Sunday 12 January 2014

Baring Hall Hotel, SE London

Last February me and The Lovely Jemma moved to the Mottingham/Eltham area, as it was the only vaguely affordable area in the wonderful property bubble that is London. The avid reader of my blog would know that I used to complain that there wasn't a lot of pubs near my house. The only decent place was the Park Tavern in Eltham, but it's just a bit too far away to warrant frequent visits. One particularly annoying thing about the area when we moved in was that there was a grand looking closed pub called the Baring Hall Hotel directly across the road from busy Grove Park station, a convenient twenty minute walk (or five minute bus ride) away from our house.

Photo from the Antic Website - which is why it's good quality!

Reading about the building online, the pub had been open until 2009 when it got fire-bombed. This isn't surprising as there isn't much to do in Grove Park except go to the Sainsburys Local and then set a pub on fire. The building stayed vacant until a developer twigged that a big patch of land opposite a train station with a journey time of fifteen minutes to London Bridge might be a good opportunity for flats. Luckily a plucky gang of campaigners stopped this from happening and while the building remained vacant at least it would still be a pub.

Shortly after we moved The Lovely Jemma embarked on a small email campaign to several pubcos to see if they wanted to take over the building. Some reported that they already had their eye on it, while others weren't interested. In desperation we even wrote to Wetherspoons. We figured a 'Spoons would be better than no community boozer at all. All seemed lost until I came across a tweet from a company called Antic saying they had agreed on the lease for the pub.

Being a North London lad I had never heard of Antic but reading online I could see they had opened a fair number of pubs in "less desirable" areas, e.g most of South East London. I'd actually been to a couple of their pubs and had enjoyed my time there so I was very pleased to hear I would have an Antic pub within stumbling distance of my home.

Well just under a year later the Baring Hall is now open and it would have been rude not to have paid a visit or three. Decor wise you can tell this place had been fire bombed and fire bombed good. I've only visited the pub after dark and with the candles on the tables and burnt out walls it's an eerie but oddly pleasant and comfortable atmosphere. I don't know how it holds up during the day but it's certainly atmospheric at night. The Lovely Jemma felt like she was in a pub from the computer game "Fallout 3" and had to restrain herself from accidentally picking up and dropping furniture and robbing the cash register by mistake.

Fallout 3. To be fair the Baring Hall is nicer and much more welcoming than this!
There are twelve handpumps which is brilliant for a pub that is the only real ale outlet in the area. I've enjoyed a few beers here. Highlights include Saltaire's Triple Chocoholic which is a tremendous beer that is like drinking a boozy chocolate fudge cake. Great stuff. I also tried a Tiny Rebel Zool as I was overcome with computer game nostalgia, a cheap but effective trick from Tiny Rebel to lure in those young, trendy craft beer drinking hipsters. It was a decent, light and hoppy sup. On my latest visit I was pleased to see they had a Magic Rock beer on cask, which you don't often see in London. High Wire NZ was good but not in the best form, perhaps it lost something on the journey down from Yorkshire. It was lacking the big hoppy finish it had the last time I tried it.

I was initially hesitant to write about this pub as it's early days and it's not quite ready yet - there are plans to serve food and presumably the place is going to be redecorated. But with the excellent selection of well kept beers on offer I would recommend a visit if you're in the area. If the standard stays the same I think this has a very good chance of becoming a destination real ale pub for the SE London area.


  1. Very nice pub. Shabby sheik at its best.
    £7.80 for two real ale's though....ouch.
    Nice decor, music, staff.

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