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Charles Dickens, Southwark

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user reviews of the Charles Dickens, Southwark

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

This photo is out of date. It is no longer the Charles Dickens and the advertising they are currently putting outside says it will be for Irish beer and Thai food
PeterCom - 19 Aug 2017 20:10
This photo is out of date. It is no longer the Charles Dickens and the advertising they are currently putting outside says it will be for Irish beer and Thai food
PeterCom - 19 Aug 2017 20:08
The 19th century author and social critic probably never visited this pub.
Tuna - 26 Feb 2017 16:14
Now closed with no sign of re-opening
Owlstretcher - 23 Oct 2016 11:15
Great traditional pub with 6 real ales that constantly change. The pub was rather tatty inside and is now closed for refurbishment. The lengthy closure is due to development of the flats upstairs, otherwise it would be closed for a much shorter time. I eagerly await it's re-opening. My current rating was based on the availability of real ale , reasonable price and TV's to watch sport.Once the scruffy interior has been tarted up the rating should improve.
Realalecat - 22 Jun 2015 13:14
Closed yesterday (28/05/15) for a refurb probably closed for 5-6 months due to major construction work at the rear.
elsie_pop - 29 May 2015 15:24
Not going to lie, this place was pretty much my ideal pub. Good beer selection, couple of ciders, polite efficient bar staff, awesome traditional pub menu, great tasting food, no pretensions, clean, good amount of seating, not too loud, beer garden, very good prices...etc etc. It's a bit of a walk from London Bridge (c.10-15 mins), but well well worth it in my opinion. What else can I say - loved it!
TwoFourTwo - 6 Nov 2014 20:59
A bit noisy but 6 handpumps and a friendly Wednesday evening quiz more than make up for this. None of the problems reported by the previous reviewer applied when I was there recently. Well worth a session.
16jamesdoc - 4 Apr 2014 12:35
What's not to like?
Well, on my visit. .
1). An overpowering smell of cooking.
2). We were the only punters in there at the time. What was cooking?
3). Iffy ale.
Tuna - 1 Mar 2014 21:32
Why is this place not busier?

The interior is a bit spartan but there's always a good choice of ale, cheap food, SkySports, what's not to like?
HarryHawthorn - 8 Feb 2014 19:08
Cracking pub with a friendly atmosphere and good selection of real ales.

The food we had last Tuesday was excellent, especially the beef & ale pie.

Great pint of Guinness.
nichols - 5 Nov 2013 19:27
Found myself in this part of town after several years.

Bizarre & quite horrible. Asked for a pint of Aspalls cider (all the beer I saw going out had a haze). Cider came out with a "Continental" head. Since when did cider have a head?

Ordered a pie. Told they would be ready in time for "Tea".

Switched to Chili con Carne, advertised HOT HOT HOT. Should have said NOT NOT NOT!

Can't understand other reviews here. I would swerve as there is plenty of choice around here.
bitters - 30 Aug 2013 17:47
After my 1st visit I was keen to return however when I did return on Saturday night I was slightly disappointed.

Still a good selection of ales but the first pint I had was very off, the barman changed it no question but you shouldn't be getting such a badly off pint.

Quiet on a Saturday night.
lezford - 5 Aug 2013 14:10
Strange goings on recently has seen a regularly packed wednesday quiz night, reduced to a handful of punters. First they scrapped the roll over jackpot, that could regularly get into 3 figures and replaced it with a raffle for a bottle of whiskey that has Aldi/Lidl written all over it, then sacked the long term host and replaced him with some young 'un who seems terrified of a microphone.
ErroneousBlack - 3 Jul 2013 16:25

6 beers on tap the evening me and a colleague visited for the first time.

Half of the beers were local brews which I liked in this free house and it was cheap at £7.00 for 2 pints...decent for this area.

Food was being served with the smell being very strong and slightly off putting.

Decent pub and worthy of a 2nd visit in the near future

lezford - 9 Jun 2013 19:18
I agree with your general sentiments , but on my visits I have found this a sound and solid boozer.
Tuna - 12 May 2013 00:36
I agree Simon, sadly this is now the trend all over our great nation. BOO!!
nokegthanks - 11 May 2013 20:55
When it comes writing the history of the decline of the British pub I hope space will be found for a discussion of how publicans, breweries and pubcos have destroyed pubs by insensitive restoration and poor design.

The Charles Dickens is an example of this. It is potential a fine community local which is being strangled by what the owners think the punters (and which we rarely do).

It ticks almost all the boxes of what not to do. TV screens tick, loud music tick, faux gastropub layout tick, large open space for vertical drinking tick, lack of atmosphere and purpose tick.

The food was at best average. Staff were OK.

Still the beer was good (and reasonably priced for this part of London) with some interesting micro-brews.

