The Old Haberdasher - a quiet drink

The Old Haberdasher is the latest incarnation of the pub on 44 Lewisham Way, at the top of the hill leading down in to New Cross.

Previously known as the Rosemary Branch and the Black Flag, it reopened this summer , having been given a significant makeover. The result is a fine, if slightly characterless pub - like the Talbot, without the regulars to give it a sense of community. The bulk of reviews it has received elsewhere on the site deliver a consistent message: booze fine, food decent, music annoying. Most reviewers also say that while they had a good time, there were few other customers.



Our experience, drinking there for half an hour on Saturday afternoon, was that we were the only customers in that time. The staff looked understandably bored, but were reasonably friendly.

The Old Haberdasher is a little far from the main drag to catch passing trade and without a point of difference to persuade many to make a detour and too expensive to compete with the Hobgoblin for student trade.

With several good pub options nearby in New Cross town centre it faces stiff competition but the marketing and the event programme has been minimal. Given the notoriety of its predecessors, it seems a mistake not to make more people aware of how it has changed. This pub could be a great addition to the local area, but it has its work cut out.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

This place needs a regular events programme, active promotion, use of social media, and probably to cut its food prices a bit. There aren't too many nice places for a civilised sit-down meal-and-pint around that area, and it could fill that gap quite nicely - but only if people actually know about it!

mintness said...

Said it before, will say it again - a decent, well-run restaurant would do well in that location (wider pulling power than a pub + less direct competition for that sort of thing in New Cross), but I fear any establishment styled as a pub - even one offering higher-end food - will always be doomed.

Anonymous said...

We've been there a couple of times and its had a few customers not many. The main problem we found was the smell coming from the toilets was revolting! I think it's the cleaning products or air freshener they use but it was rank!

mk said...

It's just a bit drab, and the food there is too expensive for the kind of clientele that may be wandering around the area (primarily students).

Matt-Z said...

The only notoriety was that of its previous incarnation, the Black Flag, under the later stewardship of the Vietnamese owners (and even when they first had it nothing particularly bad happened). Before that it has, sadly, just been rubbish for well over ten years. In times gone by it was rough and ready, but no more so than other pubs in the area, and was hugely popular with both students and locals.

The toilets have always stunk. Apparently the fairly recent extension which houses them was built over an old well or something, and ever since the damp and fetid honk of the soil pipe have risen up to haunt the punters like the corpses of the dead in a George Romero film.

Frankly how nobody can make a decent go of this pub - next to a University, on a main road, in a densely populated area - is beyond me. Even with the investment it's seen of late it's still a failure.

Badger Moon said...

What it needs is a Large Revolving Moose.

mp said...

I think this pub wants to attract the crowd that goes at the NX House and Royal Albert down the road. the way it has been renovated makes me think of that. Unfortunately for them the NXH, which opened pretty much at the same time is such a big pub that can host most of this kind of people living in the area.

Anonymous said...

A good summary, I think. Drab, food slightly overpriced but good, beer reasonable, the music awful.

At present it is neither one thing nor the other - it can't appeal to either the noisy night out-pub mob or the quiet relaxing-booze mob.

Not sure what a large revolving moose would add, but it would certainly add something. And it needs something.

Anonymous said...

Bless. we've been going here regularly since recently moving to the area as it's the closest to our house and we always get a seat (super lazy!). We have noticed it seems to be getting busier gradually... and when a new cd appears it's a cause for celebration! The staff are lovely and whilst the drink/food isn't cheap, it's by no means overpriced for the quality.

But most comments are so right - a programme of activity would be spot on (our best nights there have been halloween, and the christmas party they had on Friday!) and some social presence would at least allow some locals to have a bit more of a say in evolving the place into a true local. i really hope it doesn't fail - the manager seems really enthusiastic, but i wonder if his hands are tied (hence only having 4 cds to play).

but i would recommend it though - it's nice!

Anonymous said...

The queues in the NX House were four deep at the bar, left without a drink in the end.

Anonymous said...

Sunday night I went in here and it was pretty empty but I saw a friend so I had a drink then I went down the road and the New Cross Inn was jam packed as a classic punk band were playing.
The New Cross Inn at least understands that this area has a bohemiam and musical history to it. The old Rosemary Brach of 15 years ago was very popular with students especially music students and arts students at Goldsmiths. The Black Flag tried to revive that bohemian artisitic side but were let down by the owners criminal friends. It now has different respectable law abiding owners but they have just created another bland pub. They need to remember where they are. They need to appeal to students and the local artistic/musician community. That would bring in customers. There is enough space for occasional musicians to play there. The decor is a little bland. They could maybe do up the garden so that it is a pleasant place in the summer. Both the New Cross House and the Hobgoblin have decent outdoor spaces. The car park behind the garden could be utilised somehow, maybe turned into a covered smoking area. Also the pool table should be brought back to the alcove. It should serve more ale too.

New Cross CC said...

I have been in a few time to the Haberdasher. I really like it as an alternative in the area- it is a nice place to go for a quieter drink on a Friday night when the Albert is really busy, the food is always good and the Halloween night was fun.

But they need to promote themselves. They have no Twitter, no Facebook- no where than in the modern day people can make a bit of a noise about them. My friends that live on that road mentioned to the manager (who is really nice) he should get a twitter and we could all tweet about it and you know how these things work... but he said he didn't have time for that and sort of referred to it as some student thing... I know that is not the be all and end all but in these days it probably helps. There has been no sort of promo. Even when the telegraph revamped a couple of years ago there was a leaflet through all the doors in the area to say come have a free drink-as did the New Cross House (where the service is awful).

