The Hare & Hounds on Lea Bridge Road was the first pub I went to when I moved to East London. I was living on Bloxhall Road in Leyton, and went in to the Hare on my second day in E10. I was supposed to be going to the now closed B&Q for paint but ended up in the pub with a pint. I was asked for I.D. which at the time annoyed me no end, now of course I’d be over the moon (and pretty astonished) if someone asked me to prove my age. The Hare, which opened in 1861, is now being run by the team behind the Dog & Duck and the Duke on Wood Street. The pub has been refurbished and is now open again, so on sunny Bank Holiday Saturday, we wandered down to check it out.
The pub has changed a fair bit since I last went in. The building has been painted dark green, the carpet has gone, as have the fruit machines which I’m sure used to be in there. The floors have been sanded and varnished, the grand ceilings have been re-painted, and the back room has been turned in to a dining/private room complete with a huge lions head fireplace and two trees on the back wall. At the side of the main bar the conservatory has been changed, and the huge garden is almost unrecognisable. If you’ve been in the Dog & Duck or the Duke, you would recognise the style, but the Hare isn’t an identikit pub. The refurb makes the pub feel modern, but also celebrates the beautiful old features of the building, and I for one really like it.
Food at the Hare is provided by Brew Burger, and the menu includes buttermilk chicken burger, pulled pork, root vegetable, and halloumi and mushroom burger. I went for the Saturday special, the breakfast brew burger, a glorious combination of beef burger, bacon, sausage, egg and fried tomato. That’s right, a fry up in burger bun, burger nirvana has been found. The menu also includes salads, ribs, chicken wings and of course a Sunday Roast. Burgers start at £7.50, salads at £4.95, and three huge chicken wings will cost you £5.25. All of the food I saw come out of the kitchen looked good, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy eating my way through the menu.
I can pretty much guarantee that as soon as I publish this post, I’ll get people coming back to me telling me this is yet another ‘proper’ local pub that has been lost, then complain about hipsters, people from Hackney, baby buggies and gentrification. But here’s the thing, the pub is still a pub. It isn’t being demolished or turned in to flats, it’s staying as a pub, and a good one at that. So as far as I can see, there’s nothing to complain about.
Since moving to Walthamstow from Leyton, the Hare & Hounds has sort of fallen off my pub radar. But I’ve realised that like many in the Markhouse area of E17, it’s the closest pub to me. With its lovely sunny beer garden, smart bar, good food, and the realisation that it’s much closer to home than I thought, I think the Hare & Hounds is going to be become a regular on my pub list.
If you fancy trying the Hare & Hounds out, you’ll find it at 278 Lea Bridge Road.