There is potentially a good pub here, but...
simontheeditor - 11 May 2013 19:08
It's okay. A bit down at heel but the beer was okay and I could get a seat. There are much better pubs towards Borough but this is fine if you don't want a five minute walk.
djw - 10 Oct 2012 22:49
Quiet when we called on Tuesday afternoon, but I'm sure that the place is much more convivial when there is a bit of a crowd in. Decent selection of ales from around the country, and served in good condition. Did not eat here, but the food advertised on the board looked to be staple pub dishes and well-priced. Excellent view of the nearby Shard from the street outside. Nice drawings of Dickens characters on the walls.
Stamfordian - 15 Mar 2012 11:26
Basic local's pub with a good choice of cask ales including a mild. Well worth a look if passing.
baxterfish - 25 Feb 2012 11:50
Totally agree with the previous comments. If the staff and landlord/lady worked on creating a better atmosphere maybe more people would enjoy the good selection of beers. Worth visiting for a quick pint...could be so much better.
rob372 - 15 Feb 2012 08:09
I can't make my mind up about this pub. The beer is well kept, if a bit pricy, with a good variety that changes regularly. The food is fine and good value. But the bar staff don't exactly make you feel welcome, and, as others have commented, the place is oddly lacking in atmosphere. I keep going back though, so it must have some charm.
Schwalbe - 4 Dec 2011 20:46
I'm surprised that the comments about this pub are so positive. I visited a few weeks ago early on a Saturday evening and it was pretty mediocre. They'd run out on two pumps so there was little choice of beer. I give them credit that my third choice was a good pint, but it wasn't enough to compensate for the place not having much atmosphere. Perhaps I caught it on a bad day, or was sitting in the wrong place, so by all means give it a try, but it wasn't for me.
hitchinsampler - 2 Dec 2011 23:25
Its a small traditional pub hidden in Southwark but if you're in the area its well worth a try.had a few pints of Dark Age from Celt brewery and must say it was delicious .they have six beers on plus a good choice of lagers . Food menu looks promising too .Can't wait for my next visit
beeraddict - 14 Nov 2011 21:16
Great pub for selection of ales available. Not too busy, possibly being a little out of the way, but no suits which makes a change from a lot of pubs in the area at that time of night. Strange selection of furniture looks like they've been around a few second hand furniture shops and picked whatever there was.

Good service both when ordering drinks and food, although whilst it was only around 7.30pm they had no steak and ale pies left. Ordered chilli with nachos and cheese instead, very nice, and no complaints from colleagues who had raost beef in a Yorkshire pud and scampi. All 3 meals were around the £7 mark, very good value. Don't remember seeing any women in the place other than the barmaid, not sure why?
phill1110 - 24 Oct 2011 13:22
Brilliant place.a must go pub for real ale enthusiasts.fantastic range of well kept beers that change all the time.great food, lovely atmosphere ,wonderful staff (it comes as a nice surprise that you don't have to wait long to get served and they will actually help you choose a beer) what more do you need.its a great pub
alebabe - 12 Aug 2011 21:04
Decent micro beer range, 5 mins walk from Southwark tube.
Wilson_MacDonald - 4 Aug 2011 23:58
On recent visits to this pub,I have found that the the opening times are not to be relied upon as you would with normal pub hours,Saturdays they call last orders at 9 30 pm and sundays they close at 6 pm and as recently as Mon 1st August they closed before 10 pm.Another bad point is the poor condition of gents toilets, urinals always overflowing.The beer is reasonable
if happen to find the pub open when you visit.
beergulper - 2 Aug 2011 19:31
This is great pub with excellent choice of real ales, 6 handpumps on the bar at one price £3 20p per pint,Very busy during lunchtime and early evening good food served,Wednesday is pub quiz night starts at 8 30 pm (free to enter, winners get free round of drinks),also has a small outside seating area at the back of the pub.Weekends are less busy closes at11 pm on Saturday,
I would advise anyone visiting on Sunday to check with the pub as they were closing at 8 pm but this has now changed to 6 pm and sometimes earlier

