Salmon and Ball glares over Bethnal Green tube station with an evil eye. Like a rough port city, it offers a harbour to the underworld of the underground and beyond.
The crowded pavement in front of Salmon and Ball is the first sight that greets you; not just customers sneaking out to smoke but rabble, secret Super Tennants drinkers and Big Issue venders. All very salt of the earth but not particularly welcoming.
Inside, the walls are stained beige and the size is deceptive due to the mirrors. A big screen hangs proudly in the corner, with an ability to draw in a football crowd and match days get fairly packed out. Small bench chairs, stools and high tables provide rests for yourself and your drinks and black and white photos decorate the walls, featuring boxers from the past. The images lend the pub a level of class that is betrayed by the rest of the gritty interior.
At the Salmon and Ball, a shaved head or mean look isn't mandatory but, judging by the crowd, it is preferred - presumably the infinity mirrors might be included for novice hard nuts to work on their nefarious complexions. There is a kind of simmering that seems to bubble within the pub and it has a knack of reminding you of what it felt like to stare through the windows of pubs as a youngster and see an exotic but dangerous looking place inside. The atmosphere isn't all bad, however, and there is a fraternal feeling to things during the football.
It's all predictably standard. The Salmon and Compass is a type of pub that doesn't need to import to impress. Perhaps the only interesting thing to say is the famously aggravating Stella might inspire some to attempt to emulate the photos on the walls.
The Last Word
Salmon and Ball is fairly wretched and best left to those that already drink here. It's regularly packed and probably won't miss the custom.