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Old Dispensary, Whitechapel

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user reviews of the Old Dispensary, Whitechapel

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

GBG 2019 Tick. Former hospital but you wouldn't know it - feels like a townhouse converted into a pub.

Long bar - a main room set with wooden tables in a row and an alcove on the way to the gents with more comfy chairs.

Greeted on entry by very friendly staff.

Oakham JHB was very wrong and had to be sent back but was swapped immediately for a better pint that I failed to record.

Visit blogged at

Mappiman - 2 Nov 2018 16:19
The beer at the Old Dispensary is great, the food is good although not cheap and the staff are always helpful. The landlady is lovely. The place looks good and it's clean. Yes there are lots of suited blokes in there during the week but they don't bite and they don't smell. A great pub, I recommend it.
MarkieB - 6 Oct 2015 21:53
I do not visit this place that often because I have got it in my head that is more of a dining room than a pub. Having spoken to the landlady, she says that dining is more of a feature at lunchtime.

She certainly takes the beer side seriously, as the pub always has a broad selection and takes care not to offer anything that is on offer in any of the other local pubs. She almost had a fit when I told her the Oliver Conquest down the road had Harvey's on tap, but the OC offers Sussex Best while the Dispensary offers Harvey's IPA.

It probably is a bit full of "suits" in the early evening. I shall take care change into casual wear in future before popping into this pub after work; that will make me a completely different person... :)
Fiendishgames - 2 Oct 2013 11:14
Have worked in the area for the last 2 and a half years but have only visited this place twice...why I don't know.

As previously said its a lovely old building that has been converted into a very nice bar and restaurant. On both f the occasions I have visited the beer selection was good.

Not sure why but I am struggling to get excited about this place even as I write this...there are pubs with a better atmosphere locally.
lezford - 11 Nov 2012 21:28
Quite an imposing building but not as large inside as I expected. A bit of a Tardis in reverse! The staff were very pleasant and friendly. The landlady let us have the best part of a pint for free after the barrel went whilst pouring.
Unfortunately out of the 5 pumps only 2 were working. The Florence Nightingale was very drinkable.
Judging from the noticeboard the pub offers very good meals and the sight of a group of office types tucking into sizeable portions confirmed this opinion.
Strange decor, the place has a slightly shabby lived in feel yet it was once quite a smart building.
Would like to return when more ales are available.
Certainly one of the friendliest pubs in London!

outtamehead - 20 Apr 2012 05:09
This highlights, Beer in the Evening's main drawback as a site - that a cracking selection of ales will provoke punters into covering for a multitude of sins. My friends and I have now organised 13 annual Brick Lane curry nights each Easter and this venue is comfortably the least impressive pre-meal venue we have chosen in the vicinity of Banglatown. Of course Aldgate East is a non-place seemingly there to please lovers of complicated traffic systems and nor can the owners be blamed for the presence of White's Gentleman's Club over the road but Harvey's Sussex bitter does not save a place from being a city boy's haven pure and simple.
BoehmBawerk - 8 Apr 2012 09:03
This pub has plenty going for it and is worth going to if you're in the area. If you like traditional 'lived in' local's pubs you may be put off. It's very smart looking and business like with a definate 80's bar/bistro feel. But don't panic! There are between two and four ales on; in the past I've had Nethergate, Dark Star, Itchen and Sharps which were generally well kept. There is food (looks ok) and free nibbles for drinkers (weekends only maybe?).

A quick word about the staff. The girls behind the bar are very friendly and actually smile! Staying positive while dealing with the public is hard and the manager of this pub should be proud of them.
Green_0nions - 15 May 2011 12:05
I have had cause to visit London a few times over the last year and this has ended up being my local. The staff are fantastic, friendly and welcomming. The beer is great, constantly changing and they offer their own branded beer (a good pint). last but by no means least is the food it is superb, fresh produce, well cooked and always of the same high standard.
If you find yourself in London hop on the tube to Aldgate East and wander down to this pub you won't be dissapointed.
rikbowles - 28 Feb 2011 10:22
lovely building/setting, excellent ales, but rather put off by that irritating habit many pubs have of gradually turning up the music in increments as if it induces some better atmosphere when actually it just has the opposite effect, i drunk up and left... Wasnt that busy even for a friday which is quite telling.
moclips2002 - 16 Jan 2011 10:44
I was really surprised to see some of the negative comments on here as I have always found the staff including the landlady to be really refreshingly friendly as well as efficient. The person who was disappointed when it was closed for a "private party" presumably was making their first visit, or else he would have seen the Oktoberfest extensively advertised in the pub, as far back as August! (It was on their website too) These things happen though and i have been disappointed myself on occasion when i have sought out a new pub to find it closed but I have simply wandered off to find another pub in the vicinity. In the Aldgate area, we are quite well endowed, as well as having some other great pubs to choose, locally!
By the way, I also think the "suits" reference is quite unfortunate, I am a scruffy and unsuited person but some of my very good friends wear suits and are very nice peoples!
mikebike - 23 Oct 2010 15:20
Another reviewer mentioned that The Dispensary was closed for a private party last Thursday. In fact it wasn’t private, but a ticket only Oktoberfest. It was so good last year they had to limit tickets and it was sold out.
What a fantastic night it was, the character of the building lends itself to the conversion into a Austrian beer Keller. David and Annie go all out to make the night authentic, something like 6 or 7 German beers on tap and each customer gets a beers stein to keep. The food was of course bratwurst, Vienna Schnitzel and the like. Lots of extra staff in German dress on hand to make sure the beer kept flowing. A genuine oopah band and a Caberet style singer.
Our group of about 18 had a really fantastic night, we will certainly be booking for next time as soon as tickets are made available.