beergulper - 16 May 2011 23:53
Went with my mates last thursday for the first time and it was well worth it. We were spoilt for choice beer and food wise. It was supposed to be a crawl but we ended up staying in untill closing time .Six everchanging beers and traditional food with a twist which is exactly what you look for in a pub like this .the pub has a great atmosphere and fantastic staff who are doing a great job.we had a great time , would recommend it to everybody but especially to real ale lovers
Thirstylady - 7 Feb 2011 22:43
I have only popped in a couple of times but have greatly enjoyed it when I have. All the ales I had were in very good condition.
tonyandrachel - 15 Jan 2011 14:25
A friendly welcome on entering. I had a nicely chilled pint of Aspall's draught cider of a flavour enjoyably similar to champagne. A late lunch of a large Yorkshire pudding filled with three toothsome bangers, mashed potatoes of a well-chosen variety and a floret of broccoli: well-cooked, tasty, speedily served and good value for money. A well managed pub; clean toilets. I liked this good, ordinary pub, but sadly am unlikely to be in the area again.
Mona_Growser - 5 Dec 2010 11:41
pleasant surroundings and beer was average but seems to lack atmosphere.
covman45 - 2 Nov 2010 16:41
No, the Hope Pole was nearby in Gambia Street and is now a restaurant [Mar i Terra]. The Charles Dickens was previously the Red Lion.
TiaMariaJim - 16 Oct 2010 06:30
Wasn't this called The Hop Pole once upon a time?
Dan137 - 15 Oct 2010 22:29
Pretty average place - Indian barman - a few people there when I went in and it gradually filled up - but no great atmosphere really - another place checked off the list but no need to go back.
adamwalsh - 15 Oct 2010 19:01
Enjoyed a friendly welcome and a decent pint on Sunday early lunchtime. My one quibble is that the muzak (presumably for benefit of the staff, as we were the only customers) was (a) unnecessary and (b) if necessary, far too loud. But they were obviously gearing up to be deservedly busy with Sunday lunchers and if we hadn't been set on a little crawl we would happily have stayed longer.
joegreen - 12 Oct 2010 21:17
Great Pub, A real find!!! Went on a thursday eveing and the place was buzzing. Great food too and really friendly staff. Met the owner Andrew who is a real gent!! I'll be back.
Kmg - 4 Sep 2010 10:59
Have only visited twice, but found ale selection to be very impressive both times, am looking forward to returning in the near future. it's also conveniently located close to some other quality pubs like the Royal Oak, King's arms and Lord Clyde, all easily do-able in a few hours wandering between waterloo and London Bridge
virginiaplain - 16 Jun 2010 11:19
Two years on from my last horrid visit I popped in agsin to find whilst the service was better, the beer choice interesting and the floor swept, the "Sky TV" as advertised on here was infact not avialable, a bit of a blow when wanting to watch the Play-off final.
loveleedshatebates - 23 May 2010 20:31
Great little place.fantastic selection of beers such as sharps, cottage,harveys,nethergate.Brilliant staff who for a change know what they are doing and must admit they do take care of their beers.hopefully I am going to visit it very soon again
Realalelass - 6 Feb 2010 17:25
Excellent boozer. Was in late last night and had a couple of good pints Weltons Horsham Ale and a Nethergate Mild. Just how a London pub should be.
KTh - 29 Jan 2010 09:02
Me and two other real ale enthusastists recently did a bar crawl in the Southwark area with the good beer guide as a guide we visited all those listed and looked into a few others left ..quickly, until we popped into the Charles Dickens its a gem friendly staff six real ales i had a pint of junction ale from sam brooks brewery it was SUPERB .. best pint i have had in a long long time went back the next evening but unfortunatly they had sold out but had a few other pints real ales inc Harveys Ale and finished off with Umble ale all well served and delicious great pub well run !! how its not in the good beer guide surprises me and i am amases me..!!! I wish the Dickens was a local of mine but alas i live in Clapton area..!
onfortheroad - 20 Nov 2009 18:46
this was my father in laws local back in the seventies when it was the red lion, back then it was a solid locals boozer with no real ales, I'm ashamed to say that even after reading all the positive reviews over the last few years, and still visiting the area on a semi regular basis have not been in here yet to sample the ales on offer, must rectify that next time I'm in my old stamping ground
vinnnie - 14 Oct 2009 12:21
One of the best kept secrets in London. A fine traditional pub, with 6 ever-changing beers, mainly from micro breweries. Good value food as well. Has small paved beer garden at rear for smokers. Quiz night Wednesdays. Excellent service from friendly staff. High recommended.
Owlstretcher - 14 Oct 2009 11:32
Selection of ales yesterday from Nethergate, Skinners, Twickenham, Adnams, Itchen Valley and Woods all at £2.95 a pint. The 2 I tried were fine rather than excellent. Didn't try the food but the menu looked good and reasonably priced. I'd certainly drop in here again.
cheshirecat - 25 Aug 2009 09:41
The staff are friendly without exception. There are several well kept and interesting real ales available. The pint glasses are filled right up to the top - this is unusual anywhere but especially this close to Central London. You can sit at tables and talk to your friends. Pub food available. I like this pub very much.
hayesgrapes - 21 Jul 2009 17:22
Went for the first time on Monday with some friends on a recommendation as to the quality of the real ale.
Of the 4 beers we collectively tried, the only one that was acceptable was the Mild. The others were all warm, cloudy and flat. The place has a Cask Marque sign on the wall. Maybe it was an off-day but they need to do much better to retain that.
IGK - 8 Jul 2009 13:25
Due to train delays at Waterloo I popped along here. Sambrook's Wandle, Sharp's Own, Brodies Red, Bath Spa, Cottage Mod n Hound, O'Hanlons Firefly, all at £2.95. Traditional looking pub, small beer garden out the back. Line drawings on the wall.

Good pub.
GuideDogSaint - 2 Jul 2009 23:21
Beer nearly always good here unless of course it's near the end. One of the better pubs in that they serve MILD my favourite tipple. Always ask if you want any Real Ale changed they invariably will. "Taster" again ask, but be polite I have never been refused.
fatcontroller - 24 May 2009 09:33
Maybe went on an off day. Sunday roast at 13:30 - cheap at £7 but just tiny scraps of brown chicken meat and the Yorkshire pudding came from a freezer.
concrete - 26 Apr 2009 23:50
This pub was virtually empty when my mates and I arrived on a saturday afternoon. And more's the pity, because we absolutely loved it. Six ale pumps, all on, all serving a variety of beers we'd never come across - Hogs Back Spring Ale, Nethergate Charles Dickens (I assume brewed for the pub), Wentworth Best, Brodie's English Best, Elgood Feelgood Factor and West Berkshire Dr Hexter's Wedding Ale. My pint of Feelgood factor was very nice and the barmaid was very accomodating, letting one of my mates have a taster to help him decide. A strong contender for the title of 'Best pub in SE1'
ChrisP87 - 29 Mar 2009 11:05
Came in here couple of months ago - beer choice good and it was busy - lots of numedia youngsters talking loudly - but somewhat souless. Moved on into the Borough.
gonetolunch - 24 Mar 2009 14:51
Decent little pub. Good range of guest beers. Have yet to try the food. Worth the slight detour off the main roads for a jar or 2. I will say the service is usually quite abrupt.
Zaphod - 12 Mar 2009 16:47
This pub is great- and I've always had a great time on the Wednesday Night quiz- but last time I was in, I saw a team looking up the answers on an iphone- what is the point!? I ask you. It's not about the winning, sure, but it's not on- that's what I think, anyway. Is there any way we can stop this kind of cheating? Great pub, as I say, but if there's clientele with that kind of team spirit, I'm voting low.
earlhicks - 8 Mar 2009 23:48
Quite nice looking inside but when I went on a Sunday afternoon it was very food orientated with a strong restaurant smell in the air. Large selection of real ales I had Slaters Queen Bee which was excellent and a Bath Ale which was OK. The landlady (I assume) was a bit grumpy.
beerandpaperman - 26 Jan 2009 17:50
I think that I spotted six ale pumps in here, but only two were on during my visit. Amstel, San Miguel, Kronenburg, Grolsch, Aspells, Strongbow and Guinness were also available and the Fosters was off. I found the barmaid to be very dismissive and she certainly didnít make me feel welcome in any way.

There are a couple of plasma screens which were showing Sky News, which I have to say was muted although none of us five people in the pub were watching it anyway.

I am a little surprised at the 6.9 rating as I couldnít get settled in here and I canít see myself ever returning.
Strongers - 16 Jan 2009 09:54
Always a disappointment...

