Following a change of hands and complete renovation last year, The People’s Park Tavern (formerly The Britannia) has received mixed reviews. Venue and space-wise, it’s one of Hackney’s best, no question; however some of its punters commented the service they received didn’t quite hit the mark. Keen to iron out any issues, there’s now a new management team in place, promoting friendly staff, quick service and more craft beers on tap than you could shake a thirsty hipster at. In a happy coincidence (for me), I only live around the corner, and this pub is my local. I hadn’t had the chance to visit since the new team have been running the show, so selflessly, I went on over to stuff my face with food and beer, all in the name of research.
From the onsite micro-brewery to the quirky beer garden, they have plenty of space to play with - but you’ll notice pretty quickly they don’t waste a single inch of it. Befitting for small or large groups, the interiors feature hanging industrial lighting and exposed brickwork, with the copper pipes of the brewery always in sight. Voted by the DMN public as London’s Best Beer Garden, the outside space is the star of the show and backs out directly onto Victoria Park. Out there, you'll find a massive splattering of picnic benches, a separate bar serving snacks and frozen margaritas, and a dozen Mexican-styled heated huts for smaller groups. Though it’s most definitely in full swing come the summer, the beauty is that with the heaters and smouldering fire-pit, you can enjoy the garden in the colder months too.
The Food & Drink
It’s really refreshing to see a hearty, but leftfield food offering at the People’s Park Tavern. The outside summer shack serves up punchy snacks and cocktails, but the main bar promises a relatively inventive menu featuring ox cheek, lamb’s tongue and mussels – basically much more than you’d expect from your average Hackney watering hole. Presented with such a refined choice, naturally, I opted for the burger. But not just any burger, ‘The People’s Cheeseburger’ no less. Served with hand cut chips and the chef’s own special BBQ sauce recipe (delicious), it really hit the spot and might just give some of London’s gourmet burger pop-ups a run for their money. Keen to try something other than the burger, I passive-aggressively ensured my date ordered something else on the menu I could nibble on. After a standoff, they went for the ox cheek. Luckily for the evening’s atmosphere they loved it; it was ‘well-cooked, solid gastro grub’ in their words.
Along with the rest of East London, I’ve been known to favour the odd pint of craft beer and real ale; so I was spoilt for choice at the PPT. They brew their own, but also have a selection of guest beers on tap too, including nods to the Camden and London Fields Breweries.
It’s tricky to judge the atmosphere here based on just one night; I visited on a Wednesday during their quiz, but we sat outside in one of the huts to eat. It wasn’t a particularly warm evening, but the heaters and fire-pit were blasting, so we stayed out there most of the night. In the summer months, the garden is completely buzzing. They open the doors out onto the park, and all the tables are full – it’s a really nice vibe, and one that’s quite hard to find elsewhere in London, as most places just don’t have the space. It’s a little more relaxed inside, but there’s always a warm buzz, and plenty of places to sit down. Though not a place you’d come to dance, it’s a great spot for boozy evenings or a couple of daytime pints.
I was a big fan of the Britannia, but also love the changes that were made to the garden and interiors – so I was really hoping to have a good experience on my visit. And I definitely did. The garden is amazing – that’s not in question, you really won’t find anything else like it in London – but the pub itself is a genuinely nice place to visit, too. It fronts unique beers, tasty grub and everything you’d want out of a comfortable-but-cool hangout. They’ve obviously taken on board the criticism they received in the past, as the staff were lovely, the service was quick and the whole experience was great. Good pubs are hard to come by, especially in zone 2, so The People’s Park Tavern is well worth a visit whether you’re in the area or not.