76 Narrow Street, London, E14 8BP, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7987 4396
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Fri noon-3pm & 5:30-11pm, Sat noon-11pm Sun noon-10:30pm
Door: Make reservation
Style: Pub traditional
Recommended for: Historic interest
Price guide: Middling
Food: Full menu
Owned by: Evgeny Lebedev, Sean Mathias and Sir Ian McKellen
"The Six Jolly Fellowship-Porters, a tavern of dropsical appearance, had long settled down into a state of hale infirmity", wrote Charles Dickens in Our Mutual Friend. "In its whole constitution it had not a straight floor and hardly a straight line."
The Grapes is real name of the pub Dickens describes and it has changed little. It old when he visited and over 150 years later this tiny pub which backs onto the river still does not have a straight floor. The present building was built in 1720 on the site of a previous pub built in 1583.
The grapes survived bombing of nearby Limehouse Basin during World War II, and Docklands redevelopment in the 1980s. It is now owned and cared for by manager Paul Mathias and owners Evgeny Lebedev, Sean Mathias and Sir Ian McKellen who is a close neighbour (as was Francis Bacon who lived and worked at No. 80).
For centuries this was a working class tavern serving the dockers of Limehouse Basin. Today the regulars are better dressed and possibly better mannered but judging by our visits those dockers enjoyed better ale. Perhaps three cask ales are too many for such a small pub? Try the English fare served in first floor restaurant with views across the river but perhaps stick to the wine.