A great selection of beers, often served out of condition.

On Wednesdays they have a quiz - and turf you out of your seets for regular teams - een if you were there before the reserved signs went out. How rude!

Hate to advise avoiding the pub - but that's lift. If they pulled their socks up a bit, it would be great!

Cheers c(_) !!
busman77 - 4 Jan 2009 19:13
Hi Friends,

Sadly there will be NO QUIZ Wednesday 17th December due to private party bookings.

Quiz back on Wednesday 7th January with £200 Jackpot to win.

Have a great Christmas and a prosperous New York>

Eddie "The Fat Controller"
fatcontroller - 16 Dec 2008 18:08
Hi Fat Controller here,

Hoping for a better 2009 have had one or two probs this year.

Last Quiz of this year is Wednesday 17 December £200 Jackpot must be won!

First Quiz in the New Year Wed 7th January.

Merry Quizmas and a prosperous New Year to all.

Eddie "The not so fat controller"
fatcontroller - 11 Dec 2008 19:24
Is the quizmaster ok? He was a no-show last time I turned up on quiz night!
FreeBornJack - 1 Dec 2008 23:41
Don't believe it too difficult to find but admit that it's further down Union St (from Borough High St, or the cut across from MP) than I usually think. However, CLOSED again Sat20Sep (13:30), so I don't think I'll be bothered again with the walk for such inconsistency.
trainman - 8 Oct 2008 12:31
A very reasonable boozer. Bit of a trek to find, and certainly having been here now twice, the first by accident, would recommend an A-Z. Ales are all reasonable, not sure what nationality the bar staff are or particularly feel it's worth quite the OTT reactions by some.

In any case, would recommend this if you don't fancy the uber-scadenfraude that is Imbibe, and just need a beer in a relaxed environment. Plus the suits haven't cottoned on yet, so be happy!
rampantwurzel - 1 Oct 2008 16:14
Myself and some mates went along for the quiz night. Had a great time - an interesting selection of real ales on tap and an eccentric quiz master made for a stimulating evening. Be warned the questions are tricky.
FreeBornJack - 16 Sep 2008 15:34
PS - while plaintalkingdrinker's generally negative, at least he's been to more than 1 pub in the last two years, which is more than can be said for you judging by your reviews.
topdog_andy - 9 Aug 2008 11:56
Let me get this right - if someone posts a review that differs from your opinion of a place, you expect them to APOLOGISE or accuse them of lying? I suspect you may have a Barack Obama-sized ego there Mr. Controller.

I think this is a decent place, but also had an experience like plaintalkingdrinkers where the place was empty and the mindless scrolling of Sky Sports News on the TVs dominated the pub. How about if there's nothing to show on the TVs they don't show anything? I have yet to meet anyone who's said "Let's go to __________, they'll have Sky Sports News on".

Anyway, I'm sure that view differs from yours, so a thousand apologies and hail marys...
topdog_andy - 9 Aug 2008 11:53
Please be aware in my last postng the girls behind the bar at the "Charles Dickens" are difinately NOT "P's". many apologies.
fatcontroller - 9 Aug 2008 10:38
I suggest plaintalkingdrinker that you keep your foul mouthed opinions to yourself and stick to lager.

The TV's are always muted or are you deaf?

All you seem to want to do is complain! See other reviews by him!

Over priced beer bad service try Borough High St. Why do you go into these so called dens of inquity. Stick to to the "Trendy" bars and see what kind of service you get there at 10pm.

If you have genuine critisims write a letter direct to the Owner / Manager but most of get your facts right. The 2 young ladies behind the bar are not as you suggest Russian or Romanan and definately "P's".

Might I suggest an apology or that not a word you are familiar with?
fatcontroller - 9 Aug 2008 10:34
Cracking little local pub. Nice interior even if the hard wood benches can pain the behind after a while. Always an excellent range of real ales which seem to change almost by the day. Eclectic mix of locals, office workers and the odd thespian, fresh from a rehearsal in the arts centre acorss the road. Graham Norton was in there a couple of weeks ago..
Pumpkinjuice - 1 Aug 2008 16:41
A pleasant surprise. Previous reveiews were mixed but I would have no hesitation adding this to a crawl of the area. Beer was good, as was ther service.
TheHorsesMouth - 2 Jun 2008 14:23
Visited on a sunny Thursday lunchtime. Wasn't quite sure what to expect following recent reviews.

The dark mild was off, but 5 other real ales on. I had a pint of the Sharps' Eden (top notch, Cornish brewery), and a pint of Slaters Premium (errr, Staffs somewhere I think) which wasn't bad. Pub wasn't busy, and two staff behind the bar who were friendly enough and quick.

Smallish pub with a backroom and, as pointed out previously, a sort of open plan kitchen thing where you can watch yer liver and bacon being prepared. Tayto crisps for anyone who needs to know. Adverised as a freehouse, although lots of Adnams stuff (glasses, noticeboards, etc) around, without any Adnams beer being on offer.

I was pleasntly surprised by this place. I imagine it can get full easily though. Based on this visit, I would say its well worth adding to a crawl if yer doing one in the area. Probably a 7.5, but I've given it a 7 on the basis that the beautiful lunchtime sun might have interfered with my judgement.
Mercurial - 22 May 2008 16:10
What a dive. Arrived at 12 to find the doors blocked by chairs and the barmaid inside listening to the radio, 10 mins later 3 of us are standing in the rain waiting. Out comes barmaid, chunks two metal tables down in a huff and says "you can come in now" about as surley has she could. As ordering beer she is turning around the labels on 3 out of the 5 ales. Choose Hambildon, it was foul (couldn't drink more than a quater) and went to sit in the mucky food area, which looked like a 70's refectory with its open-plan grease ridden kitchen. I was just about to depart after making the mistake of going to the dirty smelly bogs when the two people who had come in with me got up leaving nearly full pints and left, at which point the barmaid followed them out and shouted across the street "you coming back for these". She clearly hated having people in so I gave her the empty pub she craved.

