at an airport.
tomario - 16 Nov 2003 15:22
Excellent real ales and food
Brian Pentecost - 1 Jul 2003 09:07

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