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The Dispensary, Whitechapel, E1

19 Leman Street
E1 8EN

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Ian Mapp left this review about The Dispensary

GBG 2019 Tick. Former hospital but you wouldn't know it - feels like a townhouse converted into a pub.

Long bar - a main room set with wooden tables in a row and an alcove on the way to the gents with more comfy chairs.

Greeted on entry by very friendly staff.

Oakham JHB was very wrong and had to be sent back but was swapped immediately for a better pint that I failed to record.

Visit blogged at

On 2nd November 2018 - rating: 6
[User has posted 628 recommendations about 622 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about The Dispensary

A revisit for their beer festival where I got to meet the TAND, who was curating and cellaring. The selection from quality brewers was excellent and the condition, even off stillage, was first class. Interior-wise there’s been a lick of paint (it needed it in 2009!) and it seems bluer than I recall – no bad thing actually, it worked rather well. I enjoyed my visit.

February 2009
Popped in on the strength of its Good Beer Guide entry and was pleased I did. A pretty grand exterior and It's a cavernous old building inside and manages to retain an element of its Victorian heritage despite being filled with accountants eating posh nosh and drinking wine; the place does lack a bit of soul, probably due to the ludicrously high ceiling but at least the vast windows let in plenty of light. The beers were in very good shape with three available on my visit - my Dark Star Hophead was delicious. Although it hasn't been open in its current guise for that long, the décor is already wearing a bit inside, needs a lick of paint around some of the edges. Worth seeking out if in the area, good for a slow afternoon beer – open Monday to Friday only, though. Rated 7

On 30th August 2018 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3969 recommendations about 3957 pubs]

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hondo . left this review about The Dispensary

Nice solid old exterior with a tiled and bare boarded interior that's smaller than I was expecting. 5 real taps but just 2 on during my visit.

On 26th September 2017 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2673 recommendations about 2617 pubs]

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Pub SignMan left this review about The Dispensary

Built in 1859 from voluntary donations, this grand building in Italianate style started out as the Eastern Dispensary before closing during World War II and temporarily being leased to the Jewish Hospitality Committee. Eventually, the building was given to the London Hospital before a radical change in 1996-7 saw the building remodelled as a pub. Today we find a smart, modern bar in suitably grand surroundings, but with just a hint of hotel bar about it, perhaps because of the stilted décor. You enter up a short flight of steps into a patterned tile floored space with the main bar to your left. Here you will find a bare boarded area with huge front windows masked by some rather bland looking boards. Bench and standard chair seating has been arranged throughout, with attempts at grandeur including chandeliers, a purple feature wall and a large mirror. The servery runs along the rear wall and has a plain counter and simple mirrored bar back. To the right of the entrance is a smaller space with plush seating , easily taken up in its entirety by a small party of colleagues on this visit. Spiral stairs to the left and a standard staircase to the right both led up to the balcony where additional seating can be found and from which customers can gaze down over the main bar area. Music was playing quietly on a Friday evening and the beleaguered bar staff were having to deal with some worse for wear customers on my arrival.
There was only one ale left by the time I arrived - Harveys Sussex Best - with Dark Star Hophead and Vale VPA clips reversed. The Best was actually in very good shape and served to me by a very friendly barmaid, but I was a bit disappointed with the lack of choice. Keg drinkers could enjoy the likes of Adnams Blackshore Stout and Lagunitas IPA among more familiar options.
I thought this was quite a nice place to be able to explore, but seemingly a bit devoid of warmth and character, although the bar staff did their best to remedy that with a warm welcome and good service. I suspect this place can be seen in a better light when not visited late on a Friday night, but I left feeling a little underwhelmed. Maybe a revisit is required.

On 4th January 2016 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2402 recommendations about 2402 pubs]

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Alan Winfield left this review about The Dispensary

The Dispensary is housed in a grand looking building,it it on the opposite corner to the Black Horse.
Once inside there is an oblong shaped room with the bar facing,the room has a high ceiling,the seating is pew type which were all laid out for diners some with reserved signs on them,there was one table with two armchairs to the left which i sat at as this was not laid out for diners.
There were three real ales on the bar,i had a drink of Harveys bitter which was not at its best,the other beers were Adnams Ghost Ship and Dark Star Maelstrom.
The pub was empty on my pre dinnertime rush,decent background music was playing.
Not really my sort of pub and the quality of the beer also let it down.

