The Olympic regeneration has kindled a lot of interest in the East End, but many of its best venues long predate the Games. The Morgan Arms, situated on the intersection between Coborn Rd and Morgan St and an easy five minute walk from Mile End or Bow Rd Tube Stations, is one of the nicest pubs in London.
Many pubs in recent years have turned to providing quality food and this has often caused a confusion of purpose between a restaurant and a bar; the Morgan Arms integrates these functions effortlessly. The amalgamation of comfortable but very varied seating makes the place feel relaxed. The lack of standardisation also makes it easy to stay standing; those on their feet do not tower above all of those seated around them. Although the Bar itself is small, it is at the centre of the pub with the tables in clusters around it. This produces a natural break between those eating and those drinking without actually segregating the two groups.
For the diner, the food is of the highest quality. Pan fried fresh fish is often available and is always a treat, while the menu has a good variety of dishes from seafood to traditional pub grub and an exquisite risotto. Service is friendly and unobtrusive. The pub has great confidence in its cooking and the kitchen is open and visible from the tables.
As a social venue it is also very satisfying. Although beer is dearer than one would like, the pub makes up for it with a very smooth open plan layout while retaining some acoustic integrity. It is a wonderful and surprisingly rare experience to enter a pub and actually be able to hear the conversation around you. There are also pleasant outdoor seats and the roads around the pub are not very busy.
If you are coming through Bow, heading towards Stratford or Victoria Park, the Morgan Arms is well worth a detour. It does have a reputation however, so on certain days of the year it pays to be there early, otherwise you may not be able to get in the door. This is particularly true on the quiz nights, held on the first Monday of every month and on special occasions like the 5th of November. It is a testament to this small corner pub's design that it can be absolutely packed and yet remain a very pleasant place to converse and unwind.