Moving to Croydon suburbs after years of living in Clapham came with its fair share of adjustment. The switch from Zone 2 to Zone 5 wasn’t easy (if you know, you know). We missed our cozy neighbourhood pubs (The Plough, The Alma, The Ship) that were only a stone’s throw away from our apartment. These were the sort of places where we could while away endless hours chatting or reading over a pint or several.
Which is why, when The Joker opened last year, it finally felt that ‘our kind’ of pub had arrived in the area. Originally from Brighton, Joker Croydon is its second outpost and the first one in London, although the mothership still exists in Brighton.
The interiors of the pub are pretty spectacular and oozing with history. The building used to be the second oldest Sainsbury’s; not the orange branded version you see today but a market hall in the early 1900s selling fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. After going through several re-incarnations as bars and clubs, the current owners stripped it all back to reveal the building’s original and impressive Victorian tiling on the walls and the stunning mosaic floors.
The enormous venue is further broken down into zones, with various configurations of communal tables, bar stools and raised banquettes. A lot of the furniture is reclaimed or salvaged. They even have a special area called The Green House which is perfect for hosting intimate parties, private hire, corporate bookings and supper clubs.
They currently collaborate with another Brighton institution, Humble Plates, for their food. On weekdays, they run an eclectic menu, whilst on weekends they have Weekend Brunch as well as Sunday Roasts.
We decided to visit Joker on a Sunday as we had heard rave reviews about their roasts. Kris ordered the Rolled Lamb Shoulder whilst I had the Slow-cooked Pork Belly. Both roasts came served with celeriac purée, braised red cabbage, tender stem broccoli, roasted butternut, roasted carrot, crispy roast potatoes and a Yorkshire pudding.
Both roasts were glorious with top notch ingredients, generous portions and lots of gravy. The prices at £15 – £16 for that quality and quantity was criminally good! The only criticism would be that the gravy could be thicker in consistency.
In terms of drinks, they have an exciting cocktails menu and an enviable range of craft beers and wines. Their speciality is Signature Gin Bowls and on Sundays they also do a special Bellini Station! But it was their Nitro Espresso Martini (made from Climpson and Son’s coffee which they also serve) that impressed us the most. It was perfectly blended, very espresso and had a smooth, foamy sheen on top.
The Joker is indeed a welcome new addition to the neighbourhood. It is a local, independent, boutique pub that ticks all our boxes – gorgeous interiors, delicious food, friendly service and relaxed vibes. During the weekdays, it is also a perfect venue for freelancers to work-from-home-away-from-home. They have a pool table, board games and are a dog-friendly pub. In short, this is a place where you want to linger for longer. To say we are beyond chuffed that we can call this beautiful pub our new local would be an understatement. Who needs Zone 2 now!
Location : 73 South End, Croydon, CR0 1BF
Nearest Train Station : East Croydon, South Croydon