On our pub crawl round Leicester today, Pub Curmudgeon told me about an unfortunate incident near Ilford that necessitated a 2 night Premier Inn stay there. There’s worse hotels to get stuck in (the old Formule 1 for instance), but few more challenging places in London to be stuck.
At least in Dagenham you’ve got the creek, in East Ham there’s some of the UK’s most authentic south Asian food, and Barking has been architecturally revitalised in the last decade, for better or worse.
But Ilford ?
Cranes, row after row of terraced houses, fried chicken shops, old Wetherspoons. That would have been my recollection. Not a place you’d ever attempt to drive through, either.
But when the Good Book tells you to go to Ilford to an Irish bar called Jono’s selling two plain beers, you go.
It’s a town for the purist, it’s fair to say.
The civic “quarter”, if you can call it that, has a decent Town Hall and a strangely alluring Theatre complex that would be at home in Aberdeen.
Though fans of quirky shopfronts will find much to enjoy.
This is a roadside advert for a café;
And I think this one sells polar bears.
Not much for the pub connoisseur; in fact not much between the Olympic Stadium and the M25. The Ilford extract from WhatPub is particularly grim; just 5 real ale pubs for a vast area between Gants Hill and Barking, and that includes the Spoons.
Jono’s Bar is the type of authentic Irish bar you still get in London, but I wasn’t quite sure what accounted for its elevation to the Guide.
No doubt someone will ask me how I know it’s an Irish bar (the adjacent Dental Practice is the giveaway).
One of those thin shop conversions beloved of North-west London that’s a bit small for a Wetherspoons, and oddly reminiscent shapewise of the Murenger.
As promised, two beers on the bar, Tribute and Castle Rock, which was clearly the first pour of the day but arguably Beer Guide standard.
Proper music from Neil Young, and good banter, too.
“Those Germans are getting stronger and stronger”
“We need smaller pitches”
“‘Arry Kane – ‘ees on fire”
Decent beer and bants, but a stellar curry (offal of some description) in the cheap, cheery and mysteriously named Curry House. £6 with rice and salad. One for Dick and Dave’s next trip.
An interesting area with large Bulgarian and Romanian restaurants made this a good stroll, though I resisted a return visit to the only two other recent Beer Guide pubs
The classic Prince of Wales,
and the less than classic Spoons with its Prosecco fixation. Nice sculpture, though.
Ilford. Go for food. Go for Prosecco. Go for the polar bear.