Old style pubs are fine but they are no excuse for dirt and insolence!!
loveleedshatebates - 18 May 2008 07:39
best pub on the southbank not pretentious just down to earth great pub fantastic food terrific choice of real ales just how a real pub should be and oh yes grest lanlord and terrific staff
onfortheroad - 13 Apr 2008 20:57
Having been in here a couple of times now I canít quite decide whether I like the place or not.
On the plus side there are 6 real ales on the go, the Sharpís IPA I had yesterday was in good condition, but not great. And I suspect the problem they may face is keeping the 6 beers fresh, as they seem to attract rather a young, trendy, non real beer drinking crowd.
Another plus is that they are all priced at £2.90 which is not bad at all for this part of London.
The negative for me is the layout of the pub itself, there are a few large tables dotted around the walls of the two rooms and once these have been filled you feel rather conspicuous and in the way, standing in the centre of the pub. Also I have to say, there was a rather overwhelming smell of chip fat coming from the kitchen the other night, which coupled with the above lack of space, led to an earlier than would have been departure.

mrse1 - 8 Apr 2008 11:11
I think I like this pub more with each visit, which is a very good sign indeed. In there for lunch the other day, washed down with a pint of superb Itchen Valley Winchester Ale. Several other decent real ales on offer as well (as always), but now all at £2.90 a pint. Food was OK for the price. Worth going there for the ales alone.
RexRattus - 6 Apr 2008 11:16
Very good little pub, food and booze very good. Had a pint of the Twickenham Spring ale at lunchtime which was absolutely delicious. The staff are always very pleasant and efficient, combinmed with an always interesting range of ales makes this a must visit pub.
Alfnoax - 27 Mar 2008 13:36
Didn't make a note of the beers but Maldenman's list gives you an idea. I tried 3 of the 6 on handpump and they were all very good - I've found that quality has not always quite matched the good selection on a few previous visits, so let's hope this standard continues. Rugby showing on the two plasmas with volume tempered to the small number of punters (Sat 16:00). One issue that needs to be addressed is that the kitchen is open to the rear of the pub and seriously needs a decent extractor to prevent the pervasive smell of cooking oil throughout.
trainman - 16 Mar 2008 11:54
A great find in the South Bank hinterland not far from the Tate Modern and that pedestrian bridge across the river. Fairly quiet and chilled in the afternoon, timber wainscotted walls, wooden floors and settles. The Charles Dickens theme is maintained by prints of a series of Dickens characters on the walls. L shaped centre bar, with the same shaped room to the front and a rear area with two large rooflights set up seemingly for food with a servery counter. Two large TVs showing Sky Sports on one and Ch4 racing on the other, both muted.

Six good ales available on handpump, all priced at a fair £2-85. Ranging from 3.0 to 4.5 there were Harveys Dark Mild, Slaters Original, Cottage Whippet Gold Cup, Mighty Oak In Seine, and St Patricks Stout, and Highgate Irish Whiskey Ale. Those tasted were in very good condition, the friendly Irish Guv seems to appreciate decent ale.

The blackboard over the bar displays well priced honest pub food such as ham egg and chips £5-95, Steak, onions, chips, mushrooms, tomatoes £8-95 and Lasagne with chips for £6-95.

A good find and worthy of many a revisit.
Maldenman - 15 Mar 2008 09:47
A tucked away pub of a very high quality. An excellent range of well kept beers and a congenial atmosphere. My only gripes are the intrusive TV and one unengaging barman, but the barmaid was very good. Definitely worth a visit.
steveclapham - 13 Mar 2008 08:57
A free house pub with six real ales available on hand pumps yesterday. Although our second pub on yesterdayís pre football ale crawl I get the feeling it had only just opened. The bar girl was marking up the black boards that are put outside. I think she was stating that the two plasma screens were going to be showing the 6 nations rugby later. Whilst we were there it looked like the early FA cup game was going to be shown.
For the majority of our stay we were the only visitors in the pub. From reading other reviews I think they are quite new to opening at weekends. From the write up in the GBG we were hoping to get food in this pub. It looks like this is the only day (Saturday) of the week where cooked food is unavailable.
The ale we all selected was in good condition but there definitely seemed something missing. I guess visiting the pub during the week itís a whole different experience. I would hope that they do not over use the TV as this makes pubs forgettable unfriendly experiences IMO. If you are however looking for a good selection of real ale and looking for a pub that shows regular sport over the weekend this would be a good choice.

Love_good_ale - 9 Mar 2008 12:54
Good news it's now going to be open on both Saturday (light snacks) and Sunday with Lunches from 12 Noon so Andrew the Governor tells me. The've got 6 Real Ales Adams, Nethergate, Cottage, Itchen Valley, Harveys and Slatters Top Totty when I was there Wednesday. They also have been awarded their "Cask Marque" certificate for quality. Very well deserved.
The've finally got the big front window repaired following a break in two months ago. Total case of Insurance company not wanting to fork out £2,000 or we'll double your premiums, no joke. Sadly Rob has left after a disagreement. New manager soon hopefully, one who understands REAL ALE please!
fatcontroller - 17 Feb 2008 15:22
Also CLOSED at 12:45 last Sat, and one of the large front windows was boarded over. No-one has bothered to leave any notice at the premises as to the status of this pub; anyone any idea?
trainman - 5 Feb 2008 23:10
We were looking to start our Saturday crawl here last weekend but don't rely on the advertised opening time of 11:30

It was shut at 11:40 and no sign of life anywhere...

