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Forest Hill Tavern, Forest Hill

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user reviews of the Forest Hill Tavern, Forest Hill

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

As this is a popular pub it is telling that nobody else has reviewed it.

That is beause the demographic that use this pub are the types who don't post on this site. The sort of demographic who will pay £4.50 for a pint of ale, £5 for pint of traditional cider (OMG this was always cheaper than beer in my youth) and £6 for the craft stuff, don't mind the architectural vandalism, and happy to breath in smoke as the outside fire pits aren't properly vented.

Which expains why I have only been there twice. But if this is your scene it is right for you.
baggydave - 8 Oct 2016 22:47
Judging by how busy this place has become since the refurb I am surprised that nobody has posted yet.

Transformed, renamed - the General Watson General Telegraph General or something like that

Marketing team have been in full force as it is packed, certainly at weekends, mainly 20 - 30 somethings. Not sure where they all come from (are you bused in or have you moved to the area?) considering it was so quiet before. Lost all sense of being a local and feels more of a continuation of Lordship Lane.

Decor has been blitzed, not all bad but the destruction of part of a fireplace surround to graft on a totally out of place fire hood should be classed as a crime, with a custodial sentence. The industrial theme is over the top amd makes other pubs that have done eclectic refurbs seem rather plain.

Beer range is good, bar staff on my one occasion attentive and friendly, the now becoming ubiquitous line of keg beers (aka craft ales) at up to sick squid a pint isn't to my taste (Emporer's new clothes).

I would have come back again but got fed of of waiting for people with mega rounds consisting of mixtures of shots. Made me feel very old, and whilst it brings the punters in the smooth funky jazzy music by the DJ aint to my taste.

One last comment, apart from fighting pubs is there reall any need for two bouncers on the door?
baggydave - 28 Apr 2016 11:58
Wow, all the advertising on this site is doing my head in. I'll scroll up so I can concentrate on a fair review.

Beer is generally pretty poorly kept, I've even decided to do something odd and order orange squash. On one occasion I was poured a flat pint, I jokingly comlained to be told off by one of the bar staff that it was the server's first day. Well that is an issue for you not me.

The attempt to mimic all the other pubs in the area and attract diners in never seems to work.

It was fine to watch the footy, but they have now stopped that as it apparently didn't bring the money in. I enjoyed watching the Chelski European semi against Barce in the Nou Camp as it was full of people generally interested in the sport rather than Johnny Come Lately's. So there was a niche here, but they didn't like it.

The Monday quiz seem decent and they try to get some interesting local music in as well.

I think 'should try harder' rather than 'failed' is the best summary.
baggydave - 11 Apr 2015 12:58
Surly staff. One knocked over my drink and despite promising to replace it failed to. The manager refused also. Won't be returning. Recommend people find somewhere with a better service and attitude.
tt_k - 19 Jun 2014 23:48
Have been going there for a couple of years, recently settled on it being our 'local' given the Sunday roasts were good, always room to sit, decent selection of drinks and a good beer garden out the back. Liked it there so much we booked the place for our daughter's small party of 40 people on a Sunday afternoon ... which evidently turned out to be a mistake.

Don't get mugged for the extra £75 for an extra bar member in the hope it'll make the staff and your guests lives easier. We were told by the manager that any drinks needed to be gotten from the main bar would then be fetched by this extra person. Not the case; guests ended up being pointed towards to main bar anyway. Oh, and we also ended up clearing our own tables of empty glasses, the bar member was busy texting.

Because most drinks were then bought at the main bar, one staff in particular decided to have a strop and backchat at least x3 of our guests seperately because they were being such a pain in ordering teas and coffees. Comments such as: "...what do you want, the coffee machine taken out the back?" etc. After we pointed out that the extra £75 we paid for a bar staff (£125 total, rather than the galling £50 charge for no extra staff) was doing little in our bar, another staff member chimed in with "oooh... it's only £125..."

Food quality was good, but given the party was from 1-5pm, we didn't get the single bowl of salad or humous on the table til 3:45pm. £380 was spent on food that half arrived towards the end of the party. The excuse from the rude staff member above was "oh well we've only got one oven" and with regards to the salad "you can take it home with you".

After being refused to speak to manager through the day "she's too busy", she eventually came down at 4:30pm where we highlighted the issues with the food but our main peeve was the attitude of most (not all) staff. The response? No accountability or actual apology; "I have said sorry (she hadn't) but I 100% back my staff, if they say they weren't rude or didn't say those things, then they didn't. My mum was at the bar (she wasn't)"

Galling, really. After that we tidied the rest of the room, cleared the rest of the empties, and left; feeling totally unwelcome throughout the day despite us and our guests contributing upwards of £700 to their takings.

