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The Black Lion, Plaistow, E13

61 High Street
E13 0AD
Phone: 02084722351

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Tris C left this review about The Black Lion

Once a coaching inn, this place dates from 1747 and is on CAMRA’s list of pubs with historic interiors, this being of Special National Historic Interest.
There are decent pictures of the interior on CAMRA’s site, but of note are the ‘30s’ additions and nods to the ‘70s’. Like Ian, I too had problems negotiating the entrance criteria, but once inside I found myself in a time warp pub which wouldn’t look out of place in a village, with a notionally Irish flavour but with a mixed local crowd and quite a few children. A decent soundtrack played, comprising some cheesy Oirish folk, then homespun Country & Western; pre-recorded horseracing played in silence on an inconspicuous TV and games machines flashed; also of note is that there’s a seafood bar out back in the substantial car park.
I also availed myself of the only cask offering that I could see at a crowded bar: a half of Mighty Oak’s Captain Bob (£2.50) in superb shape, served by a friendly old-school landlady; I could have stayed for quite a few if time had permitted.
Like chalk and cheese compared to the neighbouring Victoria Tavern and Lord Stanley, this is a very nice pub which would be improved with a wider – or perhaps more visible – cask choice, ditching the electronics and perhaps the kids too; it makes for a great double with the Boleyn Tavern.

On 29th November 2023 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2030 recommendations about 1995 pubs]

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Ian Mapp left this review about The Black Lion

Good Beer Guide (2023) brought me here. What an unexpected find. A C18th coaching house, largely unchanged, in Plaistow.

Getting in without prior knowledge, was a challenge. Every door seemed to have a sign with an arrow saying use next entrance. When you get to the last door, I found myself in a little unmanned bar. To get to the staffed main bar required going through the serving space.

There you find a long thin room, with beamed ceilings, bench seating and a long row of round tables. Drops down to another area with fruit machines. Decor is Irish.

Only two real ales on and they were both marked on a chalk board as "guest". I went for a previously untested Captain Bob by Mighty Oak Brewery and it was perfect. Prize winning in the Camra Bitter Category.

Impossible not to get into conversations with regulars.

A unexpectedly joyful visit.

On 6th March 2023 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1361 recommendations about 1346 pubs]

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Moby Duck left this review about The Black Lion

A pub seemingly at odds with its surroundings nowadays, an authentic, largely unspoilt 18th century former coaching inn. The pub layout is as described by the previous reviewers below, Three cask beers were advertised on a couple of chalk boards, these were Mighty Oak Georgeous George, Dartmoor Jail Ale and Doom Bar, none of which appealed to me, the keg selection normal stuff and premium lagers. The pub itself is an excellent place in a rather unappealing urban setting, but with rather mundane (in my view) beer choices, going on my experience and former writeups, I'll probably not be rushing back given there is little of interest in the immediate area.

On 26th August 2022 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1907 recommendations about 1880 pubs]

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Graham Coombs left this review about The Black Lion

A splendidly-idiosyncratic free house with the sort of brewers' Tudor interior dating from decades ago, except it might be even older as the pub is several hundred years old. Sundry bric-a-brac lines the walls and it lacks any form of the corporate design overkill that spoils many pubs. Apparently the Irish landlord has been there for 35 years and keeps it how he likes it. There is a surprisingly-large patio area and function room to the back and a smaller 'quiet' bar, accessed through the servery as others have mentioned. The Mighty Oak Captain Bob still seems to be a favourite and was in good condition; also on pump was Doom Bar with Norfolk Wherry either just coming or just finished. Food is traditional home made pub grub, very good and in large portions. A very nice pub.

On 1st December 2021 - rating: 8
[User has posted 3353 recommendations about 3290 pubs]

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Pub SignMan left this review about The Black Lion

