Pub #21: The Pembury Tavern, Amhurst Road

Hackney’s Pembury Tavern was recommended to me a while ago by Derry, and, in the early days of April, it became a destination.

Along with friends Allison and Mike, who were in from Seattle, we went for a meal before Aru’s birthday party later that evening.  I ordered a pint of Snowdrop ale for £3.00 at the bar, and also ordered a vegetarian moussaka after much deliberation, although afterward I noticed the existence of vegetarian bangers n’ mash, which I regrettably missed, but I do intend to sample the next time I am there.

The Pembury is a nice place with a good amount of room, and quite light in the inside.  We all were sitting at a heavy wooden table that was more than accommodating for our beer and conversation and, later, for our food.

Mike is a fan of beer and ale, like many Pacific Northwesterners I’ve come across, and he noticed quite a difference between the American ales he’s used to and the English ale he was drinking: “It’s not fizzy!  I’m used to beer having a bit of carbonation.”  He had asked me if I had noticed any difference between the two, and it was hard for me to say, because at the time it was the 2nd of April, and I hadn’t yet gone back to Orlando for my two week trip.  So I sort of shrugged, since with a couple of rare exceptions like at The Lexington, I haven’t imbibed anything American since I moved back in late August.  The Rare Vos, Dead Guy and Southampton ales I drank back in the Sunshine State were distant memories.

Looking back, I should have seen this as a sign that my beer tastes have been irrevocably altered by English ale, which may need a whole Tasty Fever posting on its own.  But for now I will say that the pint of Snowdrop ale, which Derry also had ordered, was quite delightful.  It’s a fairly light ale that had a nice taste to it and was immensely easy to drink.  Allison may have ordered it as well, looking back at the photos from that late afternoon.

The way the light streamed into the pub made it sort of difficult for me to take photographs from where I was sitting, but it provided a nice atmosphere.  Derry and Allison were on the same student program at Waseda University in Tokyo, which is also where Derry and my awesome friend Aru met.  Aru and Derry are now housemates in the fabled Button Factory of Hackney along with others, and a feature of intermittent house guests from around the world, such as Allison and Matt.

Our food came, and I think the gentlemen were quite pleased with their orders.  My vegetable moussaka was okay.  I think it wasn’t something I was quite in the mood for, and I felt it could have done with a bit more of a spice or a kick to it–perhaps some black pepper or maybe some cheese that had a bit more bite.  It’s all right, but I probably wouldn’t order it again.  I think the sausage n’ mash would have been the way to go, but there are also a few other vegetarian options on their menu.  The vegetable moussaka was on the board as a special, among other dishes which weren’t featured on the regular menu.

After eating, another round of ale was ordered, and I went for something (as did Derry) that I’ve since forgotten, but it was quite a contrast to the Snowdrop ale enjoyed earlier.  I struggled through this pint of dark, heavy ale, but it bested me, and I wound up pouring the rest of my drink into Derry’s glass, who didn’t seem particularly enthused about being saddled with the task of finishing it all.  Thick, heavy ale after dinner = no.  Leaving Derry, and the leaden ale, at The Pembury, Allison, Mike and I went back to the Button Factory in hopes of post-dinner naps (that for me never transpired) prior to Aru’s birthday party that night.

All in all, The Pembury Tavern visit was pleasant, and I liked the atmosphere.  The staff seemed generally nice and efficient, and the clientele was a mix of Hackney’s finest, with many young folks clustered around tables with their friends, including canine pals.  For my American friends who are more accustomed to rules prohibiting pets in restaurants and bars, London is very dog-friendly; dogs in pubs are a fairly common sight.

Veggie sausages n’ mash, I’m coming for you next time.

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