The Elephant’s Head returns to Clapton

This is another in that occasional series of articles that are about somewhere that I’ve not been yet. There are over 200 posts about pubs here, and I’ve been to almost all of those, so I hope you’ll allow me the occasional indulgence of the odd one that I’ve not visited.

After over a decade under different guises, The Elephant’s Head returns to Clapton under its original name, restored to its former glory, and now with giant Bloody Marys to share and bottomless roasts.

The pub’s new incarnation pays tribute to its old-school Hackney history, not to mention its 1980s heyday, while embracing new East London culture, to create a buzzing neighbourhood pub offering a fantastic range of beer and delicious food.


The menu at the Elephants Head puts a simple modern twist on traditional East London pub food. Dishes such as crispy cod cheeks are reinvented with the best quality, responsibly sourced cod cheeks, breaded, cooked and served whole with chips and mushy peas. Alongside the main menu are some true English classics, including ham, egg and chips (a staple Saturday night tea when I was growing up), toad-in- the-hole and a full mixed grill.

The menu includes an array of tasty options for vegan diners. The mushroom pate emulates a chicken liver parfait without the meat and butter, there’s a cauliflower steak (bang on trend), and a dairy-free chocolate cake.

What is Sunday without a perfect roast? Choose your main: beef, pork belly, chicken, or chestnut and squash nut roast; and add your bottomless sides: roast root vegetables, roast potatoes, greens, Yorkshire puddings and best of all, the bottomless gravy boat. All meat is sourced from responsible local suppliers.


Also available is the Sunday sharing special recipe Bloody Mary menu, featuring The Elephants Head’s take on the classic Bloody Mary. Choose from three exclusive cocktails, Bloody Mary (Vodka), Bloody Maria (Tequila), and the Red Snapper (Gin).

The real treat is the special homemade recipe, combining Worcester sauce, coriander, basil, chilli, horseradish, lemon, salt, pepper, garlic and red wine, which is rested for four days to ensure that it really packs a punch. Just choose your spirit then share with four friends with the bottomless roast.

The extensive cocktail menu, designed by some of the industry’s hottest talent, includes a celebration of what the Elephants Head team feel put the London cocktail scene on the map. This sees the resurgence of some 90s favourites, such as the Mitch Martini and a range of Espresso Martinis.

Situated within a five-mile radius of modern breweries, The Elephants Head is also a beer drinker’s heaven with seven brews as standard, four guest beers on rotation and an array of hop-based bottles on offer. If you fancy something lighter, The Elephants Head bar snack menu offers delicious homemade classics, including a Scotch egg, Rarebit and Chicken Wings, served with East London Barnfathers hot sauce to add a modern and local twist.

Lots to look forward to if you want to check out the new Elephants Head.

Boo to the 555

This is not food and drink related, but it’s my blog, so there.

It’s a quick rant about a bus. Today we did a walk along the eastern side of Thirlmere, arriving at The King’s Head Hotel in time for a late lunch. It was a little later than planned, but that was ok. It was always our intention to get the bus back to our starting point at the southern end of Thirlmere.

The 555 is the “main” bus through Cumbria, running from Lancaster to Kendal and then following the A591 through Windermere, Ambleside, Rydal, Grasmere, Thirlmere and on to Keswick. Whenever you are in Cumbria, you will always see a 555. Whenever we passed one it was a bit of a running joke to exclaim “555!”

The Lake District National Park Authority are always on at visitors to “leave the car behind” and to “enjoy the views without worrying about traffic or parking and help the environment”. We are all for that.


We were all for that. Until we got on the 555, to take us from The King’s Head Hotel, Thirlmere down to Wythburn Church. A journey of 3 miles along a main road, which takes around 6 minutes.

This journey cost us £3.50 each. So why would we ditch the car? Even at some of the most expensive car parks in Cumbria (and there are plenty of these, lots of them have credit card machines) you can usually park for less than £7 for the whole day.

I did tweet Stagecoach about this (operators of the 555):-

Dear @StagecoachCNL

How on earth can you justify a bus fare of £3.50 for a journey of 3 miles/6 minutes on the 555 alongside Thirlmere?

