Positioned on the corner of North Cross Road and Crystal Palace Road, and just along from Lordship Lane, The Actress takes a prominent place in residential East Dulwich and is evidentially popular among those nearby.
The pub is L-shaped with a classic bar surrounded by stalls at the centre. To the right, and on match days, a screen is pulled down and seats arranged around it for sports viewing. To the left, an open kitchen with a wood-fired pizza oven takes pride of place. ‘Please remember they’re chefs not supermodels’ is emblazoned on the wall above, a reassuring line on authenticity over pretension. This seems emblematic of the whole pub. For example, staff wear casual clothes in no uniform colour or style, and the look of good-quality leather in terracotta-tan and bar stalls in saturated pastels reaffirms the pub’s easy going feel. With coffee on sale, sports on the big screen, and child-friendly food, it seems all are welcome at The Actress.
Between 2pm and 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, the mixed clientele is exposed. At first, Fleet Foxes and David Gray play beneath a hubbub of under-fives being fed by East Dulwich mummies and daddies, and the odd glug of a single man with a pint. However, when sport kicks off, the roars and applause ring out, with the projector screen dominating the right-hand side of the pub. Punters administering MatchPint on their iPhones appear from nowhere, and gentle family chatter is disrupted. The pub’s focus shifts from family haven to the sports fan’s territory. However, ‘Sail Away With Me’ can still just about be heard on the other side of the room, and the overall atmosphere is still some steps away from being consumed by the sound of stereotypically boisterous sports fans geared up for a game (this is still genteel East Dulwich, after all). Regardless of reason, everyone seems satisfied.
The pub offers a decent collection of all the usual suspects: wines, beers and spirits, as well as coffees. The Florence brewpub in Herne Hill helps them out with their cask ales, and currently The Actress’ guest ales and ciders include Broadside, Truman's Runner and St Edmunds. The selection of drinks is pleasing, but nothing is offered in the way of cooked bar snacks.
The Last Word
The Actress aims to be warm and welcoming – and this it certainly succeeds in doing. From the tall windows stretching across both sides of the venue that snug up the pub on a fortuitously sunny day, to the open fire pizza oven, comfortable soft furnishings, and the warm welcome from bar staff (where possible), it’s an easy pub to spend time in, and it seems that’s just what many locals do.