When the Dog & Duck on Chingford Road closed, rumours began to spread that it was going to become yet another Tesco. I don’t know if there was any truth behind those rumours, but thankfully, Tesco never arrived, and after extensive refurbishment by its new owners, the Dog & Duck has been re-born. I followed the refurb on the pubs Facebook page, and the work looked to be pretty impressive. When I visited on Saturday I was kind of blown away by the change. This pretty ordinary looking building has been hiding a secret that has been unearthed by the refurb, and it’s nothing short of spectacular.
The pub has been taken over by the group behind the Dukes Head on Wood Street, and they have done a cracking job on this building. The front of the pub looks smarter than I ever remember it, and the interior has been bought bang up to date. Carpets have been replaced by beautiful stripped and varnished floor boards, most of the walls are painted in dark colours, whilst others have been stripped back to the brickwork. The combination really works, the pub feels cosy, warm, and a million miles away from the busy traffic on Chingford Road.
I’m a bit of a geek, so one aspect of this pub really makes me happy, and that’s the room on the left hand side of the bar. During the refurb, the owners re-discovered a double height roof space that had been boxed in and hidden from view for who knows how long. Old timbers rise up from the walls and arch over the room to support a beautiful panelled glass ceiling. The room looks fantastic, and having the old ceiling back on view gives a real sense of the history of the pub.
Re-named the Sourdough Saloon, the double height room is home to the pubs pizza kitchen, which specialises in pizzas made with sourdough bases. I know it seems that pretty much everything in Walthamstow is made of sourdough these days, but having tried one of the pizzas, I can tell you they don’t disappoint. I went for the Mamma Mia, a Margherita pizza with parma ham, rocket, and Parmigiano Reggiano. It cost £10.50, and was delicious. For a fiver you can also have the Delizios, which I can best describe as a pudding pizza. It has a sourdough base, it’s covered in nutella, and topped with strawberry, raspberry or banana.
Something else that’s a little different about the Dog & Duck, is that the owners have decided to put a pool table and dart board back in. Usually when pubs are refurbished, the pool table and dart board are the first things to go. But not here, they occupy a corner of the pub just by the bar. It’s nice to still have a bit of old pub in the new pub.
This is a cracking refurb that has breathed new life in to the Dog & Duck. And importantly, this is a refurb that has saved the pub from becoming a Tesco, flats, or being demolished. With its massive suntrap beer garden, great food, and friendly staff, the re-opened dog should make a good addition to the Walthamstow pub scene. They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but this dog (and duck), has learnt a few. You can read more on the pubs Facebook page, or you can pay the Dog & Duck a visit at 222 Chingford Road.