john_bite - 18 Oct 2010 11:39
I popped in last night for my first visit and was told it was closed for a private function. I will not be back.
Huey - 15 Oct 2010 09:53
This place is good for me but only after the suits have left in the evenings. It sees itself a food pub but never eaten there so couldn't comment. The chef seems a nice chap and is missus (the landlady) is friendly chatty type. Beer is a strong point, not cheap but good quality. Closed a weekends which is a shame. They like dogs in here so it often feels like you're out of London when you've had a few.
randompubgoer - 26 Sep 2010 20:21
Shame about this pub. Great area, we found the food very nice, setting/decor also quite enjoyable. However I certainly will not be visiting and advise against anybody else doing so either due to the pure unadulterated rudeness of the land"lady"/manager. The staff are overworked and the manager pretends to busy herself with clipboards, and when we give our polite comments that the service was a little stretched (drink orders incorrect when they finally arrived and only 3 of 4 meals we ordered were actually cooked), the manager who "does not believe the customer is always right" became verbally abusive.

Great shame. Avoid at all costs as any business that treats their customers this way is not one to visit again, unless you're in to that kind of thing.
honest_pubber - 31 Aug 2010 14:14
Very well kept place. All the people I was with - real ale drinkers - really liked it despite it's modern interior. However it was a bit too cavernous for my tastes with the high ceiling creating that din of chatter. Not a cosy feel. Free plates of sophisticated snacks were brought round which was very impressive, on a Friday night too.
BobC65 - 31 Aug 2010 12:21
Nice pub. With a Good Beer Guide recommendation, was expecting a good range of ales, but of the five pumps, two were off. That said, the Hophead was in excellent condition.
benz104 - 30 Aug 2010 16:19
A good pub in many respects but ruined by poor management. Nice surroundings, a good choice of ales and excellent food. However the attitude emanating from the overbearing owner was breathtaking. Whilst enjoying our main course we noticed our drinks were running low. The owner flitted amongst tables seemingly oblivious to our empty glasses, too busy staring at her clipboard to answer the numerous calls for service. Perhaps she felt collecting the empties or asking for orders was beneath her. Upon questioning this attitude we were met with the classic line 'I don't think the customer is always right'. Carry on like that dear and you won't have any customers. Shame, as the actual building and setting is great.
Calthrop - 27 Aug 2010 15:29
This was the first pub on our crawl yesterday. What an excellent start it was. The staff were extremely welcoming, efficient and knowledgeable. Beer choice was good. We were particularly impressed to see Cheddar Valley cider. The very tasty chicken and chorizo pies we ordered set us up nicely for the day ahead. ALL in all I'd recommend a visit. It has to be a top contender for the Whitechapel pub of any Monopoly crawl.
PJH20 - 2 Jun 2010 23:17
Called "The Dispensary" - no "old".

5 pumps- today they had Itchen Valley Pure Gold, Harveys Sussex and Ascot Posh Pooch. Several dark Star beers and Crouch Vale shown as coming soon. £3.30 a pint. Also Thatchers Cheddar Cider and some foreign beers,

A nice pub - background music was far too much in the forecround for my taste.

Certainly worth a visit.
cheshirecat - 2 Jun 2010 22:02
This had to be just about my pub of the day on my crawl yesterday. The beer range was impressive - Slaters Premium, Darkstar Original, Harveys Sussex Best and Crouch Vale Brewer's Gold. On enquiring about ciders, the barmaid revealed they were trialling Thatchers Cheddar Valley from a polycask at the end of the bar. Good on them. There is a good mix of people here, with some locals and some City folk. The entrance floor and side room floor are tiled. Polished floorboards are found elsewhere. The ceilings and windows are high and there is a dining area on the mezzanine level. The whole feel is of a light, airy restaurant/wine bar. But the drinks range suggests otherwise. I'm sure I'll be returning here soon, and I sincerely hope they retain a real cider.
blue_scrumpy - 22 May 2010 14:38
It had a good ale selection, and had been voted CAMRA local pub of the year. But in all honesty I found it to be a rather pretentious pub which would probably far rather be a wine bar.

