Saturday, March 14, 2009
The North Star - Leytonstone's best pub by a mile - has had a rough time lately. Some bureaucratic glitch prevented their licence being renewed, leading to about a month of forced closure. There was also a bizarre and unwarranted hate campaign on Beer In The Evening (warning - there's some bad language on that link) and to cap it all, some jackass smashed the fine etched-glass door to the main bar. Last night we had our first visit since the reopening, walking up Browning Road with some trepidation after being tipped off that the pub had been "refurbished". My experience with refurbished pubs has not been a happy one. I appreciate I am probably alone in loving wallpaper with an inch of sticky nicotine on it and chipped formica tables, but a lot of my favourite pubs have chucked the baby out with the bathwater when they've had the decorators in. What I liked about the North Star was the tatty charm of the tongue and groove panelling and the low key lighting. I was fully expecting to see a skip outside full of the pub's soul. I needn't have worried. All that's been done is some fresh paintwork and replacing the 25-watt bulbs with brighter ones, a good dusting and some new curtains. Apparently, much of the decorating was done by the pub's many loyal regulars. The main bar's door was boarded up while a replica of the original is being made. I did make a mental note of what was on their six pumps last night, but trying to keep up with my father-in-law means I can only remember Bombardier, Adnams Bitter and Broadside. There might have been a Woodfordes. It was a long night.