Revamped Hare and Billet

Revamped Hare and Billet pub

Notes on the rejigged Hare and Billet pub:

Bonobo beer – dark ale nutty almost burnt
Adnams – as you’d expect
India pale ale – nice
Oakham ales – Scarlet Macaw – didn’t try it looked interesting though..
Weasel Beer – likewise
Hare and billet bitter – as they had before

£9.10 for an Orchard Cider, a pint of Adnams, and a packet of pipers salt & vinegar crisps seems more than it used to be.

The free wifi is good, and actually works, which is more than can be said for many other local pubs. It’s run by The Cloud & Greene King.

The pub is still dog-friendly. Almost too dog friendly. Maybe just ban the small yappy-type dogs.

There’s music on but it’s not loud or annoying.

The pub smells better than it used to. It’s never honked like the bloody Railway, but definitely better now the loos are upstairs.

Speaking of the loos, there is now a massive empty (as of 5.30pm on a Saturday) restaurant area where the loos and kitchen used to be. I wish pubs wouldn’t differentiate between drinking and eating. Ten empty tables, with everyone else huddled at the front drinking.

All in all though, it’s a good revamp I think.

Lamp and window in Hare and Billet

New menu in Hare and Billet pub


Filed under blackheath, food, pubs

61 responses to “Revamped Hare and Billet

  1. Ed

    Went on on Friday . Nice refurb but not the usual ales …. Food seemed pricey. Place was packed with twenty year olds so not the usual crowd …

  2. Frank Bath

    I’ve yet to see but I’m glad to learn the drinking and eating areas are separate. In fact eating should take place elsewhere – in a restaurant. I’ll allow cold food.

  3. goodie

    Too expensive,Many of the former locals will not drink there.

    • Anonymous

      Quite agree. Went in there yesterday after the Race for Life. Paid £7.50!!! for 1 large lime and lemonade, 1 large coke and half a lager. RIP OFF!!!

  4. Chris

    “9.10 for an Orchard Cider, a pint of Adnams, and a packet of pipers salt & vinegar crisps seems more than it used to be.”

    That sums it all up really. You must be joking.

  5. Fairfield

    The prices are a rip off !

  6. Paul

    I went on Saturday with my girlfriend. Food is now at restaurant prices which put me off ordering anything and the drink prices are now on a par with central London, which is a shame. Overall the refurbishment is the standard ponceification of an old pub you seem to get everywhere now. It’s a better refurbish than The Crown got… which has now become my least favourite pub in Blackheath. Overall a nice place for the bankers to go after their meal in Buenos Aires Cafe… where they can mix with all the poncey 20 somethings who will willingly pay £4 for a cup of peanuts. A dull uninspired makeover which will come to reflect its customers…

  7. Paul

    Oh and your right Mr Bugle about the smell in the Railway… It’s still beats the light smell of sick that can be smelt in O’neals pub of a Saturday morning…

  8. Fairfield

    The Hare and Billet has not been a proper pub since the 80,s .

    The last refurb changed the the pub irrevocably , and this one is worse .

    I much prefer The Crown , at least it it looks and feels like a pub and has reasonable prices .

  9. Went last night and thought it was alright. Got a seat next to the fire and had a decent pint, which is hard to argue with on a chilly night. Bit of a strong smell of bleach around the place, though.

  10. John

    More expensive than the city, £4-50 for a pint of estrella, and a long hike for the little boys room. Don’t think they know if they want it to be a pub or restaurant! Shame really, know it was going down hill since the old landlord left about 4 years ago and filled it with mini cab drivers, but have killed it as a pub now!!!!

  11. Kate

    It’s nice the revamp but £1.50 for a bag of crisps, yes £1.50 !!!

    • Bob Land

      It is the same over here in Holland, all the shopkeepers, publicans, traders,and the rest, have all gone mad, when it comes to pricing their wares, there used to be a thing called ” value for money ” wonder where that went to ?

  12. Mick

    I went for lunch yesterday and had a lovely pint, nice food and really personable service. Yes, prices have gone up but I’m not sure what we expect in a place like Blackheath when you factor in things like property prices and the relative wealth of it’s inhabitants.

