The Nags Head is a village local in E17. It has an easy amiability, it’s a hub of local activity, the real ale is splendid and the pub events are surprisingly plentiful.
The Nags Head is located in the historic conservation area of Walthamstow Village, an area graced by the fine medieval St Mary’s church and pleasing 16th and 18th century almshouses. Situated in Orford Road, the pub is surrounded by a lively mix of restaurants, delis and speciality shops.
It’s been going strong since Tudor times and the present 1857 building retains many old features. Internally, it has one large open area comfortably furnished with upholstered settles and wooden fittings. At the front is an open space that has several benches. The prime physical attraction of the Nags Head, however, is the expansive paved garden. This has a central palm tree and is marvellously equipped with a Pergotenda all-weather awning. This is heated and lit so can be used most weeks of the year.
One of the landlords Roger Carter is a former London cabbie who has all the wit and affability of the best professionals in that trade, while landlady Flossie and their staff greet all customers with smiles and good humour.
Many events take place and these are remarkably varied to suit different interests: there’s pilates and belly dancing classes, book and history clubs, even life drawing lessons. You can also catch live jazz on Sunday evenings courtesy of a five-piece group, the Stowaways.
The pub introduced a Mamma Mia Italian kitchen in February 2012 which has proved a great success. Its dishes include delicious pizza offerings, plus a range of starters, mains and a tiramisu dessert. There’s also a variety of daily specialities which can include sea bass fillets and pasta dishes
Properly kept and properly served, the Nags Head’s real ale has sold in growing volumes year on year. The quality is recognised by an annual listing in the Campaign For Real Ale’s Good Beer Guide. There are always six beers on handpump. Unusually and happily one of these is a dark mild - Mighty Oak of Maldon’s Oscar Wilde. Other East Anglian micros featured include Brentwood, Crouch Vale, Harwich and Nethergate, while you may also find beers from Brodie’s, Hobgoblin and St Austell.
The wine list is provided by noted merchants, Hallgarten Druitt. A primitivo and a zinfandel are available and the choice is so good that regular monthly wine tastings are always fully booked. Malt whiskies are also well represented with Jura and Bruichladdich particular favourites.
The Last Word
There’s always a friendly village buzz in the Nags Head. It’s a real life Bull of Ambridge in E17.