Just a short walk from Plaistow station, this is a fine old traditional local’s pub with an almost rural feel to it. You enter to a small lower front room with some limited bench and chair seating under bare brick walls, timber beams and plenty of old black and white photos and brewery mirrors. It’s a pleasant enough space but a couple of steps over to the left lead you up into the public bar. This space is dominated by an unusual, almost wavy shaped bar counter along the back wall with a chunky quarry stone base/foot rest. The counter front has some attractive wood panelling and there is a long, dark wood bar back, all of which fits in nicely with the room’s numerous wooden beams and pillars, most of which are covered in horse brasses or pump clips. The wall opposite the bar has a single long banquette running its full length, serving a row of tables with some low stools in support. The banquette has been divided up with the addition of several surprisingly sturdy makeshift screens to aid with social distancing, resulting in a series of booth-like compartments each facing the bar. The pub seemingly has strong Irish connections, with the room notably decorated with numerous whisky mirrors, Guinness advertisements, an old Irish road sign and other such bits and bobs, whilst TV screens were showing football and live horse racing, with most punters eagerly watching the latter before nipping out to the nearby bookies. The bar counter hatch was open at he far end, allowing customers to pass through the end of the servery to reach a second bar and the beer garden, neither of which were visited due to my decision to claim a table opposite the bar.
A friendly barmaid greeted me from behind the plastic cover draped in front of the entire servery and took my track and trace details whilst pouring my pint of Mighty Oak Captain Bob (£4.10), which was one of two cask ales available alongside St Austell Tribute, with a Wychwood Hobgoblin Gold clip recently reversed. The beer was in good shape, befitting the pub’s regular inclusion in the Good Beer Guide and making it a bit of a lone beacon for ale drinkers in a part of the city where a good pint can be hard to come by.
I liked this place and thought it was a good example of a well-run local’s pub in a part of London that has seen its pub stock continually diminish over the years. Some of the locals were a bit earthy in their language and the obtrusive sports coverage does detract somewhat from the pleasant traditional interior, but overall I thought this was a nice place to enjoy a pint and seemingly the best option for quite some distance.

On 13th November 2020 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3140 recommendations about 3140 pubs]

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Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Black Lion

Old coaching inn, retaining a surprising amount of character while all around has changed (and is continuing to do so). The main bar is accessed from the side, with the front entrance leading first through a lower small seating area and then a few steps up. However, there is also a separate Quiet Bar accessed via a zig-zag through the end of the servery, and both parts are very traditional in appearance. There are also a few wooden benches out in the cobbled rear yard (with a covered passageway back to the side road), then the Stable Bar / function room and finally a rear patio beer garden beyond. Four real ales available from the various handpumps on the two counters: the regular Captain Bob from Mighty Oak (£4.00), Bombardier, Pride and Tribute. Good Beer Guide listed, and a real oasis in an area with no cask beer in any of the few remaining estate pubs.

On 3rd June 2019 - rating: 8
[User has posted 8160 recommendations about 8160 pubs]

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Rex Rattus left this review about The Black Lion

The Black Lion is essentially the same as when the previous reviewer visited it over five years ago. I too entered via the door on the right, into a very small room, or a lobby as described by JB, with a banquette and a few chairs. Up a couple of steps on the left takes you into a ribbon of a room with a long upholstered bench by the window, accompanied by a rank of small round tables and small stools. The bar counter has a nice fielded wood panelled front, but this room is very faux rustic with black posts and beams on the walls and ceiling, and with a rough plastered ceiling. It's been a while since Plaistow's been anywhere the countryside.

There were a couple of TVs on in the bar, one showing some horse racing and the other tuned (but muted) to some sports channel, but more encouragingly a row of pump clips was displayed on the beam above the counter. There looks to be an Irish influence here, with a couple of Bushmills advertisements displayed, a sign pointing to Killarney, another sign saying "failte", plus some of those ridiculous green-rimmed Guinness hats behind the bar presumably awaiting St Patrick's Day. One piece of unusual decor in here was the row of (presumably empty) whisky (and whiskey) boxes on a shelf beneath the window.

There's another completely separate room on the left, seemingly called "The Stable Bar", which I glimpsed across the servery. I'm not sure if it was open when I was in on Friday afternoon; at least it didn't seem to be accessible from outside.

A chalkboard at the end of the bar counter listed the available ales as Doom Bar (£1.85 a half), Courage Best, Woodforde Wherry, and Truman's Blindside, but only the first two were available in the main bar (with two handpumps unclipped). Mayber the other two were available in the Stable Bar - I didn't ask. Food was available at very reasonable prices. Sandwiches were £2.80 a pop, with hot stuff essentially being pub grub, with the "old favourites" list containing staples like steak & ale pie (£6.80), and double sausage, egg & chips (£4.90).
This is a real pub. Although it does food it's a million miles from being a gastropub. This is probably the best pub in Plaistow, but I have to say that that isn't saying a great deal.

On 14th March 2016 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2606 recommendations about 2520 pubs]

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John Bonser left this review about The Black Lion

Situated in Plaistow High Street, The Black Lion is a 16th Century former coaching inn that is immediately noticeable as looking much older than the surrounding buildings.

