Rose & Crown Refit

Stockwell St SE10

We were all a bit concerned when the Rose & Crown suddenly shut down a few months ago. Bitter experience has often seen such an event followed by a designer refit and a takeover from a well-known local chain, and some column inches both here and elsewhere were taken up with rumour and speculation as to what would happen to this much loved, gay-friendly boozer.

It re-opened a couple of weeks ago, but it’s taken me a little while to actually get there to test it out. Firstly, it absolutely, definitely isn’t Greenwich Inc, and it looks like it. They’ve made an effort – trendy wallpaper with floral designs and industrial 70s-esque lights hanging from the ceiling over the bar. But much hasn’t changed and actually this refit still leaves the pub ever-so-slightly un-hip, of which I approve. I don’t feel entirely comfortable in places that are so fashionable they set my teeth on edge, and this refit, though making a big effort, has managed to kept a quaintness that works.

Bombadier is the only ‘proper’ beer I could see – the choice isn’t fabulous – and despite the ENORMOUS framed chalk board with an initially sumptuous-looking wine list, a closer peek reveals that it really consists only of the Jacobs Creek / E&J Gallo variety – nothing at all out of the ordinary, which is a shame.

As I approached the newly spruced-up, but still traditional-feeling exterior (which does look good) it looked really full, though I quickly realised that of course it was going to be busy outside – that was where all the smokers go these days. I stepped inside, earning myself quite a look from Olivier seated opposite who clearly thought I was some kind of turncoat for not going into his establishment, and easily found a seat indoors.

It’s a pleasant, friendly sort of pub, and though the drink isn’t the best I’ve ever had, it was a nice enough place to while away some time before going to the cinema. But I have one concern.

While I was there, it seemed that the clientele had fundamentally changed. When I first arrived, there were only what looked like local teenagers drinking there. Plenty of them, but very obviously straight. Rather later I spotted one gay couple coming in, and there are a couple of posters in the loos advertising gay events, but I was surprised.

Tell me, folks. Is this still a mainly gay pub? And what do you think of the refit?

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