BY BILL LACY
I’d heard about this pub, but in a good-old-days kind of way, a hark back to when Deptford was a genuinely working-class community.
I knew it was still there, and recently finding myself nearby, a night to carve out on my own following a cancelled Christmas drink, I took the short train from London Bridge to Deptford.
What was I expecting? Either an old relic or a wood-fired pizza and craft beer place, perhaps serviced via an app.
But it was neither.
The pub is only about an eight minute walk from the station, but it takes you down side streets and back alleys and I started to wonder whether I had taken a wrong turn.
Then it appeared, a glorious sight, a shimmering red pub, lit up for Christmas, an urban oasis.
It seemed completely at odds with its housing estate surroundings, but the pub was here first, this site having been a hostelry for hundreds of years.
There were more lights in the red interior, creating a wonderful Christmassy atmosphere.
It managed to be both cosy and roomy at the same time, with plenty of space to sit in two clearly defined rooms.
The traditional bar served up an array of real ales, including choices from some smaller breweries.
In the fridges was a decent selection of Belgian beers, unusual outside of specialist Belgian bars.
They were obviously known for that – the barman asked a regular if he wanted his usual Belgian tipple, but it was “too early for that” so he settled for a smashing beer for a little brewery in Edenbridge, Kent.
I sat down on a table that had a reserved on it but was not to be occupied for a few hours, the sign of drinking in that in-between time of neither too early or too late.
On one side sat a grizzled regular, tucking into a wholesome, almost Irish-looking plate of food.
To my other side were some youngsters to whom the place seemed lost – they had a drink, ordered some chips, spoke about recent break-ups and then toddled off down the “job centre”, which I later realised is the name of an Antic pub down the road.
I was captured though. It reminded me a bit of those old-school central London pubs whose traditions – like the piano – are kept going partly because it is trendy an so tourists can feel like they are EastEnders.
But the Dog and Bell had a local, easy-going, genuine quality about it, which, combined with the quality beer and dreamy atmosphere, made me not want to leave for some time.
Dog and Bell, 116 Prince Street, Deptford SE8 3JD
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