People need to be aware that they exist, that it is a great place for a meal out, good place to take your parents if you were a student and they came to visit.

But events would be good, a good quiz night once a week or something like that.

Mb said...

I used to be a bit agnostic about Social Media but look how Brockley Market hit the road running. It was busy from day one. It's free and takes little effort, worth a punt.

Mb said...

I used to be a bit agnostic about Social Media but look how Brockley Market hit the road running. It was busy from day one. It's free and takes little effort, worth a punt.

Hugh said...

You mean ambivalent.

kolp said...

One thing i'd like to note, in partial reference to this thread (don't delete it Nick) is about the cost of Sunday Roasts in the pubs round the area.

They all seem to be the same price, with 11 quid being the least costly i've seen. I'm curious as to how a couple of slices of meat, some roasted potates, veg, gravy and yorkshire IF you are lucky with minimal service comes to twelve quid (average) price around here?

Are the pubs checking each prices and deciding that;s the going rate regardless of what they offer?

Dan said...

Unfortunately The Albert has better food , beer, service is better priced and has a good regular custom base.

As someone else pointed out it opened about the same time as the NXH and has clearly missed out.

It's a shame really as it looks like a decent boozer!

Dan said...

@Kolp I agree 100%.

The NXH is £13. I feel like and old man complaining but the food was horrid!

Orchard is about same price but the food is far better and so I don't mind paying for it

kolp said...

Yeah, you've feel hard done by when you don't get a decent roast for the price. I've not managed to get in the Orchard for a roast the Talbot is pretty good quality but again 13 quid and the atmosphere lacks something.

Lecturer said...

The NXH is a nice additional to the area, but I don't see it as being a true competitor to the Haberdasher. For one, the acoustics are atrocious and it is incredibly difficult to have a conversation in there without shouting, much less a romantic meal or something of that ilk. The Haberdasher has a more grown-up atmosphere and better food (arguably better than the Albert as well). They really just need to sort the beer and get some cask ales in. By the way, it's not just students that drink in a university area. Staff need a place to go too and this is actually a very nice spot for that. I hope it's with us for a long time!

Anonymous said...

Agree with the earlier poster about remembering where the pub is. It's main clientele is going to be creatives, so if it wants to appeal to them it has to jazz things up. At the moment, it seems like the kind of unexciting gastro you might find in Notting Hill, not New Cross.

Some more sprightly decor and some good live music would set the place straight. Unfortunately, I don't think that appears to be the kind of vibe the owners are going for...

brockley gal said...

Who are the owners - and what are they looking for then. Agree that it would be lovely to have a venue for a reasonably proced roast dinner or carvery where families (half price for the children) would be welcome - something a bit closer to home but like The Vale in Dulwich.

Just looked it up and there is a website and choice of 2 or 3 course pre-bookable Christmas Meal (£24.95) up to 23rd december
http://www.theoldhaberdasher.com/The_Old_Haberdasher/Welcome.html

subnet_247 said...

I think everyone is right - it's a lovely looking pub and a decent size, but the food isn't good enough to warrant the price (although the sandwich/baguettes are pretty good value), the back area could do with a seating change round (big space, odd layout - two booth type affairs but next to each other, the diner style super high table?). It could do with some personal touches to warm it up and turn it into a really good cosy alternative - plants, perhaps some sofas in that underused back bit, a few knick-knacks etc. It's ALMOST there, but without a few tweaks it is just a bit bland unfortunately.

Mondee said...

@kolp, I'm not sure what to make of your complaint about the price of roasts. Don't most main courses anywhere half decent cost £10-£15? You'd pay £9-£11 for a pizza in Pizza Express, so I personally don't think £12 is that ridiculous for a roast - if it's good, of course. If it were much cheaper I'd be asking questions about the quality of the meat.

Mb said...

@hugh Yes....yes I do. Although I'm attempting to alter the definition using the brute power of Brockley Central.

kolp said...

It wasn't a complaint, it was a note that the prices are v similiar across the various venues around here even though what you get isn't.

Shard lover said...

What's so amusing is that we all seem to care more about transforming this pub into something decent than the owners do.

I get the distinct impression that if we all turned up there one night and bought a CD it would be a raging night. How hard is that to sort?

I don't know why i find myself feeling so sorry for the pub, i guess it is what we all see... the potential for something better!

Shard lover said...

What's so amusing is that we all seem to care more about transforming this pub into something decent than the owners do.

I get the distinct impression that if we all turned up there one night and bought a CD it would be a raging night. How hard is that to sort?

I don't know why i find myself feeling so sorry for the pub, i guess it is what we all see... the potential for something better!

Happycat said...

I think they do care, it just seems that they haven't quite worked out what will work best for the area and location, and are perhaps too reliant on passing trade rather than actively marketing - like it or not that does involve FB and Twitter!

It needs a bit more personality IMO - currently feels neither one thing or the other and so a bit bland.

I care because it's at the end of my street and it's great to have something nice happening there for a change, plus most of us don't want to see a decent business fail.

Maybe there should be a Brockley Central Haberdasher drinks night?

Anonymous said...

The owner is nice but didn't seem to want to hear the advice, ideas or comments of long term residents who have been regulars to the pub over the past 15. It will be sure to fail if he doesn't find out more about the area and competition.

The food however is excellent and very good value.

Rich said...

I really like the old haberdasher as a more conventional alternative to the orchard. It's very relaxed, good beers, wines and cocktails, excellent food and service, and sport on tv without the drunken football crowd.

Most people complain about atmosphere, but if they keep getting the basics right eventually people will return and the atmosphere will look after itself.

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