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The revival of the Great British Boozer
With 14 pubs closing every week, it takes a brave decision from a businessman or woman to buck the trend and decide to move into that market. But that’s exactly what the owners of The Great Southern have done. Cityglen Pub Company is a small independently owned chain, who are quietly renovating and reinvigorating traditional pubs in South East London. If you’re tired of achingly hip, noisy pubs in Hoxton/Shoreditch, and want to experience a proper pub minus the hipsters, the Cityglen pubs should be on your radar. The latest of which is The Great Southern.
A large traditional Victorian pub, it’s been given a new lease of life, with some lovely quirky nods to its past. Situated bang on the doorstep of Gipsy Hill station, it takes its name from a steam train, which features in a mural in the garden.
The light-filled interior features reclaimed floor tiles, lots of mahogany and brass, boxing memorabilia as a nod to the times when illegal fights were once held in the pub, and a dining room designed to feel like a train dining carriage. It’s a pub very much in the centre of the community, there are quiz nights, nights with DJs, jazz afternoons and of course beers from the neighbouring Gipsy Hill Brewery.
We started our review by testing the cocktail making skills of the bar staff. A ‘Suns Out Guns Out’ for my partner Alex, and ‘Get Carter’ for me. Both were lovely long refreshing gin-based drinks, which avoided sweetness. These got a big thumbs up from us both.
The pub has adopted a really sensible approach to the menu by keeping it simple. A variety of snacks/starters, then a choice between burgers, home-made pies, or pizzas. Each category had vegetarian options, with some vegan choices too. Apart from salad, I couldn’t see any gluten-free options, although not an issue for us we do know it is for several of our friends. We started with falafel bites with a vegan mayo and chilli dip, and mac and cheese bites with sweet chilli dip. Both were obviously very homemade, piping hot, and hit the spot that comfort food always does. By that, I don’t mean my hips!
A pub without a pie is like a day without sun. Luckily for us, the sun was out and pie was on the menu. Chunks of chicken nestled within a rich pastry case came served with creamy mash, fresh vegetables and its own boat of chicken gravy.
My hunters chicken burger came in a toasted brioche bun with bacon, lettuce and tomato all topped with cheese and bbq sauce. Accompanied by skin-on chips and tangy coleslaw, this was delicious, if somewhat messy to eat.
Fearing for the damage to my hips, I declined a dessert, but Alex went in for the chocolate brownie. Our very helpful and attentive waitress very thoughtfully brought two spoons. I have to admit to having a small sample. The brownie had that lovely slightly crispy exterior whilst oozing a little in the middle.
Whilst we were in the pub the clientele was mixed and multi-cultural. There were families with three generations enjoying a meal together. Couples having a romantic cocktail. And groups of friends enjoying a drink and the footie on the screen. This traditional pub really is meeting the needs of the local community and should be able to lure a few people away from the Crystal Palace triangle. I know that when we are in the area again I will make a bee-line for this great boozer.
The Great Southern Pub
79 Gipsy Hill,
020 8766 8390
Disclaimer: We were guests of the Great Southern