Friday, 1 June 2007

The Royal Albert

I have been frequenting this pub, which is on New Cross Road at the bottom of Florence Road, on a fairly regular basis ever since it rose from the ashes of what used to be the Paradise Bar.

When I first moved to the area, probably 20 years ago now, I used to come and see bands at the Paradise Bar, which was essentially a rather scruffy pub with blacked out windows and a stage. Some of the bands were excellent, many were fairly good, and a few were appalling. In the last years of its existence as a music venue, it seemed to go downhill quite rapidly and I hadn't been much at all in the few years before its final demise.

But last year it was reborn as the Royal Albert, and it was quite a revelation on visiting it for the first time to realise that many of the fine old features had been there all along, they had just been obscured by the stage or the darkness.

The front windows are magnificent - large and generously curved; the bar still retains a lot of its Victorian grandeur, and the old pillars have lovely decorated capitals. The new owners (who also own the East Dulwich Tavern, among other pubs) have painted it in stately tones of olive, avocado and such like, and populated it with a jumble of auction room furniture and pictures, some amusing, some frankly awful. As a whole, however, it creates a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.

In the winter it could seem quite gloomy (or you might just as well say 'cosy') but now, with the lighter nights, the area behind the bar where there is a large skylight, has really come into its own. What's more it's non-smoking (not that that will make any difference in less than a month - HURRAH!)

The range of drinks on offer is good, if rather pricey. They usually have a couple of real ales on (albeit regulars like Youngs and Landlord); they have various continental lagers, cider and strawberry-flavoured lager (don't ask me why). My only gripe would be that their rose wine offering is the rather unsophisticated Rose d'Anjou - when there are so many great roses around these days, why pick something that reminds me of being 15?

Best of all, they have just started doing food! This has been promised since well before christmas, but has finally been introduced in the last month or so. Tonight Flash 'Arry and I decided to sample the menu, as an alternative to our other local - the Dog & Bell (some other time...).

They offer a small range of sandwiches, a soup, and about 10 or 12 main courses ranging from shepherd's pie to homemade haddock & prawn fishcake, or tuna steak, as well as homemade burgers. There are a couple of unusual veggie options too - and most priced at between £7 and £9 for a main course.

Flash had the burger and I sampled the fishcake, which came on spinach, with a creamy parsley sauce. Both were huge, evidently hand-shaped, and delicious. Everything is cooked in the kitchen area at the back, which is open to view - in fact it's practically part of the pub itself. Next time I intend to leave room for pudding!

All in all, a welcome addition to the area's eating/pubbing establishments. At the moment it tends to get quite smokey in the front area, but this will not be a problem soon. Oh, and refreshingly free of Sky!!!!

17 comments:

Andrew Brown said...

We've been there a few times and enjoyed the atmosphere.

The eclectic furniture helps give the sense of a relaxed place to spend an evening. And we seemed to find enough space for our (quite) big group without bumping into other groups too much.

Adam said...

I've not been since the Paradise Bar days (Lorna used to live a short walk away, and her and her mates would go see bands there quite a lot.)

Might be worth a re-visit.

Anonymous said...

next blogger meet up there parhaps?

Jon said...

I love the Royal Albert - almost everything about it is perfect, from the ales to the eclectic lampshade collection. I want more pubs like this!

Does anyone know what is happening to the Amersham Arms up the road? I hear it is closing to be refurbed? I hope they don't take the life out of that place...

Knit Nurse said...

Yes Jon, I didn't mention the lampshades because I thought it was just me who noticed them! They are truly fab!

Reidski said...

20 years ago it was definitely the Royal Albert. This was when I first moved into the area from Jockland and would go in here to see bands. Not been in it for around 15 years - in fact, ever since it became the Paradise Bar. Passed it while driving on Friday night and was pleasantly surprised that it looks like a normal boozer again. I think I'll visit sometime soon.

Knit Nurse said...

Thanks Reidski

nice to know about its history - so the change to the Paradise Bar probably only predates my arrival in London by a few years.

bob said...

Is the East Dulwich Tavern taking over the whole of South London?

Knit Nurse said...

Bob, EDT has got a long way to go to catch up with INC, which owns most of the pubs in Greenwich town centre

Daybeam said...

I know it's been a while since this blog was updated but I was searching for 'The Royal Albert' on Yahoo when I came across it. I used to use the pub regularly in the early eighties to see bands; there were some fine local bands in those days! I was trying to contact a memeber of a band called 'Rubber Johnny' who played there regularly from 1982 - 85 (ish). I have a picure I can post of them in there - should anyone be interested - which shows the decor in those days when all the walls were covered in murals!

dave said...

I was the trumpet player in the original Rubber Johnny that played a Friday night residency at |The Royal Albert for 3 years 1978-1981. The singer was an actor from The Albany Empire named John Turner and the band came from the theatre group there after it was burnt down in 1978 by the National Front (we re-built it in 3 months). It was a great time for live pub music in DEptford and I would be intrigued to see the photo you have DAybeam.

Daybeam said...

Hello Dave, I remember you! You and John (Hunt?) were the brass section... I've about twenty photos taken over two different nights which I'd be quite happy to scan in and share. I don't know if photos can be posted on this site but if anyone wants to see them contact me through steve.golton@btinternet.com for starters.

Daybeam said...

I've uploaded the photos to Flickr at the following address:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/16829173@N02/?saved=1

If anyone from the band would like to get in touch, I'd love to hear what they're all doing now!
Regards
Steve

Anonymous said...

Amazing pics. I was probably there too. Used to live in New Cross Road and new John via flatmates who worked at the Albany Theatre. John Turner, if your reading this it's Dave Donnell, flatmate to Caroline from the early 80's. Try me at pandakebab@gmail.com if you're still around. What an amazing catch-up that would be!! Peace.

Anonymous said...

I played in the Albert several times between 1984-'87 with a band called Barflies. Pat ran the place then, I can't remember his wife's name, but the place was always packed when we played there. Would like to visit there for a pint one day, but I haven't been to that area of London since those days and I'm not likely to anytime soon. Great, great memories.

Sal said...

I was a huge Barflies fan and used to follow the band all around South London. Still have some treasured tape cassettes Angelo gave me at their final gig at the Royal Albert, I was emigrating to Calgary the next day! Fantastic memories!!

blogian said...

Just came across your blog and pleased to be reminded of the old Royal Albert. I used to drink there in the early 70s when in the 6th form, I think it became a Watneys pub. I lived in an attic room about 3 houses up in Florence Road for a while. I remember the murals well, I think they depicted, among other things, including a guy in a tall hat pissing in a doorway, the music hall that had been across the road. No bands there at the time but I think there was a bar billiard table. In the 80s I was often there at the weekend and remember Rubber Johnny when the stage was at the back of the pub, and many other fantastic bands too. I haven't been back since it became the Paradise Bar