Pub of the month, February 2017 – Mason and Co

A quiet month for pub trips, with just a handful to choose from. There are a few not to choose from as well, including a dull Marstons pub with a badly kept pint and a hit and miss burrito.

A few trips to Leicester (comedy festival as usual) and one of these resulted in our first candidate for pub of the month, The Landsdowne (Orange Tree). We’d been there before, but not for a few years, so there is no MOFAD visit recorded. It’s going to be our new pre-show dining pub, as we have abandoned The Marquis Wellington after our last visit.

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A good local pint and a decent chicken burger, so we’ll definitely be back.

A couple of trips to 2016’s pub of the year, The Needle & Pin, this month. One was for a pizza and a pint after watching T2: Trainspotting, and the other was the lovely dark beer night, where we enjoyed dark beers and some tasty cheeses, and other sweet and savoury nibbles. My favourite match was an extra smoky brisket from over the road at the Hog Stop, matched with Beavertown Smog Rocket smoked porter.

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So, we move on to the winner, Mason & Co at Here East in Hackney Wick. This is located just next to the former Olympic broadcast centre from 2012, right down by the River Lee Navigation. On a lovely summer’s day you could sit out and watch canal boats drifting by. In February, you need to stay indoors.

London 2012 was a big success. Cast your mind back to Wednesday 6th July 2005. London beat Paris to host the 2012 Olympics. This led to 7 years of cheap jokes, cynicism and classic British self-deprecation.

From Danny Boyle’s wonderful opening ceremony, through to great performances from athletes and the concept of “Olympic legacy”, this part of East London has been transformed. They’ve still not finished, as you’ll spot on the walk here from Stratford International station. Loads more building work still going on and it’s going to be a few more years before everything is fully complete.

It takes just six minutes to get here from St Pancras. Six miles in six minutes on the Javelin train. By car or underground it would take you six or seven times as long as that. So this part of London is now accessible for people approaching from the north. You can now watch West Ham play at home, as they have moved away from the Boleyn Ground, with claret and blue lighting up the London Stadium.

What you get inside the bar is great beer and great food, as Mason and Company is the brainchild of Edward Mason (owner and director of The Five Points Brewing Co, based in a railway arch under Hackney Downs station) and Rachel Jones (founder of street food company “Capish?”)

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There are 20 beers on tap to choose from, as well as numerous bottles. All of these can match with some street food classics, including a meatball sub, steak brioche, and fried chicken or aubergine parms on brioche (think posh KFC).

Plenty of sides to choose from, Italo-fries (skin on fries coated in oregano salt), courgette fries, a Hackney salad (which is much nicer than it might sound, remember this area has been regenerated!) and a few other bits and pieces. It was chicken parm for me, Italian fried chicken thigh, marinara sauce, basil aioli, sautéed kale and parmesan crisp on a brioche roll. Very much a posh chicken burger, accompanied by those Italo-fries.

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Great food and great beers make this a great pub if you find yourself down at Here East. A worthy winner of pub of the month, and I’ll be back again on my next visit.

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