The manager then emailed us later that night to apologise for the food and to a small margin of credit offered a 4 person dinner on the house. Yet there was no mention of any consideration towards the attitude of her or the majority of her staff. The offer was politely declined.
JimbobJoylove - 5 Mar 2014 01:43
This place has changed hands again and is now renamed the Rose. It portrays itself as Dulwich but it is clearly not in Dulwich, nearer Honor Oak Park & Forest Hill.

Visited on Saturday as a game was on the box. Pub mainly full of blokes but the atmosphere was pleasant.

2 beers on tap of which I had a pint of Otter, which was awful. It tasted of chesse! never a nice combination. I would normally complain but i actually couldn't be bothered so I suppose I have nothing to moan about.

Nice decor and the place looks like it's currently being stripped back to it's former glory.

I will visit again but I probably won't have the Otter.
lezford - 22 Oct 2012 13:46
Agree with baggydave. This pub changes hands a lot, but is always a total failure.

Only London Pride on offer and Wrongbow as the cider.

Always full of blokes that don't look like the friendliest of chaps.

I'd recommend avoiding.
Pat_Bateman - 17 Oct 2011 10:29
I've set them a challenge that they couldn't get any worse.
Well done, they have risen to it. After trashing the outside of a 'heritage' pub, they have now changed the name.
baggydave - 7 Sep 2011 23:41
I'm pleased to see the new owners have made a big difference to this pub. Maybe it may even return to it's heyday as it was in the "Thirties" when I lived there and my father was the licensee.
Seadancer - 8 Jun 2011 04:32
Visited this pub for the 1st time in 2 years. What a difference the new owners have made! Atmosphere is warm, friendly and welcoming. Sunday lunch was superb and great value for money. Staff and new owners are fantastic, just what this pub needed. This pub will become the best in the area if this standard of service continues.
Flemings - 22 Mar 2011 22:21
The Pub has now changed hands and has gone back to its roots as a traditional Pub. Live sport is back on the TV, and Live music or traditional disco on fridays and sat nights. The menu is now reasonably priced with most meals costing between 3 and 6. Sunday Lunches are now also served for 5. The Real Ales are excelent and are regularly changed. With 2 hand pubs athough this is being increased to 4. The Staff are friendly and helpful also.
PeteWilson - 22 Mar 2011 12:37
It's got even worse. That must have been a challenge. Funny that it was me who put it on in the first place.
baggydave - 5 Nov 2010 19:37
It's true, the pub itself is not bad, the food's alright, nothing too fussy but seemed decent, but when we were in there the locals were less than welcoming! Mostly young and middle aged men getting pissed up, meeting their mates with big dogs outside, etc. I too don't want a poncy pub but I think there are other pubs nearby that strike the balance a bit better. Doesn't help that the layout of the whole main bar area seems to revolve around being able to see the plasma. The garden was big and looked okay but a bit of a patio - needed more greenery.
superfibre - 3 Apr 2010 12:15
Went in for lunch on Sunday, can't complain about the food or service and the manager in particular seems a good guy. But I'm afraid that the clientele lets it down as it seemed choc-full of loud chavs and their families. I don't want pubs in Forest Hill to turn into the type of pretentious boozers around East Dulwich but the FHT seems stuck with lots of boorish, white-working class who spend an afternoon drinking strong lager, getting progressively more pissed and lairy and shouting and swearing at each other across the room.

It's sad because it could be a really nice place (and FH needs some nice pubs) but is let down by its current punters.
halfafarthing - 8 Dec 2009 13:40
3.50 for a pint of ale? It's 3 a pint so at least be factual. I have sampled the menu and it s excellent, underpriced if anything. The food is fresh daily and the atmosphere is fantastic. My only complaint is that it gets so busy in the summer. I will be down there again tonight after work to watch the Champions league game with their friendly staff.
theevent - 15 Apr 2009 12:33
Bitter not always available. The Spitfire tastes a bit keg like when it is on. Pricey (3.50/pint) and I tend to need a small loan to drink there more than two days running. Food prices are only for the rich. It's good stuff, but 6.50 for a burger in a bap with chips and a bit of salad is too rich for me.
JustCallMeH - 26 Mar 2009 17:45
I spoke to the manager who said the man that was shot had nothing to do with the pub. Must say that this could have happened anywhere nowadays.
Dosen't seem fair to me to blame it on the pub. As regards 1,000 times less likely to be shot down at the Herne, have you seen some of their customers lately? They seem to have inherited the old Forest Hill lot, and I don't mean the good ones.