Pub visited 1/7/2015

On 1st July 2015 - rating: 6
[User has posted 6113 recommendations about 6113 pubs]

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

A fine old building, with the front entrance located up a short flight of steps. The interior of the high-ceilinged bar area has been refurbished with generally light decor and limited furniture, with a more traditional feel to the smaller side lounge. Also has a mezzanine and several picnic benches out on the pavement. Slightly surprised to find just three of the five handpumps in operation, with Harveys, Lighthouse and VPA (£3.70 less 30p Camra discount) on offer. Uncomfortably busy when I called in early in the evening; so, if I visit again, I'll try to remember to arrive at a slightly quieter time.

On 17th December 2014 - rating: 6
[User has posted 5968 recommendations about 5968 pubs]

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Rex Rattus left this review about The Dispensary

This place hasn't altered appreciably since previous reviewers' visits. The ceilings here are just about the highest I've ever seen, thus making the noise of conversations reverberate around the room. A lot of people in here were eating - not surprising as it's branded as a pub and restaurant - with one apparently well-oiled group making a lot of noise and evidently enjoying themselves.

I didn't rate it as highly as others. A group of half a dozen or so blokes were at the bar committing PA#95, which prevented me from seeing what all three clipped handpumps were dispensing, but I managed to make out that the end one was dishing out Crouch Vale Pale Ale so I went for that (£1.90 a half). Three ales on is not bad, but by no means exceptional. It may be a more comfortable place when it's a bit quieter - perhaps not in the run-up to Christmas. I don't think I would go out of my way to visit again, but there are an awful lot of worse places to stop off for a pint in this area.

On 12th December 2013 - rating: 5
[User has posted 2573 recommendations about 2491 pubs]

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Hamish McLambat left this review about The Dispensary

As has been said, it is a lovely building and a POTY winner previously. However, it does feel much more of a bar to me and is a little on the expensive side, but perhaps that is my roots creeping out. None the less, some lovely ale and a very fine burger is to be had here. Well done.

On 3rd April 2011 - rating: 7
[User has posted 6 recommendations about 5 pubs]

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Malden man left this review about The Dispensary

This is an impressive and thoughtfully preserved building. The main entrance has a tiled floor, this would once have been a lobby but is now open to the rooms either side. The main area and bar are to the left, wood flooring in here, possibly original, seating at leather covered benches and armchairs at small doubled up square tables along the outside wall plus shelves and high tables for the vertical drinkers. The feel is rather modern and airy but many original features do remain, such as the lower wood panelling now painted blue. The upper walls are painted in a white/cream colour as is the high ceiling, where a couple of fans whirr away. Upstairs is a mezzanine floor built over the bar area where people were eating but the area is not exclusively for diners. This area is lit by a row of circular rooflights. To the right of the entrance is a smaller more intimate area with sofas and armchairs, rather like an elegant living room.
Decor includes strategically placed Champagne bottles, a framed display of their labels, plus some river scenes. There are large white candles in glass jars with coffee beans.
A GBG 2010 entry and East London/City branch POTY 2009. Five handpumps, three on at the time, Sharps Red Ale, Nethergate Florence Nightingale and Crouch Vale Brewers Gold. I had the Brewers Gold and it was in fine condition.
The pub is closed on Saturdays and Sundays as are many in this area.

On 25th September 2010 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1685 recommendations about 1662 pubs]

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john mcgraw left this review about The Dispensary

One large bar with a couple of small drinking areas to the side and a restaurant upstairs.The inside seems a bit clinical and it does not have the feeling of a pub.This place was CAMRA city and east London pub of the year 2009 but on my visit there were only 2 real ales on with the Sharps Red Ale being in very poor condition.Perhaps it was a bad day.

On 24th September 2010 - rating: 4
[User has posted 2040 recommendations about 2021 pubs]

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