Pub Spy: The Approach Tavern, Bethnal Green
Lured by the promise of a top notch pub garden, my chain-smoking friend Kate is leaving her Highgate hideaway to join me in Bethnal Green for a drink. Since the smoking ban, she has developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the capital s best pub gardens, b
Lured by the promise of a top notch pub garden, my chain-smoking friend Kate is leaving her Highgate hideaway to join me in Bethnal Green for a drink.
Since the smoking ban, she has developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the capital's best pub gardens, but The Approach Tavern was, for her, an undiscovered gem.
Blazing heaters and a covered canopy ensure the spacious front courtyard is busy even when the dismal weather kicks in. Parked on a bench with a bottle of Budweiser, whilst the rain lashes down, Kate is positively beaming.
Situated in a leafy tree-lined avenue near the entrance to Victoria Park, The Approach is one of the East End's friendliest boozers, which boasts an upstairs art gallery apparently frequented by Charles Saatchi.
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The pub boasts a mixed clientele of arty types floating over from Vyner Street, local families (the garden is very child-friendly) and office workers seeking a post-work glass of Chablis.
During the summer's festival season in Vicky Park, it is rammed to the rafters.
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Two blackboards list the regularly changing menu, which includes a range of gastro-pub fare from burgers to Spanish Omelettes and the ever-popular Sunday roast. A main meal will set you back at least �8 with steaks going up to �12.
There's also a range of beer-soaking snacks such as an enormous plate of cheesy Nachos or chunky potato wedges.
Inside, the dimly-lit interior has a traditional feel with its mahogany bar, old pews and comfy sofas.
The bar stocks a selection of real ales, slightly pricy Czech lagers and an excellent choice of wines.
The Approach is a genuine community pub, which flirts with bohemia whilst avoiding pretension.
Even smokers on a rainy October evening would agree.