Carpenters Arms, E2 6EG
- 020 7739 6342
- 73 Cheshire Street, E2 6EG
- 4pm-11:30pm Mon-Thu; noon-12:30am Fri-Sat; noon-11:30pm Sun
This, as many accounts attest, was a pub intimately linked with the Kray twins in the middle part of the 20th century (a small painting of them in the pub references this), in an area which still boasts many crumbling facades and derelict sites, but increasingly overtaken by the designer shops spreading from Shoreditch. Having been closed for a while the Arms was reopened in 2007.
Outside, some of the original signage remains, and the frosted windows allow only discreet glimpses in. However, it's quite different inside, beautifully restored, and a great range of beers, wines and spirits. There is a main room with a couple of large tables alongside the bar, and some other tables at the front. A few more seats in the corridor towards the back, and then a smaller room next to a little beer garden, in each of which a few tables are laid out.
The atmosphere is relaxed on a Sunday evening. Music is playing, but not very loudly at all. Considering this is close to Shoreditch, there is no sense of exclusivity or fashion-based prejudice. Bar staff are friendly, as are the people drinking in here.
The ales on handpull on visits in 2008 and 2009 are Adnams Bitter, Adnams Oyster Stout and a well-kept Landlord (£3/pint), much the same as in August 2007 (but with Regatta instead of Oyster). They also have Aspall cider, as well as Bitburger (£3.30/pint), Licher Weizen, San Miguel, Meantime Pale Ale, and a few other draught lagers. They appear to have a particularly good selection of whiskies, plenty of bottled beers, as well as an extensive wine list chalked out on a board.
Bar snacks are pistachio nuts (£1) and olives (£2). A chalkboard lists more food available, and on a Sunday evening this included chips (£2.80), mixed salad (£2.90) and a variety of platters at £6.50 each (French cheese board, cured meat board, or mixed board). Ewan and Jo found the chips to be excellent thin and hand-cut, served with mayonnaise and ketchup on the side. The mixed salad was likewise very nice, with a simple dressing and well-presented, and not overwhelmed by lettuce. The French cheese board presented five different cheese (a goat's cheese, a brie, two harder cheeses, and a blue cheese), along with some slices of pear and a bowl of crusty French bread and butter, of a good quality.
Sunday roasts are advertised as available from 1-5pm on Sunday (the meat one £13.50, and the vegetarian option £8.50).