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“It’s quite a change”, commented a bewildered local outside the newly refurbished Jolly Butchers in Stoke Newington, North London, as we were on our way in.

Following Pete’s enthusiastic review, we scooted across to Stokey to check it out. We were excited to hear about this new arrival because we’ve long thought that Stoke Newington is exactly the sort of place you’d expect to find a good pub with decent food. As previous scouting trips have shown, however, to date, there have been lots of places masquerading as good boozers but actually displaying the worst tendencies of the pretentious would-be gastropub: crap beer and overpriced food.

It was pretty busy, which bodes well, but we managed to nab a table. As reported by Pete, the beer range is pretty cool – Dark Star, Thornbridge, and Schlenkerla rauchbier on tap. Nice to see an emphasis on the local, too, with brews from Brodie’s (Leyton, further east) and Tottenham, further north. The food really was quite satisfying — posh pub grub and convincing (that is, very processed) bratwurst for those who yearn for the beer gardens of Germany.

The beer condition was a little disappointing. We found the ales slightly warm and served with zero head (thanks again for that ‘take it to the top’ campaign, CAMRA) but it is only their first week and that will hopefully improve.

All in all, if we lived in the area, we’d be seriously chuffed, and its immediate success, and that of CASK in Pimlico, suggests that London can support a few more really decent pubs yet.