I heard that the doormen looked after the victim and made sure he got to hospital where he was making a good recovery, they couldn't do more than that.

This is still one of the best places to watch sport. Have always felt safe and comfortable there since the refurb.
midnightpoolchampion - 7 Oct 2008 17:31
This pub seems to be getting a name for itself, for all the wrong reasons... A man was shot in the leg outside the pub last Friday. Other pubs in East Dulwich are available. Try the Herne down the road where you'll be a 1,000 times less likely to be shot.
jc22 - 17 Sep 2008 18:32
Its just a good allrounder. Does it have to be just one thing? Can't it appeal to different people?
Never claimed to be a gastro pub, just a pub that serves food, a nice place to watch sport, and a good Friday nigh music venue. I would have though it has the best of all worlds. I am one of the locals who still drinks here, if you stayed around, you would see that there are still some of us about.
midnightpoolchampion - 16 Mar 2008 22:28
I am really confused. Not a real ale pub as from my experience it is bad (eg IPA) and poorly served. Not really a local's pub, clientelle totally changed after the refurb, but then again when I first went there ten years ago you were careful not to look anyone in the eye (but had much improved in recent years). And losing the front door?

Tries to be a cool late night groove sort of place, but then wants to be a gastro pub, but at the same time big screens so a sports bar.

Before you young cool times, big screen footy fans or affluent gastro couples have a go, I was the one that put it on the BITE map!
baggydave - 16 Mar 2008 11:22
Went into FHT yeterday to watch match, again really good atmosphere, it seems to have found its feet.
New guy behind bar, with a lot of Irish charm, cant be bad.I bet the ladies will be pleased.
midnightpoolchampion - 30 Dec 2007 16:45
Great atmosphere in the FHT yesterday for the Football games. Its getting to be an in place to go to watch Football matches. Good staff, and nice vibe.
midnightpoolchampion - 17 Dec 2007 21:14
Have to agree with Trudy. Was a very good night. Just what the doctor ordered...
anonymous - 3 Nov 2007 21:03
Went in lats night and had a wicked night. They had a Dj who palyed some well good reggae beats. Had a good boogie on the dance floor with my friends. Will defo come here again,

Trudy x
anonymous - 3 Nov 2007 13:08
Went in on Saturday for the rugby and had an awesome time. Staff were brilliant and contrary to other postings, NOT eastern european (although nothing wrong even if they were). Had a really good mix. Had absolutely no trouble at all. Was going to go home after the game - what a game!- but had such a good atmosphere, I decided to stay on. A young member of staff cranked the music up and we had a great time. Can't wait till Saturday's game. Springboks, you are going down!
midnightpoolchampion - 16 Oct 2007 22:22
Take your pont baggydave. I am a Pride drinker too and I have not had a bad pint at the Forest Hill Tavern and I reckon 2.80 is a pretty normal London price. I am not being classist by the way; my defintion of a good pub is simply one with a friendly atmosphere, where the people who own it ie locals allow other people who may be different to them into their space.
william1 - 21 Sep 2007 00:15
Apologies for doing two similar posts, both primarily aimed at the damage that the refurb had done to the place.

William, see my first posting when I had got this place on the BITE website, and pehaps you would not have been giving your view yesterday. After avoiding it for years I thought that a few months ago it had got it right, a locals pub discouraging undesirables without bowing to the pressure to go the way the East Dulwich places had. Spoke to soon.

Anyway my posting is simple, 2.80 for undrinkable Pride. I thought that was reserved for the West End, where they have transient Eastern European staff and transient clientelle. Nowt wrong with Eastern European staff, I hasten to add, but surely someone must be there who actually knows how to keep beer right.
baggydave - 9 Sep 2007 23:37
This pub is now infinitely better. Before, it was inhabited by rude and unfriendly chainsmokers. Every other word was the f word; their Milwall and England flags were badges of ignorance and racism and they behaved towards incomers like the unfriendly villagers in a Hammer horror film. In short, it was a horrible, unfriendly, threatening and lung cancer inducing, wot you lookin' at environment. Now, it if friendly, the decor is pleasant, if a little bland (with art deco touches); there is a great decked eating out area; there is live music on Sundays and food other than crisps; the staff are friendly. It's a place you can go an quiety read a paper or a book without someone nicotine-stained moron staring at you. Congratulations to whoever had refurbished it and turned it into a normal community pub rather than a horrible dungeon.
william1 - 9 Sep 2007 10:59
Checked it out. The curved bay windows added to the insult of the revamp. Why are there architects out there that are so insensitive?

