The London Tavern in Margate has been named CAMRA’s (Campaign for Real Ale) Thanet Pub of the Year.
Blogger and beer lover Adam Tinnion popped in for a chat, and a pint, to see what makes the Addington Street boozer so special:
Having lived in Thanet for almost all of my 32 years, I can safely say that for most of that time, the pub scene was a little tired. Sure, when you’re 18 and first approaching the mythical locals that surround your neighbourhood, places you’ve been desperate to stride up to the bar and place an order but daren’t for fear of being questioned over your age, back then they seemed wonderful.
But as the tide swept away from Margate, so did the interest in establishing modern businesses. There’d been a few brave attempts but nothing on the scale of the last few years. Since Turner Contemporary opened in 2011, the transformation in Margate has been extreme. There’s always been one or two interesting places to grab a bite to eat or watch the famous Margate sunset with a cold pint, but it wasn’t until recently that the options were so varied.
My studio is based in Margate, just a few hundred yards away from The London Tavern. I’ve visited this establishment many many times over the years as I’ve been a regular player in the local pool leagues since 2001. Up until 18 months ago I would have been visiting The Everybody’s Inn. It was always a warm welcome but nothing ever really stood out about the pub back then.
That all changed in 2016 when Carl and Nancy Hilliard bought the building and set to transforming it into Margate’s newest pub. Carl, who was previously the landlord of Ales of the Unexpected in Westgate, tells how he and his wife sold that business and put every penny they had into the renovations of the London Tavern. When they opened their doors for the first time Carl was crossing everything for it to be a success because there was no plan B. Carl needn’t have worried! From day one the pub stood out and quickly developed a stream of regulars.
Just over a year later and the pub has been crowned Pub of the Year for Thanet by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. I spoke with Dennis Brandrick in this piece and he told me that to win this award you need to have a bit of everything – great beer is paramount and almost goes without saying – but beyond that the CAMRA judges look at the ambiance of the pub. They’re keen on maintaining a community spirit through their affiliated pubs to ensure they don’t close, as so many have over the last 15 years. The atmosphere Carl and Nancy have created was key to winning this award but so were the contributions of the two Joe’s.
Joe Bradley was the chief designer (in fact, the only design input full stop) and what he has created is a look that makes customers feel welcome. Almost like they’ve stepped into a rustic art gallery buried in the heart of the town. In fact that’s the general feeling of The London Tavern – every new customer who passes through feels like they’ve found a hidden gem.
A thought epitomised even more so by Joe Mullane, the head chef. Speaking with Joe it was clear he is passionate about food. Joe tells of how he got into the kitchen for the first time at the age of 40 and just a few years later he’s now running his own at an award winning establishment.
The beers are magnificent and also unique throughout the Isle, with many on offer here not being available elsewhere (including the Barista Stout – highly recommended by yours truly).
If you find yourself wanting some great food, great beer and great conversation, pop in to The London Tavern, you won’t be disappointed.