The main bar is up several steps from a smallish lobby and features a low beamed ceiling, a longish curved bar and fixed banquette seating. In this main bar, by the far door, is a framed newspaper article written by Harry Redknapp relating how, when he was a West Ham player, the players used to come here after games up the road at nearby Upton Park. Another newspaper snippet tells us that the pub used to be a haunt of smugglers when the pub was on the edge of the Essex marshland. Several plasma TV screens in this bar were showing horse racing and golf.

A separate "quiet bar", which can be accessed through the bar servery, or via a separate street entrance, is more comfortable and features patterned leaded windows. In this bar, a blackboard lists the real ales on offer.

At the back is a largish beer garden which can be accessed from the quiet bar or through a separate sturdy looking black oak door, which I presume is the original cobbled coach yard entrance. As you walk down to the beer garden, you pass the headquarters of West Ham Boys Boxing Club where Barry McGuigan ( a portrait of whom hangs in the quiet bar ) and Nigel Benn, inter alia, used to train. Opposite the Boxing Club is a function room, where, allegedly, Dick Turpin used to stable Black Bess. Some of the bench seats in the beer garden have seen better days and I'm afraid the garden does look a bit neglected.

The pub is run by an affable and welcoming Irishman who, on my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, came over and started to talk to me about the pub and its history. The pub displays an isolated Guinness poster and an Irish road sign, but this is certainly not an "Oirish" pub and the Irish influence is not overplayed. It's a former Courage pub and the old cockerel sign is displayed on one of the beams in the main bar.

Beers on were Adnams Bitter, Courage Best, Young's Kew Gold and Northumbrian Bucking Fastard. The blackboard in the quiet bar indicated that other Northumbrian beers either had been on or would be coming shortly. The Adnams was in good form, but I might have expected it to be a bit cheaper than £ 3.20p in this area of London. The pub was in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for 2009 and was displaying a poster for the forthcoming GBBF. Based on my visit however, I'm doubtful if there's a lot of real ale trade here.

It's a bit of a trek to get out here if you're not from the immediate area, but I think it's well worth it.

On 7th October 2010 - rating: 7
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

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Steve C left this review about The Black Lion

This place is an old coaching inn so there is quite a bit of land attached to the pub meaning there is a nice sized beer garden at the back of the property and also a car park. One of the buildings on the site is used by West Ham Boys Amateur Boxing Club and at the rear of the pub there is a separate function room that is available for hire. This inside of the pub has an olde world and there are various knick-knacks up on the walls. The main bar area is at the front and I counted three TV screens, two of which were showing horse racing and the other a World Cup match. Access is gained to the ‘quiet’ bar at the rear by shimmying through the bar hatch and through a door. There is a plasma screen in here, which was off, and yes it was peaceful enough to read a newspaper.

Courage Best, Doom Bar, Broadside and Maldon Gold were all available alongside a standard draught range and I was served a very nice pint of Guinness by the friendly woman behind the bar. Food is also available from 12:00 until 14:30 and 17:00 until 19:30.

It was a pleasant surprise to find this place and I would recommend to others.

On 1st July 2010 - rating: 8
[User has posted 5319 recommendations about 5287 pubs]

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train man left this review about The Black Lion

Entered main bar to friendly welcome & 3 handpumps, but just one clipped – courage. Fortunately a chalkboard at far end of bar announced ‘today's guest beers', served from three pumps in other bar, albeit Bombardier, Deuchars (yawn), but also Summer Virgin from Brentwood Brewing Co. (new to me), tho all at £3.20 seemed a bit steep round here. If you enter via the far door (from tube) there is a small seating area (near loos) before going up a coupla steps to the bar proper, lowish beamed ceiling, open brick surround, wood floor and long curved wood bar with room for a dozen well-spaced bar stools, opposite a row of tables with stools & long cushioned banquette below part-coloured windows to street. End of bar also carries sign stating ‘to beer garden and quiet bar' and access is thru the bar servery itself (tho ‘quiet bar' does also have separate street entrance). Here is well furnished bar room with more banquettes winding around 8 tables, open to smaller servery, and a plasma supplements the 3 in the main bar. A longer list of guest beers, with those currently ‘on' being ticked, Robinsons & Mighty Oak were the more interesting possibles among mainstreams such as Adnams, pity I caught a day with less variety.

On 19th July 2009 - rating: 6
[User has posted 412 recommendations about 411 pubs]