The Elephant’s Head was a Clapton institution for over 100 years, with a colourful history and its ups and downs until it was transformed into an Irish pub under a different name and a cocktail bar under yet another name. Now it is back to its former glory and under its original name, beautifully restored and refurbished, with owners who want to pay tribute to the pub’s history, whilst giving their customers a brand-new experience of East London pub culture; and to share the fantastic range of craft beers, cocktails and delicious food.
We recently went along to have a taste of what’s on offer and I do wish The Elephant’s Head could be my local, I really do. You’ll see what I mean.
The interior is all dark wood floors, furniture and leather booths, long and narrow yet spacious, with stained glass touches (some original, some salvaged), decorated with historic pictures, photos and newspaper articles about the area and, of course the famous original elephant head mosaic at the entrance.
The bar is well-stocked with quality spirits and expert bartenders, the menu extensive and interesting. On the night, we were given a choice of two vodka and two vodka and two tequila cocktails. We both loved the Joe Crow, made with Jose Cuervo Traditional Repesado, sugar syrup, lime, lychee juice and red grapes. The Grapefruit Julep (vodka, honey syrup, pink grapefruit juice, grenadine, mint leaves) is for me the perfect summer cocktail, fruity & refreshing. Our neighbours couldn’t get enough of the Mitch Martini made with Zubrowski vodka, apple juice, passion fruit syrup and Crème de Peche. Top marks also to El Chapo – El Jimador Reposado, Agave Syrup, lime, ginger syrup, mezcal float. But if vodka or tequila is not your thing, there are plenty of other choices. And there is a range of Espresso Martinis, the perfect end to any meal.
Talking of food, the menu at the Elephants Head does simple traditional East London pub food with a modern twist using only the best ingredients. Instead of Fish & Chips, there is Crispy Cod Cheeks responsibly sourced breaded cod cheeks, served whole with chips and mushy-pea puree. We also loved the smoked salmon from the Secret Smokehouse and the scampi and bacon combo – delicious! Or try some other true English classics, including Ham, Egg and Chips, Toad-in-the-Hole and a full Mixed Grill.
An à la carte menu is also available Wednesdays to Saturdays, 2 courses £19, 3 courses £23, changing weekly and featuring seasonal fare.
If you fancy something lighter, have a look at the bar snack menu (which you can enjoy not just at the bar). I loved, loved, loved the Wild Boar Scotch Egg with Piccalilli Sauce, the Welsh Rarebit made with Titanic Stout and the Chicken Wings, served with East London Barnfathers hot sauce (make sure you have a cold drink at hand!).
The menu includes plenty of options for vegan & vegetarian diners. Our neighbour loved the Mushroom Pate, which is like a chicken liver parfait without the meat and butter and the Cauliflower Steak with quinoa, spinach and red peppers.
Desserts include dairy-free vegan Chocolate & Orange Cake which we tried ourselves and can only agree that it is delicious and a wonderful rhubarb crumble with vanilla custard. What can I say? I love rhubarb. And I love custard.
When I told you, that I wished The Elephant’s Head was my local, that is even more true at the weekends. Every Sunday from noon until 9pm you can leave your oven switched off and roll up for one of their bottomless roasts. It works like this: you choose your main: beef(roast sirloin, £16, beef Wellington for 2, £38), roast pork belly (£14), roast chicken (£12) (all locally sourced from responsible suppliers), or mushroom Wellington (£12); and then you add your bottomless sides: roasted root vegetables, roast potatoes, greens, cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire puddings and best of all, the bottomless gravy boat. How does that sound?
Also, on offer on Sundays is The Elephant Head’s special-recipe Bloody Mary menu, featuring pub’s take on the classic Bloody Mary, an experience to share between friends. Choose from three exclusive cocktails: Bloody Mary (vodka), Bloody Maria (tequila) and Red Snapper (gin). All made to a special homemade recipe, combining Worcester sauce, coriander, basil, chili, horseradish, lemon, salt and pepper, garlic and red wine, which is rested for four days to ensure that it really packs a punch. Just choose your spirit then share with your friends.
A pub is no pub without beer and The Elephant’s Head is perfectly situated, with 12 micro- and craft breweries within a five-mile radius. You will find seven beers as standard, four guest beers on rotation and a choice of bottled beer on offer.
Every neighbourhood deserves a place like the Elephant’s Head: it’s a pub, a cocktail bar and a restaurant and this place combines all three effortlessly, not at least thanks to the friendly, efficient and enthusiastic staff, the expertise in the kitchen and behind the bar; and the relaxing atmosphere. The perfect place to chill out, meet up with friends and to enjoy the latest craft beers, cocktails and some of the best pub food around.
The Elephant’s Head is easy to get to and right next to Hackney Baths bus stop.
The Elephants Head,
43 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NS
020 8533 3301
Sun: 12:00 – 00:00
Mon – Wed: 17:00-00:00
Thurs – Sat: 17:00 – 01:00