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About The Camel

By Keith Barker-Main (Metro 2006)
This new sister bar to Bethnal Green's The Florist is a bonny wee soul: this lovingly restored, cosy Victorian boozer with its big, butch, polished wood bar was also used as a wartime community centre for non-evacuated children. Modish, loud, floral wallpaper and 1960's bronze pendant lights contrast with utilitarian furniture. It's a useful new spot to have a pig's ear-that's Cockney for beer, Amstel or Adnams in this case. 'Home made (as in made in Bristol, we are told) pies and mash come with a twist: fillings include steak and chorizo and Thai green curry.

Janice Fuscoe - Time Out February 1st 2006
City 'regeneration' has seen too many of the East End's fine old Victorian boozers converted into pricey apartments, so it's great to be able to report that , thanks to people power, Bethnal Green's Camel-closed for five years and earmarked for demolition-has reopened its doors. The site was earmarked for a housing development but was saved, in part, by local opposition and a 500-strong petition. Steeped in history, the pub was used as a kids club for non-evacuated East End kids during World War II; membership of the Camel Club was a penny a week. And the Camel is now keen to trace any locals who attended the club, so they can put them in touch with researchers fron ITV's historical series 'The Way We Werw'. The pub has been sensitively renovated by co-owners Matt Keniston and Joe Hill (owner of the equally fabulous Florist nearby) who have retained its original brown tile exterior and dark wood bar while updating it with retro lighting, striking wallpaper (from Chair, the Notting Hill home store) and chairs covered with fabric designed by Keniston's girlfriend (and hand-dyed by Hill's). Since they're not tied to a brewery, the owners source their drinks from a range of independent companies. You'll find Adnams Broadside and Southwold real ales, Bitburger and Amstel lagers, and Guiness, as well as six different rums, five whiskies, nine decent red wines and the same number of white (all served by the glass). Food is pie and mash, but these are hand made gourmet pies-such as steak and chorizo or wild mushroom and asparagus-served with a pile of rich, buttery mash and minty mushy peas (£7.95, or £8.95 for daily specials such as Jerusalem artichoke, Stilton-like Blue Vinny cheese, chestnuts, root vegetables). Tea, coffee and cakes are also available and, to top it all, the pub is smoke-free zone. In Bethnal Green, the way o heaven is surely through the doors of the Camel.

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