eddierowles - 3 Dec 2007 07:37
Terrific pub put it on your REAL ALE crawl of Borough and Southwark. New bar manager Rob really knows his stuff and is stocking some great real ales Pitfield, Dark Star and Nethergate just to mention 3. Food still fantastic, as are the ladies behind the bar June, Kamilla and Sylvia but then again I'm baised as I do the quiz on Wednesday's.
fatcontroller - 1 Sep 2007 15:35
give the dickens ten out of ten for its ales, without a doubt. very few places in london provide such a range and at high quality.
bagwell - 13 Aug 2007 12:53
Dead right realmeerkat beer range now back to normal loads of fabulous micro stuff. Apparently the cellar cooler broke down, but thats been fixed so great beer at the right temperature. Shame they don't do decent Vodka but Great food made up for it had the Burger and Chips plate not big enough even though it was larger than I have for Sunday Lunch. Great French cheese picture round in the quiz, only got 3 right and I came second last but what the hell its all about taking part. What is the "ology" that is the study of miracles was the Jackpot question, glad I didn't get that one.
ultimatebingocaller1 - 12 Jul 2007 17:33
Beer seemed okay to me but I'm no expert. Some of the surrounding pubs are decidely bad so this one stands out - I'm not exactly sure what people expect.
realmeerkat - 11 Jul 2007 22:34
Unfortunately this place has declined significantly. It should be removed from the DBG immediately as the standard of ale served is pretty poor indeed. While the variety is good, it is not enough just to stock beers that do not sell in sufficient quantities.
Its a shame because I had high hopes of this pub, but it would appear that profit taking, without looking after the product quality, means that the Dickens joins the pack of expensive and mediocre establishments that form the majority in the area.
mally - 23 Jun 2007 12:23
I like this pub but can we have our micro brewery beers back. Nothing wrong with Fullers, Youngs and Harveys but you can get them all over London and cheaper. I thought the unusal range was great but it seems to be getting boring now. The spirits are now of the cheap cash and carry variety as well but still top prices. WHY? Food is good but had some sad chips the other day, hope it was a one off or I'll have to go back to the MP. Great Quiz Wednesday and I wasn't last. Thanks, Fat Controller. he's also at The Wenlock haven't there either but never mind my day will come, I hope. I agree all beers at £2.70 is odd but I suppose that makes it easy for the bar staff who are very friendly Camilla, Sylvia are two smashers.
ultimatebingocaller1 - 16 Jun 2007 16:05
The plus point with this pub is the range of real ales they always have on, all at a not unreasonable £2.70 per pint. But pretty spartan decor, and the non-smoking area in the rear is too close to the open plan kitchen to be comfortable. The smell of food when I was in there last week was fairly overpowering. But worth a visit for the beer alone.
RexRattus - 27 May 2007 14:04
I've been to this pub on a few occasions now and the beer quality (real ale not the fizzy stuff) has deteriorated with each visit. Apart from the ludicrous pricing policy ie each beer is £2.70 a pint (up 20p since December and before the budget) regardless of strength, the main problem is the quality. All the beers are too warm, and most not well kept, I had a pint of Harveys which was warm and completely unrecognisable. I would suggest the landlord pay attention to his beer because if he can't serve it well in February & March it will be rancid in summer. I would be surprised to see this pub in the Campaign for Real Ale guide next year
anonymous - 2 Apr 2007 14:38
Super untrendy boozer that concentrates on real ales and great food. Great staff Andy the Guv, Camilla and June in the afternoon.
fatcontroller - 31 Mar 2007 13:55
Finally tried my technical 'local' last week. Not the nicest place to enjoy a drink what with the obtrusive TVs, but the beer is first class. 6 handpumps, all beers well kept. Tried Spring Zing, and 2 others, but memory's a little hazy...
quiff - 26 Mar 2007 17:09
This is an excellent pub which usually has at least 5 real ales -always in very good condition. A friendly establishment with a nice ambience and good food. On 20/2/07 they had Brains Bread of Heaven, Adnams Broadsword, Cottage Wessex, Wadworths Henrys IPA, Sharps Doom Bar and Gales swing low. Hope the England/Welsh Rugby teams do justice to all these ales brewed specially. Situated in a very good area for an excellent crawl.
Secretary - 22 Feb 2007 11:22
Fantastic pub, on route from London Bridge to Waterloo 6 great real ales and food to match. Went for quiz last Wednesday but crowd from The Jerwood Centre nice that they are stopped it happening. Lets hope for better things this Wed.
superbingocaller - 20 Feb 2007 14:13
Updated review following first impressions as this pub is really a good one. The landlord and staff are friendly, happy and make people feel very welcome. Also this pub is the only pub in the immediate vicinity that has retained it's character

The beers have been good on every occasion and I recommend the pub highly.
Badgers - 13 Feb 2007 10:03
Top boozer
tufnellparka - 18 Jan 2007 15:16
Great selection of ales that change regularly. Also excellent burgers. The landlord, Andy, tries to get to know everyone who comes in. Not the most attractive of places though and the Sky TV's a bit annoying. Cosier and much friendlier than the Windmill and less poncey than the Anchor and Hope, I'd say this is my favourite boozer in the area. Closed on Saturdays though.
Gerontay - 16 Jan 2007 17:05
After my trip up north for Christmas and The New Year it was good to get back into the groove of visiting the Great pubs of London again. The Charles Dickens once again did not disappoint 6 fabulous beers in great nick. Thought I'd caught Andy off the waggon but oh no! you can't sell if you a'int tried it laddie he said, taking another sip. Don't try the Adnam's "Tally Ho!" till your going home £1.60 a half but what a beer! See you next week.
fatcontroller - 11 Jan 2007 20:26
I enjoyed my visit to this interesting and varied selection of tasty ales. Fairly friendly atmosphere for a weekday night (at least until closing time), and a reasonably fun pub quiz. Well worth a visit.
Muzthing - 11 Jan 2007 17:49
As said below, very cosy and welcoming, a vast difference from many pubs nearby. Good beer range, and a variety of custom.
mtaylor40 - 10 Jan 2007 21:02
Wonderful pub - excellent selection of really well kept ales. A nice combination of old favourites and some more unusual beers; a worthy addition to this year's Good Beer Guide.

