Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Old China Hand: a great local pub

It's my last week in Exmouth Market. One of the things I'm going to miss most are the excellent pubs and restaurants all around me in Islington, Exmouth Market, and Clerkenwell. But I doubt I'll ever have a local as unique as The Old China Hand (8 Tysoe Street, London).

No Ordinary Pub

It's a small pub with carved wooden chairs, a front room and a large space in the back for table tennis. Yes, where else do you get your own full table tennis table in a pub? Uninterested? There are also board games, a regular changing set of cask ales and several fridges full of different beers from all over the world.

In the men's loo this is the urinal (on the right). It's a football goal - always helps to give men a goal to aim at... It's a small thing but I think it's hilarious every time I see it.

The bar staff are friendly. It's stopped serving food - it used to do dim sum - which is a shame. The pub is less busy than I think it should be - the old man in me relishes a quiet pint however - and to be fair the pub is a bit off the beaten track and has fierce local rivalry.

The Easton (22 Easton Street) does food. The Wilmington Arms (69 Rosebery Avenue), boisterous with ever changing ales, live comedy and music listings, is popular throughout the week. Filthy McNastys (68 Amwell Street) - rocky, slightly seedy, utterly charming - also has regular live music.

And on Exmouth Market, there's Cafe Kick (43 Exmouth Market) which always feels like you've stumbled into a Barcelona bar on game night. Oh, there's also The Eagle (159 Farringdon Road) a stone's throw away, the first gastro-pub in London, sister of the Anchor and Hope on the Cut, complete with upstairs art gallery.

Lastly, there's the Exmouth Arms (23 Exmouth Market) - a real spit and sawdust classic London boozer. It was here, sitting at the bar during the 1st leg of Arsenal's Champion's League game against Barcelona (Wednesday 16th Feb 2011), that I hugged a tattooed total stranger when we went a goal up. Thank you Arshavin and Van Persie... Good memories!
Home TeamScoreAway TeamTime
(HT 0-1)
  • Van Persie 78
  • Arshavin 83

  • Villa 26

All in all it's a tough crowd of local competitors but The Old China Hand holds its own by being, as the sign outside proclaims, 'No Ordinary Pub'. Here's to it!

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