Pub #8: Biddles, Lower Clapton

I’ve been running a bit behind lately on the 100 Pubs Project.  I’ve got three pubs to write about, and here is the first one.

Biddles on Lower Clapton Road is the place my friends living in Hackney Downs call their local, and I’ve been there at least a couple of times prior before this Project visit, including one memorable trip when Declan managed to convince some guy from South Africa I was Irish.

Which was kind of funny.

This particular trip was made on a Saturday evening in the company of Aru, Declan and a couple of Declan’s friends who were in from Ireland, one of whom was on her way to Israel the next morning.  The place was quite full, but there was enough room to squeeze in sort of.  However, I delayed having my drink until I was able to secure a place at the bar.

Biddles doesn’t particularly have many ales.  The times prior, I’ve gotten pints of cider, but this evening, I went for Staroprammen, a pint of which cost me £3.20.  It’s cash-only at Biddles as well, so be sure to have some bills or a heavy change purse before trying to buy a pint or three.  Biddles also doesn’t serve food, from my understanding, although I did see a menu of Italian dishes that seemed to be sourced from the Italian grocery shop next to the pub.  Presumably, one would order at the pub and a member of the staff would go next door and order it for you.  However, I’ve never seen this done in person, as the times I’ve been in Biddles the shop next door was closed.

They have live performances from people at Biddles.  One night, I was there with Aru, Declan and Derry when there was a jazz band playing, which was quite good.  This evening, there was some sort of folk/blues performance that seemed to be getting mixed reviews from the crowd.  I overheard one young woman telling her male companion that the music was amazing, but Alex, Declan’s friend, had declared the sounds horrible.  My take: the music was okay, but I preferred jazz night.

Although Biddles may not have a huge selection of ales, it’s got a very nice atmosphere with a mixed crowd of young trendsetters mingling with more established patrons and peppered with other locals.  The pub is made up of three rooms, with the third room being downstairs leading to the toilets with a communal sink.  The other two rooms are on the ground floor, with the bar extending into the second room for drink service.  The stage is in the second room, but the music can generally be heard throughout the pub if it’s a live performance.

This visit to Biddles was a short one, since we had gotten there quite late in the evening.  The staff were ringing a bell to announce the last orders shortly before midnight, and Aru and I left not long after the second bell was rung to go back to their house.

Hopefully next time I’m there, the jazz players will be back.


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