A useful port of call for City commuters, this charismatic post-war pub is small but friendly, with a not-inconsiderable drinks list.
The East India Arms is an old-fashioned pub steeped in history, yet conveniently located near the centre of the City. Located on Fenchurch Street, a stone’s throw from the station of the same name, it is recognizable first and foremost by its overhanging shades which protect smokers and outside drinkers from the elements. Inside, space is certainly finite but there is room to manoeuvre at all but the busiest times – the premises consist of one fairly small room, although toilets can be found downstairs and there is an antique spiral staircase behind the bar leading to the off-limits floor above. You get the impression that, a few large TVs aside, not much has changed in the bar for decades, with frosted windows looking out on to the street, gilded frames covering most of the walls space and mirrors with patriotic slogans and crests providing decoration. The old-fashioned bar is decked out in bunting and brass fittings, and sports an attractive hedgerow on top of the overhead glass storage area.
With not much room to sit or even stand, the East India Arms doesn’t make for a street-savvy HQ on a night out; instead, it relies on a heavy flow of commuters and businessmen (it is mainly men) en route to their various destinations, and closes at weekends. That doesn’t mean it’s unpleasant: the atmosphere is generally very friendly, and the tradition and history of the venue are almost palpable. Unlike many chain pubs nearby the East India Arms refuses to pander to the clientele with unnecessary frills, and in doing so gains a certain character that money can’t buy.
For such a traditional pub, the selection of lagers is distinctly continental – no bad thing, of course, with Oranjeboom, Asahi and San Miguel leading the line at around £3.50 a pint. Having said that, a very British range of ales is on constant rotation as well, as well as a useful gamut of spirits and wines (the latter an interesting option at roughly £3.40 a glass). The bar should have what you need, outlandish cravings excepted.
The Last Word
Compact and welcoming, this age-old pub has character in spades, although you might not want to spend a whole evening there.