They couldn’t justify it. All they did was to confirm that the fare was correct. Correct it may be, but surely it’s not right? How does that encourage the use of public transport?

Anyway, mini rant over, back to wittering on about food and drink…

Turn your lives back 75 years for Churchill Night at The Churchill Arms, Kensington

Tomorrow night (30th November 2016) sees Churchill Night returning to the eponymously named pub in Kensington Church Street, Notting Hill – bringing 1941 back to life. The Churchill Arms has been hosting “Churchill Night” since 1985. Each year, in honour of Winston Churchill’s birthday, they black out the windows, turn up the Glen Miller and hosts a birthday party to remember for the man voted as the Greatest Briton in the 2002 BBC poll.

This year’s event will feature renowned fiddle player, Brendan Mulcare, who will be playing a violin made from Winston Churchill’s cigar box. The “rustic” violin, which was recently purchased by landlord Gerry O’Brien at a Sotheby’s auction for £6,600, was made by self-taught English maker and former master saddler William Robinson, and was played by Yehudi Menuhin in an American radio broadcast in April 1958. It is branded with ‘Made in Havana – Cuba’, on the front and on the back, ‘Selección Privada, Fabrica Tabacos Don Joaquin, Habana’.


The Churchill Night festivities will kick off from 6pm, with speeches from a few notable Churchill experts and marks the start of the festive period for the pub. On Tuesday 6th December the 20,000 lights on Gerry’s 80 Christmas trees (a record for the pub) will be switched on.

Gerry has this to say:-

“I’m 65 years old now – and this is my thirty-first Churchill Night.  It’s always an occasion to remember and I’m so pleased with my new piece of Churchill memorabilia – a fantastic violin made from one of the great man’s cigar boxes. It’s even more exciting to have a kindred spirit from County Clare, Brendan Mulcare, to play it on the night.

I know lots of my usual Churchill Night customers will be there for the event – but I hope that some new ones will come and visit us too. It’s a great night for all and the highlight of my calendar year. Every year, it gets better and better – and I think this year is going to be the icing on the cake and definitely my best ever. There will be music and dancing – but no moonlight. That is firmly blacked out in true Blitz style!”

Celebrate Halloween with “Screams of Whiskey”

Sometimes a vaguely interesting press release comes my way. Today was one of those times. You’ll note that the post title features the alternative spelling of whisky, as this particular press release features an Irish version of that spirit. It’s not one that you’ll find me drinking, but this sounds like an interesting use for it.

Once the trick and treating is out of the way, kick back and relax with a Screams of Whiskey cocktail, cheekily named after The Pogues’ 1984 song Streams of Whiskey . Featuring whiskey, rum and bird’s eye chilli, its little kick is sure to chase the ghosts away.


25ml The Pogues Irish Whiskey
25ml Navy Rum
25ml freshly squeezed orange juice
15ml fresh lemon juice
15ml fresh lime juice
15ml agave syrup
1/4 of a red bird’s eye chilli


Shake and dump (do not take this too literally, I think it means “empty into drinking vessel”)
Garnish with orange, mint sprig and chilli
Serve in a pewter tankard


The Pogues Irish Whiskey is available at select bars across the UK and in 70cl bottles from online retailers including Amazon, Drinksupermarket and Master of Malt priced around £30.

All brands featured are manufactured and/or distributed by Halewood Wines & Spirits, the UK’s largest independent alcoholic drinks manufacturer.

About Halewood Wines & Spirits (

Based in Merseyside, Halewood Wines & Spirits was founded by the late John Halewood in 1978. Today, still owned by the Halewood family, Halewood International Holdings PLC is the UK’s largest independent drinks manufacturer and distributor, with a turnover of £231 million, selling over 21 million physical cases each year and exporting to 75 countries.

Employing 1,000 “drinks specialists” worldwide, the Halewood Wines & Spirits group has five operations outside the UK – South Africa, China, Thailand, Ireland and Romania. In addition to global brands Red Square, Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer, Lambrini (shudder) and Whitley Neill, Halewood International offers full service support for Agency Brands in the UK and international markets.

