In a prime location on Charlotte Street in Shoreditch, the Bricklayers Arms is one of the pillars of the beginnings of the East London scene.
The Bricklayers Arms can't have always looked like this. At some stage over the years it must have been given a refurbishment that has taken away its grimy, dusty appeal and replaced it with sterile red-washed youth club trappings. The venue certainly doesn't match the legend of a pub that once possessed so much credibility.
The bar is in front of you as you enter, surrounded by tacky, plasi-leather seating. One small step up and the back of the pub reveals more of the same. It has good looking glossy floorboards and the red lamps provide an element of personality, but it seems like the red paint buries the myth of the place. The second floor is really no better and the decor improves rapidly only as people begin to fill it up.
The jukebox is the first sign there is something to this pub. Bars that have jukeboxes already have a footing above those that don't, such is the joy of the opportunity to choose your own soundtrack. As people quickly file in after work, it's clear this is still a popular place. By the end of the night, it’s packed with a boisterous crowd. There is a sense of hedonism and the abandonment of the traditional English pattern of retiring home to the television after work on a week night. This could be due, in part, to the very European presence - the area is very diverse and the pub is a good representation of a different culture that thrives in London through such diversity.
The menu is dominated by Thai dishes, which are all £5.95 or £7.95 with a starter, which isn't bad value. There is also the ubiquitous homemade burger and plenty of sandwiches and salads to choose from. With food being such an important asset to pubs in terms of their business, one can see the reason for the attempts, but the idea of food doesn't seem to wholly sit well with the rest of the pub's credo.
The drink is on a par with the paint job here. There's a fairly sterile and bland selection for anybody that fancies something a little more exotic. San Miguel on draught is the eyebrow raiser, alongside Kronenbourg, Fosters and John Smiths. If just the raising of an eyebrow isn't enough for you and you're looking for more of a jaw dropping impact then look no further than the magnificent After Shock colours that beam down. All three colours!
The Last Word
This is certainly no restaurant and doesn't attract the crowds with its bar stock, but the people in the area definitely seem to like the Bricklayers Arms.