The Pilot London Pub, by tube, boat & cable car
68 River Way
020 8858 5910
One of the only pubs in London accessible by tube, boat and cable car, The Pilot is located in North Greenwich – a stone’s throw from the O2 Arena. Also handily close-by are London City Airport, Canary Wharf and the ExCel London Exhibition Centre.
In the 1980 film, The Long Good Friday, the gangland boss Harold Shand (played by the wonderful, and sadly missed, Bob Hoskins), had a bold vision of the capitals future redevelopment, as he saw it. Journeying up river, in the direction of Greenwich, he spoke excitedly of ….’a new London’, however I don’t think even he could have quite envisaged how much of the present day riverside would be transformed. The area around the 02 Arena is perhaps the most extreme example of a 21st century London lunar landscape. Modern, multi-coloured buildings thrust vertically into this reinvented future of concrete walkways, shiny chrome and innovative water features, with The Dome siting like a giant plastic spider at the centre of its web. Where once cranes stood, lifting produce off ships from all over the globe, now we have a huge looming cable car spanning the river, thus completing this rather H G Wellsian scene.
However, a mere 10 minute stroll from this brave new future, and ending at a very pleasant grass and tree festooned area, is the wonderfully traditional looking Pilot Inn, one of the city’s oldest watering holes. Once known in the 1800’s as ‘The Ceylon’, the Pilot Inn, with its soft yellow London stock brick and rendered facade comes as a welcome relief to the weary traveller looking for traditional pub values but with a sympathetic and innovatively modern interior. Once inside, we were warmly greeted by the Manager Stiofan Brady, and the friendly bar staff, I instantly found the ambiance welcoming and relaxing.
The interior design scheme is great. Modern punchy colour and pattern, but with many traditional nautical touches, fuse together beautifully, this is no ordinary gastropub identikit. It’s all about flair and individuality and this extends to the wonderful upstairs accommodation. We were shown a fabulous room, atmospheric and inviting with deep coloured walls, traditional brightly coloured tropical bird prints and current strongly modern fabrics. Wonderfully done, and with a lovely view of grass through the window one could be fooled into thinking that we were in the country.
In fact, I’m going to pull a few strings, and next time Beyonce’s playing a gig locally I’ll recommend that she should forget the west end, jump in a cab for a minute or so and stay here if she wants an experience of how skilfully old and new London can blend. Apologies, I’m getting rather carried away, so back to reality.
For our meal we chose to sit almost in the garden. This is only possible as a large dining area is open all along one end, providing a very pleasant eating environment practically in the open air, a rather lovely setting. Our waitress was friendly, charming and helpful when describing the Specials and interesting range of beers. I had a Sipsmith and my companion, from GB, had a Fullers.
Our food choices were the Spring Lamb, which was, apparently, excellent (and quite local)
and I the Pie of the Day, which was Chicken. My pie was excellent, beautifully presented on a long wooden board and served with green and white asparagus as well as roast potatoes and carrots. Delicious.
For pudding I opted for a rather wonderful warm Chocolate Brownie, vanilla ice cream with raspberry & white chocolate popcorn. I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure about the pop-corn, but it was unusual for sure.
GB opted for the Cheese selection which by all accounts hit the spot, and was so generous he was unable to eat it all.
A finish of coffee rounded off our meal nicely and we departed having had a most enjoyable time. I would thoroughly recommend a visit to anyone, a seamless blend of old and new London for tourists and traditionalist alike perhaps. Harold Shand would surely approve.
Man About Town.
68 River Way
020 8858 5910