Inside now pretty generic, with generic, but drinkable beer. Will check out the jazz tomorrow and try and remain impartial.
baggydave - 8 Sep 2007 22:30
Ventured in here last Sunday and had a wonderful meal with my wife and son. We did have to wait a while for our food, but were more than happy when the food arrived. I hadn't been in to this place before the refurb, so can't comment on whether its better or worse. All I know is that we had a lovely, relaxing Sunday afternoon here and will do so again. I wish I were 28 again! I think the gray hair is a give away!!!
anonymous - 15 Jul 2007 14:19
Thanks to Eelio for the appropriate comments.

Personally I am confused. Why we need another Gastro pub (and it was pricy) when the Herne and Clockhouse just down the road? Why they actually did vandalism in 'modernising' what was a very characterful exterior and interior. How the local authority allowed them to bring in curved windows in the bays (it is not a deco building!). Removing the carpet would have been good enough for me! The table set our in doors creates a very sterile environment.

Where have the locals have gone? The clientele have changed from a wide mix, to a tight mix of white middle class and 22- 28.

There were more people there than before so clearly they are doing good business (although no one was eating last night).

Not rating it yet, need to give it another go. Black mark for Greene King, I hate IPA. The Adnams before was better, although served pretty poorly. Oh well I've grown to like Pride.

Any chance of any therapy, all advice welcome
baggydave - 14 Jul 2007 16:39
Went in recently, and after the refurbishment.

It's like going for a pint in an MFI Kitchen with Mr. Sheen as your drinking companion; everythings dark wood and each table and surface seems polished within an inch of its life. Even the games machine is chrome. I've got to be honest, it was a pretty soulless place.

We ordered food, too, and although the staff were friendly enough, our meals took an absolute age to arrive. We ordered dessert, too - an my rhubarb turned up served in a cup, with some custard in a seperate pot. Very odd and pretentious - and also not very nice.
eelio - 5 Jul 2007 12:16
Looks like the refurb will be complete in a few days. When I went past today the interior looked finished, and some final touches to the railings were being done.

One thing that looks promising is that the garden has had a total makeover - it was more or less wasted space previously.

Looks like it will be a gastropub, but I'll post a proper review once sampled.
Donnington - 19 May 2007 23:04
They have painted the lovely 1940s stonework black and lost the original (or original style) pub sign. Why oh why?). Still being refurbished when I last looked, lets see what else the future has in store.
baggydave - 7 May 2007 21:46
Closed for refurbishment. Oh dear, is this going to be yet another gastropub. Any information out there?
baggydave - 26 Apr 2007 20:19
After a long period of being without real ale, this place is now back on the map.
Substantial detached pub probably dating from around 1900. Eye-catching pale stone exterior with striking original Truman, Hanbury and Buxton signage (including the gold eagle) on the walls (especially round the side). Originally a three-bar pub, now sadly all knocked through into one. At least there is plenty of old wood panelling on the walls which retains much of the original character.
Three real ales available: London Pride, Youngs Ordinary and Adnams Bitter. The latter beer was in ridiculously good condition I give it 8 out of 10.

karloff - 6 Dec 2006 16:16
Spoke to soon guys, the landlord has now departed (or been made to depart). Will check it out and report back.
baggydave - 6 Dec 2006 14:41
bout time this pub was on this site. great staff. lovely landlord, always have a good night out here. congratulations to the landlord for turning this place around.
anonymous - 21 Nov 2006 10:55
Pleasantly surprised when I visited this pub last week as I found it a little threatening in the past. Very much locals but at the same time accommodating. None of your East Dulwich types you see down Lordship Lane despite the fact that the owners are now using the initials (FHT).

Reasonably ale on tap (Youngs and others) and prices. After my recent experience in the non-pub down the road (the Herne) and that the Clockhouse has gone down hill, a welcome change.

On the down side, one big room with no quiet places to sit. The ubiquitous large screens and would imagine that you could upset people.

But a wonderful eclectic mix of music, Ian Dury and ELO in one evening.
baggydave - 20 Nov 2006 13:16

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