The Clarence Tavern | A born-again gastropub in Stoke Newington
The short story: The Clarence Tavern is a gastropub worth going to in Stoke Newington.
The long story…
Standing tall on Church Street – an all-encompassing street that you could easily dedicate a lazy day to – The Clarence Tavern has seen plenty in its time, considering ‘its time’ dates all the way back to the 1860s when it was first established. It’s grade-II listed and apparently, also the second oldest pub in the neighbourhood. In 2020, as its age was understandably showing, Rob Webster-Shaw and Jonathan Jones saw great potential and took it upon themselves to revive the pub. These two have history in making senior pubs feel young again, having also overhauled The Anchor & Hope and The Canton Arms to much success, and they’ve repeated the trick with The Clarence Tavern.
The space itself is split between a shop at the front (selling natural wines, local deli products like cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy, fresh fruit and veg, and coffee from Monmouth; one of London’s best coffee shops); a private dining room upstairs that’s a magnet for natural light with its large windows; a bar downstairs (home to 57 malts, yes, 57) and the main dining room. Here the team’s stripped away the old, dank carpets to reveal wooden flooring, the walls are either exposed brick or painted in pastel pink, and newly smart dark wood furniture has been placed in and given a good shine. Then there’s also the small matter of a beer garden out the back (which is actually not small: you can fit a few groups in here). While it gets more than its fair share of sun, it’s just as session-friendly in the winter when the heaters are wheeled out.
As with the team’s other old pub overhauls around London, food is rated as highly as the booze here. Harry Kaufman (who’s worked at St John Bread & Wine and Lyle’s in Shoreditch) has been brought in and his seasonal, European-inspired, ingredient-led and oft-changing menu is something to get excited about (it’s actually made The Clarence Tavern one of our favourite restaurants in Stoke Newington). Specials on the chalkboard might be monkfish wrapped in pancetta or sea trout with pink fir potatoes, while you can’t go wrong with a ‘shareable’ ox cheek and ale pie (there are always pies, but the flavours are subject to change) or a hulking plate of fall-apart lamb shoulder with dauphinoise potatoes. For dessert – if you can fit it in – take your pick from things like brown bread ice cream and a peach and almond tart, which comes with the caveat of having to ward off spoons from around the table.
Of course, being a gastropub, if you’ve come for the solace of a simple pint, there’s room for that too (no bookings for non-eaters, though). You won’t be disappointed by the range of local beers, but it’s also worth veering off into wine as the team have amassed a tidy list of naturals. Those are the ones where there’s been little to no intervention.
But that’s another story…
NOTE: The Clarence Tavern is open from Tues-Sun. They take bookings if you’re eating – those can be made here.
ALSO NOTE: Hankering for their food a bit closer to central? They’re also currently in residence at Kettner’s in Soho.
The Clarence Tavern | 102 Stoke Newington Church St, London N16 0LA
About that story… Read on for the best natural wine bars in London