Unique amongst these markets is Romania where they own and operate several vineyards, producing and bottling their own wine. Halewood Romania also bottles their own spirits and RTDs, distributing both their own products and agency brands to on and off trade outlets, including twelve retail outlets owned and operated by Halewood Romania.

This next bit should be read really fast in the style of those bits at the end of radio adverts, or American pharmaceutical adverts that have a disclaimer of “may cause anal leakage”. And yes, that is a thing, we saw it on telly in Las Vegas. And those two words are going to bring in some interesting hits for this post!

Drinkaware ( provides consumers with information to make informed decisions about the effects of alcohol on their lives and lifestyles. Halewood International is a funder of Drinkaware and an active supporter of the “Why Let Good Times Go Bad?” campaign.

Drinkaware’s public education programmes, grants, expert information and educational resources help create awareness and effect positive behaviour change. An independent charity established in 2007, Drinkaware works with the medical profession, the alcohol industry and Government to achieve its goals.

One of the flagship initiatives of Drinkaware is “Why Let Good Times Go Bad?” – a £100 million campaign running over five years to challenge the social acceptability of drunkenness. Run by Drinkaware in partnership with the drinks industry and Government, it is targeted at 18 – 24 year olds. The campaign encourages people to adopt “smart drinking” tips, such as eating before drinking and pacing alcoholic drinks with water, to prevent a good night from going bad.
Drinkaware has recently launched ‘My Drinkaware’ an easy to use on-line Drinks tracker to help adults understand the impact of alcohol on their lives and lifestyles.

All this talk of whisky has reminded me that we really need to organise another meeting of the cabal, as we haven’t met since June 2015, although we’ve come tantalisingly close on a few occasions!

More PR fluff

Another piece of PR fluff that has floated my way.

"Turn Up the Heat on Valentine’s Day with Food Noir’s Opulent Desire 
Not wearing a blindfold at dinner? You're doing it wrong!"

Well, that’s a load of rubbish to start off with. Who on earth wears a blindfold at dinner? Let’s read on through the fluff.

Food Noir, the capital’s sauciest dining club, has big plans for 
Valentine’s Day 2016, with an extravagant pop-up going by the name of 
DESIRE. DESIRE is the second in the series of Food Noir’s dining clubs, 
following on from the sold out TEMPTATION events which beguiled diners 
throughout the autumn.

How exactly did this beguiling occur?

After luring in legions of fans with an atmospheric, multi-sensory 
experience that combines food, music, live acts and a multitude of 
other tantalising elements, Food Noir is setting its sights on 
Valentine’s Day. DESIRE, which launches on the 14thFebruary will tease 
and tantalise with an unforgettable experience for avant-garde couples 
that want to take a step outside the box. The new DESIRE by FOOD NOIR 
events will run once per month for three months.

Well, you haven’t really told us anything yet. There are going to be some events.

With exquisite interiors in exclusive settings, immersive risqué 
theatre performances and atmospheric soundscapes purposely created f
or FOOD NOIR  by the award winning visual music creators, Qritikal 
Media are designed to stimulate every sense. Coming alive in DESIRE, 
the signature FOOD NOIR ambience is set to a backdrop of world-class 
cuisine. Food Noir has built a reputation for decadent multi-sensory, 
utterly unique dining experience like nothing else available anywhere 
in the capital.

Ok, a bit of dinner, a few drinks and an iPod playlist. What next?


Madame Noir of Nude Noir, the elusive force behind Food Noir, says, “As 
someone who is intimately familiar with the things that bring pleasure 
to my audiences, I innately understand how important it is to tantalise 
each and every one of the senses. Whether you’re sampling exquisite 
cuisine while wearing a blindfold, or watching our professional 
performers while deeply inhaling musky incense, my second in series 
exclusive DESIRE dining club takes guests further on a journey of 
exploration, all studded with elements of surprise. TEMPTATION was 
breathtaking and DESIRE builds the suspense to a goosebump-tingling 

I don’t really want any musky incense whilst having a bit of dinner, can you leave that bit out? They want you to pay 100 quid for this weirdness. We live in a strange world.