BY BILL LACY
As George Orwell once wrote, what was most appealing about his ideal pub was “what people call its ‘atmosphere’”.
The East Dulwich Tavern, or the “EDT” as it is affectionately known, is an “atmospheric” pub, and I even felt this when I was once in here as a lone customer, a few years ago when for a forgotten reason I found myself waiting in Lordship Lane for something or someone in the witching hour before noon.
The EDT is part of the Antic pub group, and possibly a flagship pub in its collection. Antic pubs are quite distinctive, such that it creates that urge among some people (such as myself) to tick off as many as possible, even (especially) if that requires a special trip.
Perhaps that it why I found myself there that morning. Antic pubs, spread across around 50 pubs mainly in South London, are sometimes opinion-dividers; the “nan’s living-room” chic of some of their venues can do that.
But the EDT achieves the charm without going too far. It’s well-furnished with comfortable and stylish seating in its attractive bar area. It fuses cosiness with spaciousness. Located in an enviable corner on the East Dulwich side of Lordship Lane, it is a deservedly popular pub.
Not all Antic’s pubs have reopened, but the EDT has, and it is great to see Antic’s enthusiasm and good-humour in promoting its reopened venues during these times – on its website it muses on the ‘does a scotch egg constitute a substantial meal?’ debate.
I even once looked at the EDT as a potential wedding venue; there is an upstairs room that I once looked around in about March, still with the Christmas decorations up, which somehow added to the charm.
We ended up choosing somewhere else that wasn’t a pub, but if it had to be a pub it would have been this one.
Escaping a relative you were obliged to invite by a strategic visit to the downstairs bar would have worked wonders.
The choice here is good, with some excellent beers showcasing London’s young breweries in particular, such as Mondo, Peckham, Gipsy Hill and, of course, Antic’s exclusive supplier Volden (brewing currently unfortunately paused during the pandemic).
When I wasn’t in there on my own, I used to love walking into the pub fully heaving with customers.
It’s the kind of place where a throng is uplifting rather than inconvenient. Perhaps those days are over.
The EDT have reportedly a good system in place for welcoming customers back in a way that is compliant with the new regulations, which is the best anyone can do for now.
At least we can still enjoy the place while sitting down.
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