Staff are knowledgeable, friendly and welcoming - especially Andy the landlord who is always happy to suggest beers and have a chat. I'm lucky to be able to pop in during my lunch hour, but it's definitely worth making a special trip for. Highly recommended!


CLJ - 9 Jan 2007 16:19
I was initially sceptical about coming here - I used to work in a nearby street from 97-00 and having visited this pub once dismissed it as a dodgy local - however it seems to have improved greatly with a good range of beers. Thoroughly recommended!
trousers - 29 Dec 2006 14:18
Thank you for a Fantastic evening - a superbly run, charming and above all, genuinely welcoming and friendly atmosphere. You all made our night. I shall not hesitate about returning (hopefully in the very near future)!
Freckers - 24 Dec 2006 13:21
Spacious with cosy atmosphere and large selection of christmas ales. Friendly landlord, good service. Was perfect for our christmas work do. Really enjoyed it!
enorris - 18 Dec 2006 11:31
I went along based on the strength of the reviews on this site and wasn't disappointed. I worked my way along the ales and Julie enjoyed a bottle of S.A. Chenin.

Andy the landlord is a friendly guy who is keen to listen to any feedback from punters and to keep them happy and coming back.

I will defintely be returning for more of the same.
RossCarmichael - 15 Dec 2006 18:14
Spacious but murky pub saved from obscurity by the six handpulls on offer (a combo of old stagers and a couple of unusual choices - though not sure what the point of having Harveys on is when the Royal Oak is up the road but still).

Friendly staff, and Daddies sauces with the food which always gets marks in my book.
Quinno - 13 Dec 2006 21:23
nice pub. Does good food and reasonable range of beers.
flatcapman - 10 Dec 2006 13:52
Very nice pub.

Andy the landlord is a nice fella too. He gave me a free taste of Stormtrooper, which was lovely.

It is out of my way but i will go again.
Miss_Dinner - 30 Nov 2006 15:54
Fantastic. Did a mini-pub crawl from Waterloo to London Bridge yesterday via Southwark's less appealing roads, and staggered into this gem. 6 ales available, nice decor, and friendly bar girl. Also had all the tables candlelit - I think this was meant to make the place look more classy, but actually just made it look like a place that missed its electricity payment.

Bizarrely, we were the only customers in the place. On the other hand, the rather shite looking Union Jack (when crawling past I believe my mate's comment was "I'm not THAT thirsty") was full. Their loss I suppose.

Anyway, a great find off the beaten track. I give this place the highest recommendation, and if you read any of my other posts, that's about as rare as steak tartar. Better take a map though!
topdog_andy - 24 Nov 2006 11:09
A bloody good pub & well worth the find. I haven't been here for thirty years; well worth the wait for such an improvement. Handy having Southwark Tube close by.
anonymous - 12 Nov 2006 03:59
A great addition to the 2007 Good Beer Guide. Great to see a Scot in charge who knows about "Real Ale" 6 from all over the country. Good attentive staff especially "Camilla" new girl "Janet" is starting to get the hang of things. Superb food and lots of it at very reasonable prices. A must visit.
blowmedown - 28 Oct 2006 20:57
Old fashioned pub in a narrow thoroughfare linking Blackfriars and Southwark Bridge Roads. Nicely fitted out in an unfussy style: wooden floors and furniture, pastel painted walls with framed cartoons of Dickensian characters. Most importantly of all it's a freehouse with six ales on handpump, mostly from smaller southern brewers including Nethergate, Hog's Back, Sharp's etc. all @ £2.60 a pint regardless of strength.

Regarding the earlier comments: the back room and gents toilets were both closed off for redecoration (I had to use the ladies!) but I can well imagine the food preparation in the open plan kitchen in the back room can be a bit overbearing for non-diners so personally I would stick to the front room.

Staff were friendly, welcoming and efficient and beer quality was good. Not GBG listed, unless it's a new entry for 2007, but would be a worthy inclusion. Definitely one to add to my SE1 rota alongside the Market Porter, Lord Clyde and Royal Oak.
Rich66 - 22 Oct 2006 20:29
this one is a grower. at first impressions it is fairly unappealing but it's got it's good points. The food is variable, (excellent steak and ale pie, ropey fih and chips). but an excellent pint of bitburger. they could do with seperating the kitchen form the bar area, it's not helping the back room any.
mralistair - 11 Oct 2006 23:54
Great selection of ales, all not the standard stuff you find around town. The kitchen area smells a bit greasy but then it's a kitchen innit!! Decent pub in a decent area for beer! Go.
mitomighty - 5 Oct 2006 20:01
Fantastic Pub, had Sunday lunch there choice of Roast Lamb Beef or Chicken with all the trimmings only £6.95 and the plate was overflowing. Fantastic service and 6 great real ales only £2.50 a pint Adnams and Nethergate bit more variety would have been better but the quality was first rate. Chelsea and Arsenal on the box and both won brill. Only complaint was the loos they need an upgrade clean enough but too small, which stops me giving it a perfect 10
fatcontroller - 19 Sep 2006 15:36
Marvellous cosy pub in a part of London blessed with a number of fine ale houses. 2 rooms, smoking at the front & a rear non-smoking room that overlooks the kitchen. The Dickens has six draught ales, I belive 2 permanent (Adnam's Bitter & Harvey's Sussex) and 4 guests.

