The Commercial Tavern in the East End’s Commercial Street is typical of the type of corner pub that once existed everywhere in this area. It would have been filled with effing and blinding locals banging back dimple-pints, and to be fair there are still one or two who look in. The pub doesn’t do food. It doesn’t have a picturesque garden. It doesn’t have a colourful history. It doesn’t even have a website. And it’s not very big. As if to make up for this, it has is quirky ambience by the bucketload.
In the summer there are sparkling Indian umbrellas outside. Inside it’s dark and arty, with a frankly strange selection of music, and upstairs a semi-circular room featuring a bright and sunny bar collaged together from bits and bobs. Is that wall really made up of thousands of jigsaw pieces laboriously attached with price-tag ties? Are the loos really covered with hundreds of illustrations from old Janet & John books?
Nice staff, a good selection of beers and best of all, funky clientele who haven’t overdosed on the desperately fashionable Shoreditch look. There aren’t many pubs in London where you can sit and watch the world go by – they tend to look inwards – but this is one where you can.
Sometimes you get to be special by not trying too hard.