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Friday, 31 July 2015

The Chesham Arms, Homerton

Three cheers for Andy Bird! Why? Because the co-owner of two of London's key cocktail bars  - Original Sin and Happiness Forgets - has only gone and prised an endangered taphouse from the snapping jaws of voracious predators. Bewitching clueless councillors with their promise of 'elegant urban village living', Public (house) Enemy No.1, the evil property developers, contrive to knock down London's built heritage faster than I can knock back No 3. gin martinis - (i.e. alarmingly quick). I weep buckets for the thousands of London boozers lost to these sharks and scheisters. In a small victory for Canute against the cnuts, in Mehetabel Road E9, the developers' loss is this close-knit enclave's gain. With its replanted lawned beer garden, The Chesham is now a fine community asset, the focal point of a handsome grid of chocolate box-perfect Victorian terraces. Bird's painstakingly collated salvaged furnishings - the bar's polished ash counter found on Gumtree and shipped from a defunct Derbyshire tavern; tuffet stools last produced circa Lonnie Donegan; an old Joanna for Mehetabel's answer to Mrs. Mills  - restores the Arms to how it probably looked around the same time Ena Sharples and Elsie Tanner first traded port and lemon-fuelled insults in another wee local up North. My nostalgia for pubs past doesn't, of course, extend to a fondness for warm Watney's beer, sickly Spanish Sauternes or luncheon meat slapped between two stale slices of Mother's Pride - standard issue in 1960 when God help the boy that dared to order a Babycham in any East End tavern...unless his name was Ronnie, the gay Kray. The born-again Chesham's pours include sterling stuff from Dark Star and Five Points; Salopian’s award-winning bitter, Darwin’s Original; classy, affordable, French vino and a great G and T or a Bloody Mary that's bigged up by Bird, not at all subjectively, as “London’s best.” Ditto, pork pie and other trad bar snacks, the only food on offer pending the autumn addition of a kitchen. “I loathe ‘gastropubs’ that flog bought-in lamb shank for £15 a pop” rails an angry Bird, promising a from-scratch plat du jour, quality charcuterie and cold cuts. Atta boy, Andy! Now, go support your local... while you still can!
15 Mehetabel Road E9 6DU 0793 695517