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PubSpy reviews the Amersham Arms in New Cross
TAKE Courage, I was told as the lurid, red sign on the front of the Amersham Arms loomed over me menacingly.
As regular readers will know it would take a little more than that to get PubSpy through the afternoon.
Renowned for its club nights and live gigs, the boozer’s exterior seemed a little world-weary and combined with the onslaught of autumn drizzle, I must admit I was worried.
A painter was even replacing the bright splashes of paint on the frontage with a sombre grey.
I entered to find it completely empty apart from a friendly barmaid with a beaming smile.
Like a shining beacon amongst the gloom I gravitated towards her and ordered a Stowford Press (£3.80), hoping it would be restorative.
Then I made the mistake of asking about food.
“We have Smokey Bacon Crisps and Wasabi peas.”
“Oh. I came here once for a really great roast.”
“We’re actually having our kitchen renovated at the moment so we’re going to launch a new menu. Soon. We’re down to our last packet of crisps.”
Her friendliness softened the blow but the scarcity of food was a blow nonetheless.
I would just have to get drunk instead.
Immediately after being handed my drink I tried to go through a door to the bigger part of the pub but it was shut.
“We close that up for most of the daytime – because there’s no one else here.”
I regained my composure (PubSpy is nothing if not resilient) and took a seat and things started to look up when a pair of floppy-haired scruffians loped in.
Throughout my visit, in fact, the only other customers were strapping, young men and I even thought my luck had come in when one of them shot me a kindly smile.
However he left shortly so it may have come from pity because I was sitting there alone with my coat still on (it was a bit draughty).
The barmaid also sent some enthusiastic smiles my way and even said goodbye when I left.
Having visited in the day I would say it is more of an evening pub –the gothic gloom would be atmospheric as opposed to poky- but there is no doubt, this is a great pub.
With a grand Victorian interior full of colourful band posters and music magazines, there is a friendly atmosphere and a rough-and-ready feel which made me feel like a student again.
There is also a pleasing hint of debauchery and feeling warmed by the beatific smiles of strangers and a splash of cider on an empty stomach, I vowed to return for an evening visit for more cider and scruffians.
388 New Cross Rd London, Greater London SE14 6TY
How it rated:
Decor: ***** Grand, atmospheric and Jack Daniels bottles filled with bright, fake flowers added to the sense of gothic drama
Drink: *** Good choice
Price: ** Bit pricey
Atmosphere: **** Quiet and laidback in the day but I suspect is rowdy when the sun goes down
Staff: ***** Lovely
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