The quality of the beer was outstanding. Yesterday, 2 from the Hogs Back brewery - Hair of the Hog & Summer Capers - would have been hard to top, even at the Market Porter. The food is quite varied, with several daily specials at £5.95, all of it reasonably-priced for the location.

On this idle Saturday afternoon we were the only other patrons apart from a large group of actors (including that ginger guy from the Channel 4 or BBC3 sitcom whose name I can't remember & is really annoying me.) However, there was still a good atmosphere & we were quite happy with the friendly service, muted Grandstand & top notch beer. I didn't want to leave.

A must-include on any SE1 crawl.
young_camra_collectiv - 27 Aug 2006 14:33
Had a sneaky second visit-reinforced the good impression of the first. Barmaid called a punter a departing punter back in, who had left an expensive jacket behind. Beer quality and choice was again superb.
BlindTiger - 21 Aug 2006 19:37
An excellent pub, well deserving of the high-ratings on here. Friendly,comfortable, had a fine pint of Sharps Atlantic and has live Premier league footie.
BlindTiger - 16 Aug 2006 18:16
What a great boozer the Charles Dickens is. 6 Real Ales all at only £2.50 and Aspalls Cider on draft. Great food that you can eat. Will be visting again soon.
fatcontroller - 30 Jul 2006 15:39
Thanks Conniwot, you are such a good lad.

Puzzled by the reference below to GK IPA, they definitely don't serve that in the Charles Dickens.
anonymous - 21 Jun 2006 11:10
I went to this pub to watch the England and Trinidad & Tobago game, when I went to order a guest beer the barmaid turned the pump clips around and served me Green King IPA which was disgusting. Because the pub was chokka I didn't complain and left the beer on the table. This is one pub that I will not be going back to.
thejap - 21 Jun 2006 10:02
I like this pub, watched the England/Paraguay in here with my mate Alec. Its a strange pub in a fairly boring side street. The interior is a little bare and uncomfortable. But the bloke behind the bar is decent, the food is good value cafe fare (try the BBC sandwich with chips, very good). Sharps and Adnams brews with some other unusual stuff from various microbreweries.

However - seeing it at Number One surprises me!

When Lennon was asked what he thought about people saying Ringo wasn't the best drummer in the world, he replied "he isn't even the best drummer in the Beatles". That's how I feel about the Charles Dickens - it isn't even the best pub in Borough! Never mind. Long winded.
anonymous - 20 Jun 2006 23:25
If you're a bit of a beer spotter, you're in the area and you can't face the crowds at The Market Porter, head on down here. Seen (and drunk) some cracking beers here. It is a bit smokey, but hey, enjoy it (or not) while it lasts before the nannys change our pubs for ever.. (and I'm not even a smoker!)

My partner enjoyed the wine as well.. but this is BITE after all so I won't comment further...

Would be a perfect entry in the Camra GBG if there's space in the SE1 section (rather full of good pubs already!)
lipster - 20 Jun 2006 17:22
If you are into real ale you will be happy. If you aren't, you won't. Bit of a greasy spoon atmosphere inside though certainly not unpleasant. Excellent, first rate ales at decent prices.
anonymous - 9 Jun 2006 15:11
Again, I would say its a great little boozer this. Great variety of ales. Had a pint of Eden which was ok but the Adnams was lovely. Food is pretty standard but with Thai on nearly every other pub menu it might make a welcome change for some.

Has its own non smoking area, rather spoilt while I was there, by the staff meeting going on in, who were all smoking like chimneys!

All in all worth a go.
selondoner - 7 Jun 2006 16:17
Close to my office so have been in here for a couple of quick ones after work. We also had a company night out here after some training.

Staff are friendly and tolerant when some of our lot got a bit loud and excitable. The food was accpetable but I would not rush back for it. Beer was really good though.

Nice pub and the quiz is pretty good.
Badgers - 25 May 2006 14:35
Five hand pumps, Adnams bitter, two from Sharps, two from Dark Star and summat else. Dark Star American IPA was cracking. Watched the national in here. Magic.
anonymous - 9 Apr 2006 19:15
The beer is still very good and the staff friendly. This place really does deserve to be GBG listed,
mally - 18 Feb 2006 00:19
I know what earlier correspondents meant about the blaring music,, sadly it seems to be a bit of a trait in some Southwark pubs. that said, I like the place, a wide selection of guest ales available, it's just a shame I only go here on my way between leaving work and crossing the river!
PunkySi - 21 Jan 2006 20:36
Went in here for Sunday lunch whilst visiting London - really great. Excellent range of beers - the two I tried were in excellent condition. The Sunday lunch was amazing value as well as beautifully cooked - the staff were friendly and very helpful - wished I could have stayed all day.

I don't recall the music being on that day.
amleyland - 25 Nov 2005 15:21
Great pub great food five real ales from various breweries that I scarcely heard of but it made no difference they were fantatastic. A quiz on wednesday starts at 7pm apparently FREE entry. Why don't I live near here.
fatcontroller - 3 Nov 2005 17:30
Adventurous real ale stock. Fresh beers were spot-on. Be careful landlord: your enthusiasm for the real ale is commendable but trim the number of pumps to what you are selling quickly, thus keeping the quality level high. Don't fall into the same trap as 'The Hole in The Wall' at Waterloo: large real ale choice ,mostly stale because they don't shift enough

Deserves support. Local CAMRA have a look here
mally - 15 May 2005 00:07
Decent beer and a very friendly barmaid but what's this crazy policy of blaring TVs in both bars?
Apparently it's company policy says the miserable manager Ė even when the pub was almost empty. Bad show!
Fergus - 16 Sep 2004 14:17
Nice little pub with a restaurant section. The walls are covered with illustrations portraying characters from Dickens' books, also some shelves with some books.

Food is really good and the beer isn't too shoddy either. Management has just changed which is a bit of a shame.
Mark - 12 Mar 2004 20:57

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