Hundreds of years later and the pub is still here, serving a wide range of locally-sourced craft beers and feeding wimple-free locals with residencies from a variety of London-based food stalls. One thing I particularly enjoyed about the pub is that it does a good job of combining a pub-pub setting with eclectic decoration: old wooden beams frame exotic depictions of worldly nuns, and bathroom doors are plastered with (literally) smoking women of the cloth.
The first thing you go to a pub for is the beer, and this is something that they have definitely got right. There is a good selection of different ales from a number of London-based breweries, including those in Gipsy Hill, Peckham Rye and Balham.
Better still, the staff are knowledgeable as well; it’s a bit of a turn off when they just read the tasting notes with the same tone that you usually hear terms and conditions being read out in. I’d recommend trying SE27’s finest Southpaw Amber Ale: nutty on the nose with a bittersweet finish, it goes down all too easily.The second thing you go to a pub for is the food. The Old Nun’s head doesn’t disappoint in this respect. They operate on a residency system: Burger Bear are in the kitchen Monday, Tuesday and Saturday, Greek dishes are served up by I Should be Souvlaki on Wednesday’s, Thursday is a monthly rotating residency with dishes of Thai from Tam Bam at the moment; and on Sundays you can get the pub’s own roast. Got all that?
My visit was on a Burger Bear day, who get a thorough endorsement from me. I had the Angry Bear, the spiciest of the bunch. The patty had a kick to it without being corrosive. A problem you can often find with a menu’s token “spicy” dish is that that they prioritise the spice over the flavour, but not so here.
The burger is made fresh too, which obviously makes the world of difference, especially in comparison to places like Five Guys that charge nearly the same amount and take nowhere near as much care. Make sure you don’t skip the chilli fries either, a generous portion that seems to replenish itself as you go along – and a good hearty side for your burger.
All in all, this is a pub that deserves to still be standing at least another, oh, three hundred years from now. Make it a habit. Boom.