7/10 for the ales.

MankyBadger - 25 Feb 2010 23:12
Can see this place becoming a favourite with me! On second visit was struck by what an impressive building this was. Service was excellent again, hung around long enough to get two complimentary plates of entrees ,which were very welcome. Still only 2 hand pumps on this visit, however one of which was the wonderful Hop Head.
BlindTiger - 5 Oct 2009 13:27
Was very impressed with this place on first visit, an excellent addition to the area's pubs. Immaculate interior, welcoming staff-only minus mark was only 2 hand pumps on when I visited, both Nethergate. The one I had was admittedly superb, will definitely return.
BlindTiger - 14 Sep 2009 15:17
Don't go there on Saturday or Sunday, when this pub is closed!
loopzilla - 20 Apr 2009 09:07
Well done Annie - East london & city pub of the year 2009 a well deserved award keep it up.
Chunkyetti - 16 Apr 2009 11:17
Art deco pub so either you like it or not instantly. Personally it lacks pub soul and feels more like a restaurant/hotel.

Moder, bright with top food. Good service. Not really a place to stand, so get there early and grab a table.
pc09 - 5 Mar 2009 15:03
Popped in on the strength of its Good Beer Guide entry and was pleased I did.

It's a big old building inside and manages to retain an element of its Victorian heritage despite being filled with accountants eating posh nosh and drinking wine.

The beers were in very good shape with 3 available on my visit - my Dark Star Hophead was delicious.

Although it hasn't been open in its current guise for long, the décor is wearing a bit inside, needs a lick of paint around some of the edges.

Worth seeking out if in the area, good for a slow afternoon beer.
Quinno - 9 Feb 2009 18:51
Great real ales in a lovely multi-roomed historic old building, with a very friendly and efficient bar-staff. Good food too. Shame it's Monday to Friday only but the area is too quiet at the moment to support weekend opening. I'm a big fan!
mickowapping - 4 Sep 2008 14:45
Really enjoyed my visits here. Great food, lovely staff, welcome & warm atmosphere. Definitley worth a visit!
mysteriouspubgirl - 27 Aug 2008 15:27
A good pub with friendly staff and well kept Real Ales- worth visiting
Chunkyetti - 30 Nov 2007 14:08
Since reopening this pub has greatly improved. The beers are all well looked after, and as well as regular Deuchars IPA, there are usually 2 or 3 guests on too, from breweries such as Everards and Dark Star. On the food side quality is also the watchword - their real homemade chips are delicious.
Ginger_Beard - 15 Sep 2007 13:40
Has now re-opened
tenner - 28 Jan 2007 20:48
This place shut down at the end of last year. It had been going downhill for some time - warm flat Adnams, more often than not with a very acid bite. Yuk. I don't know what the plans are for it. With luck it will be refurb'd and reopen to compete with the nearby White Swan and The Castle, both fine establishments in their own right. Interesting to see reference to "smart" office workers, below! Most are (were) - like me - employees of a Caledonian bank... so things have changed in the last two years!! I would like to have seen those cellars, though!
andrex - 19 Jan 2006 16:20
Not sure what is going on here. The pub had been quite good recently and fairly busy but the last couple of times has been getting emptier. We went there the other evening and all the beers tasted like warm vinegar. The sole barman seemed unconcerned by this, but was diappointed when we all left.
GrahamA - 7 Jul 2005 13:14
Food may have looked good. Cetainly pub is good for the accountants at head office. Not to my taste
andy - 16 May 2004 21:11
I lived in the flat above the Old Dispensary for about six months in 1998-9 (after it had its latest refit) but never really liked drinking here as it was noisy when full and drafty when empty. The clientele of local office suits were also a bit off putting. I've been back since for the odd pint and nothing much has changed, apart from the quality of the beer which was at least good back then. Very interesting old building though, which apparently was a hospital for a while and may even have connections with Florence Nightingale. The vast dining room above the main bar was only used for training purposes and the odd function, but for me it was best at weekends when the pub was closed and I had friends round for dinner! The cellar is quite scary and has vaults that run under the pavement.
congokid - 8 Nov 2003 20:03
Seems to cater for smart office-workers from nearby but still maintains an identity as a proper pub rather than a bar. Adnams and Ruddles when I visited, food looked good.
Vindaloo - 22 Oct 2003 13:30

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