In our misspent youth, we used to love those little East End pubs where every saloon bar had a piano and where, every weekend, the regulars would come out dressed to the nines and sing for each other. Today, the 'joannas' have long gone and, in the case of the Old King John's Head, seem to have been replaced by karaoke kit, but something of the old East End spirit still remains. We stumbled in here on the evening of St. George's Day, just to get out of the cold, after getting lost looking for a particular Vietnamese restaurant on the nearby Kingsland Road. 'In-ger-land' flags were everywhere and we got some very suspicious and disconcerting looks from some of the very big guys sitting supping their lagers. 'Drink of England', Bombardier signs ironically decorated the bar, but there was no real ale to be found. It looked very desperate. But, we got chatting and quickly found the locals to be friendly, funny and quite philosophical, regarding themselves as the 'last east-enders' in an area changing out of all recognition to that of their parents' generation. The Old King John's Head might not offer much in terms of food or fare, but it's welcoming enough on a chilly evening and offers a glimpse into a slice of London life that's is disappearing. Oh, and the big guy running the karaoke really did have quite a good soul singing voice.
Reviewed by mr_mulliner
24 Apr 2010