It’s in every way a classic pub, cherishable in that inimitable English way—Victorian wooden bar with stools, red carpeting, worn plank floors, a blissful lack of clanging “fruit machines.” But then again, that tiny back porch with a smashing riverfront panorama of a bend in the Thames all but waves a magic wand over it. If you find it all preposterously winsome, you wouldn’t be alone—it’s ridiculously narrow and jams at peak hours, but come at noon and it’s a dream. Charles Dickens, who partied here, wrote about it in Our Mutual Friend, and the wizardly Ian McKellen loved it so much (he lives nearby so it’s been his local for decades) that when it came up for sale, he and his ex-boyfriend teamed up to buy it and preserve it. Sir Ian is known to pull pints and host Monday’s quiz night when he’s not performing somewhere. The prize is £50 in drinking money, which you’ll find delightful to spend here.
76 Narrow St., E14
Our Rating Neighborhood Limehouse Hours Daily noon–11:30pm; food served until 9:30pm Transportation Tube: Limehouse DLR or Westferry DLR Cuisine Type Pub Web site The Grapes
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