As a now-regular haunt for me, I've been meaning to write about the Job Centre pub for some time. It has comfortably found its place in my social life, being sufficiently convenient that I can just drop in for a pint at early doors, and close enough that I can roll home without much bother if I end up staying for 'just one more'.
As with many of Antic's pubs it's a work in progress, and every time I went for the first couple of months I noticed one or two improvements. The most important - addition of the kitchen - still hasn't happened yet but we are regularly assured it won't be long.
Until then I'm happy to go for the beer alone - it's well chosen and well kept, there is always a selection of two or three available. Usually it's properly poured and topped up without the need to request it. As well as local brews such those from the Brockley Brewery, there have been several from Portobello Brewery and even one of my favourite out-of-town brews, Jaipur from Thornbridge. I always have to remember that more than one pint of the latter is not a good idea however, since is has the lethal combination of high ABV and the innocent, subtle flavour of something much weaker.
A lot has been written about Antic's choice of moniker for the pub - I would have preferred the Labour Exchange if I'm honest; while I don't have a problem with them naming the pub after what formerly occupied the building, I reckon giving it a more archaic name might have reduced the ammunition for those who think it was in bad taste.
That being said, the Job Centre was closed several years ago, despite protests from local people and a campaign run by the PCSU. The building has been empty/squatted/used by an art collective on a short-term lease ever since then, and it's great to have a new business that brings people to the high street in the evenings.
I'm personally very happy to have a new pub on the high street - not only does it double the number of such establishments in the high street, it also means there's one I actually want to patronise now.
All the guff that has been written about it being a hipster joint is nonsense - I'm a regular customer and every time I go in there I see one or other of the locals, from shop keepers and market stall holders to former regulars at the Royal Albert who now have a more convenient watering hole. It does have its share of moustachioed scooter-toting customers but no more than anywhere else, including Deptford's most famous old-school pub, the Dog & Bell.
It has a pretty spacious interior and the tables and chairs actually seem less shabby and a bit more stable than those in some of Antic's other establishments. They have DJs playing records (yes, proper records!) most nights; after a slightly shaky start they seem to have got the volume sorted out.
The back yard - it cannot in all honesty be referred to as a garden - is now more or less tidy and clean, and there's half a dozen picnic tables out there, one under a gazebo, for the smokers.
Once the kitchen is up and running I look forward to checking out the menu - I have tested the pork pies and piccalilli and found the current offer a little wanting. My discerning taste in pickles is the stuff of legend, let's be honest, so I am eagerly anticipating the time when I can feast on warm, home-baked sausage rolls* with something a bit more challenging on the side than Haywards preserves.
*Updated: almost as soon as I published this post I heard that my feedback to the management about the pork pies had been heeded, and that they are now shipping in sausage rolls from the Albert. Hopefully still warm. I'll be heading down there in a peckish state in the near future to check them out.