By Matthew Balman
Pandora's Cigar Box
Edited by Quentin Beroud
The one with the wedding
Cigar Club LDN went EAST! I literally hopped on the tube from one Westfield to the other. Once I managed to exit the Stratford mall I made my way past the 2012 landmarks that had become so famous during the Olympics. I’m ashamed to say that in 8 years of living in the big smoke this was all new territory for me. I hitched up my backpack and muttered to myself “I’m going on an adventure”, Bilbo style (Not that I’m comparing Stratford to Mordor, of course).
When I arrived at the host station I was greeted with a huge round of applause. At last, I thought, the Instagram page has paid off. I turned, trying to look bashful while wondering if I had a Sharpie on me for signing menus, ready to acknowledge my adoring fans… and saw the wedding party in full dress a few steps behind me, making their way to the reservation iPads. After paying my respects and saying congrats myself I was led to the table reserved for us. There was a lady already there, finishing up her brunch. A new member? Nope, just the previous booking polishing off her Eggs Benedict. She asked if she was ok to stay for a minute or two, which was fine as I always tend to be on the early side.
The weather was drizzly but warm, so no issues for the ten of us under a large umbrella in the up-cycled style garden. Think reclaimed wood, large cotton reels for tables, and a seating hodgepodge of assorted chairs, benches and a few large logs. Very ‘east’, very cool! Chefs came out to forage for herbs, mid-service, from the large planters around us. The garden was long and thin, overlooking the canal. If you smoke cigars for the tranquil element of the hobby I can’t recommend strongly enough lighting up next to passing barges, with the odd tip of the caps or waves to the people onboard. This has been the second canal smoking venue we’ve gone to and I highly recommend it. To be fair, the other one was closer to the waters edge (see the Union Tavern blog post) but this one still had a calming influence on those around. Maybe we should do away with land-based meetings altogether, and just embrace barge life.
Booking was easy. They responded very well to emails and were very accommodating. They have three areas: the barge which is dining only, the bar area (it had another name but can’t for the life of me remember it) for drinks and food and the garden area just for drinks. The ashtrays in our area were upside down plant pots which we soon re-righted to their former glory.
The app was easy to use and from memory stocked all that you’d expect to be on there. The service boys and girls were all on good form too and very pleasant. Bathrooms were at the top of the garden and had a little temporary/festival style feel about them. They weren’t portaloos but they did feel a bit rustic.
A few days after our visit Barge East won Best Newcomer Award at the Catey’s, so massive Kudos to them, as the Catey’s is basically The Oscars of the catering world! Well done guys and girls!
Drinks Pricing (out of 5)
All of your normal pub bits
4 out of 5
Date visited: 21/8/21
Address: River Lee, Sweetwater Mooring, White Post Ln, London E9 5EN