Low prices and high spirits are the order of the day at this friendly, quirky City establishment.
The Old Kings Head juts out from the corner of Scrutton Road and Holywell Road, approaching Shoreditch and Old Street station but still in the shadow of the City’s skyscrapers. A distinctive green-tile exterior and bistrot-like outside seating area draw you in to the bar’s main room, an oddly-shaped and vaguely triangular space which allows for several cosy nooks and crannies, on any number of benches, chairs and a comfortable cream-coloured sofa. Despite the unusual lay-out, overcrowding isn’t usually a problem, and a large mirror on the far wall provides the illusion of depth. Customers usually congregate around the central wood-panelled bar, decked out with stools and blackboards, while copious windows provide plenty of natural illumination, supplemented by candlelight at sunset.
Somewhat of a hidden treasure, the Old Kings Head has justifiably received plaudits from local patrons for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere, exemplified by the lovely staff and customers. The latter usually originate from nearby offices and places of work, and echo the diversity and openness of nearby Brick Lane and Shoreditch, even if the average age is a little higher than elsewhere. Non-intrusive televised live sport, comfortable seating and upbeat music serve to consolidate the pub’s reputation as a fantastic, reclusive post-work hang-out.
Nourishing, tasty and relatively cheap, the menu at the Old Kings Head is a big hit with regulars. A failsafe list of “lunch specials” (£5 for lasagna, burgers and Ploughmans among others) is complemented during the evening shift by the ever-changing dish of the day, usually very affordable and extremely good value for money – steak and chips for £8 being a prime example. Add to that a selection of salads and sandwiches for as little as £2, and it’s safe to say that simple, satisfying food is a major ace up this venue’s sleeve.
As with the food menu, drinks at the Old Kings Head prove to be impervious to the “City prices” phenomenon. A double shot of house spirits comes to £2.50, and the wine list is similarly eye-catching in its quality-to-price ratio, with a decent glass of house white starting at £3.20, and bottles of prosecco available for £18.50. Aspalls, Fosters and Amstel (£3.20-£3.60 a pint) are among the draught and bottled lagers and ciders on offer.
The Last Word
With a friendly atmosphere and low prices to match its off-beat location and design, the Old Kings Head is a local pub that oozes panache, and is certainly worth a visit from further afield as well.