They have a point when they describe themselves as ‘no ordinary pub’. The Old China Hand is anything but mainstream, shirking the traditional pub look in favour of a more modern take, embracing London’s current obsession of table tennis bars and providing alternative bevs to match. Atmospheric and charming, it’s a London watering hole well worth a visit.
The Old China Hand prides itself on its service, instantly noticeable when you are greeted by the staff upon entering the ambiently lit establishment. Rustic wooden furniture grace the grey-blue room, providing ample seating, whilst an assortment of ferns provide a touch of nature to the attractive interior. On tap you can find a variety of ales and lagers sourced from other family run establishments – no run-of-the-mill beers make the grade here – and the bar staff are always happy to give you a little taster before you decide what you’d like. An alternative selection of wines and whiskeys are also on offer, an exciting change from the all too familiar taste of Jack Daniel’s from your last night out.
Whilst it doesn’t offer much in the way of food, the Old China Hand does provide bar snacks; crisps, nuts, pork scratchings and the like. It also permits a BYOF policy as long as you’re not bringing in something that they already sell of course…
But its not just snacks and beers at the Old China Hand, oh no not at all. Home to two ping pong tables, the Old China Hand has embraced the popular desire for table tennis and booze that has swamped London in recent times. But if that isn’t your thing, they also have a darts board for the sporty types and a selection of board games too. Even the toilets (men’s anyways) are good fun as small goals and a dangling ball in the urinals allow boozy customers to score goals to their hearts content. As I used the urinal myself, a drunk fella proudly told me he had scored 67 that evening whilst bemoaning his ability to score in other departments that evening…
There is also a piano which customers are invited to play (though I imagine those who do, and have no musical ability, will be swiftly deposed) which is a welcome change from the only downside of this pub – the music. The selection of Irish Republican Anthems mixed with cheesy pop songs from bands like ABBA are enough to drive the most dedicated tribute bands crazy and are certainly not befitting of such alternative and trendy pub. Thankfully they are played quietly enough to be drowned out by good conversation.
You know the details. Here’s their website if you’re not convinced. Now the ball is in your court.
Location: 8 Tysoe Street, EC1R 4RQ [Farringdon]
Suitable For: Chilling with Friends, Drinks with Mates, Date
Price: Happily Affordable
Tips: Don’t bring your own ping pong bat, you’ll look like a douche
Wow Factor: Toilet football