  13. Paul

    This is the same chain who own The New Cross House. Now if you look at their menu and compare you find a large price hike for the Billet. As the post above mentioned they have factored in the relative wealth of the residents, while missing the point that most of the people who live in and around Blackheath don’t live in 6 bedroom houses. It will be interesting to see if it continues its brisk trade once all the initial interest has died down…

  14. Nice revamp and good beer selection. Looking forward to the promised Kernel beers on draft. Was packed with families when I popped in Saturday, most of them eating. Not the same pub as it was, but it hasn’t been for a long while. I do miss “brown” pubs.

    Even if pricey, it still has to be the best local pub. All the others are OK at best. None terrible, but none outstanding. It’s not quite in Blackheath but the Dacre Arms is the only ‘proper’ pub in the area. Will certainly give the H&B are few more tries at different times of the week before judging. Purely in the interest of research, of course.

  15. Jon Lee

    This place has a better beer selection than any other pub in the area. The food looks pretty decent too. The revamp looks really good. An average pub has been turned into a (potentially) excellent pub/gastropub. A very welcome addition to Blackheath.

  16. Paul

    Off the subject… but has anyone else noticed the Sun Bo take away has had a refit too… I’m not very impressed. They have seemed to reopened it as a fried chicken shop with cheap deals to lure in school kids… I never thought such a shop would be allowed to be opened by the council… I know it still sells Chinese food but did the council know what else they would be selling??

    • Dom

      Also, you need a pair of sunglasses in there with that lighting. Went in for a chicken chow mein, came out with a headache.

    • Robbo

      Paul – I think you need to cheer up a bit mate.
      I think this is an excellent refurb. Fantastic leg beer selection – so nice to see some a ‘craft beer’ pub in the area. Particular highlights are the Meantime, Kernel and London Fields. Great selection on cask too.
      Menu looks interesting – not your typical pub grub.
      This place is streets ahead of anything else in Blackheath – only The Union down Royal Hill rivals it (and yes, that is in Greenwich).

  17. Eve

    Plus does anyone what’s happening in Cave Austin ? It’s all bordered up ? Refit or closed down ?

    • Paul

      I don’t really go there much… only in the summer as they have a nice garden out the back… I hope its a refit – there were work men stripping everything out when I walked past the other day.

    • Anonymous

      Cave Austin = new front [won planning appewal]
      Stitches = promising looking takeaway
      Cactus Pit = new streak house

  18. Si

    That’s great news about the cactus pit . I hardly ever saw anyone in it ( apart from the basement disco) . I wonder if its a chain steak place or an independent .

  19. scott

    I went for a beer tonight expecting something special from the reviews…it’s nothing like a good pub in London. It’s no Southampton Arms, Euston Tap or even the Harp. The selection of beers is no much to write home about either. As for the price, well you get what you pay for. I’d rather pay a bit more than drink in a wetherspoons…

  20. Kate

    Cactus Pit a new steak house, it’s not like you can get a decent steak in Buenos Aires or Cote, slight mistake here I feel.

    • Richard

      Much like Venice restaurant filling the gap in the market in Blackheath for an Italian. Some restaurateurs are staggeringly thick.

  21. Simon

    Well it seems to me if you need to revamp a traditional public house and empty it of its previous regulars and locals then pass it on to Capital Pubs and they’ll do an excellent job for you. I once read a review of the H & B in which it was said the pub offered a sanctuary in Blackheath from the invasion of weekend ‘Chavs’ from Bexleyheath. However, the new H & B range of premium strength lagers, some so strong they can only be served in half pint glasses, seems to indicate the sort of customer the pub now wants to attract. The real appeal of a local pub is surely the eclectic mix of its patrons and not the overpriced ‘Gastro’ foreign dominated beer experience now offered. The Hare and Billet has achieved what poor service, bad food and rank beer usually do…. an almost complete walkout of the very people required of a popular village pub. I am led to believe the food is excellent though more expensive than fine restaurants in the village though in the restaurants you are unlikely to have a noisy Chav’s arse in your face while you’re eating. The pub seems to be empty weekdays Monday to Friday with few lunch time diners and trade seems to pick up from Friday through to Sunday. The prices must bear some responsibility for that. The location means little passing trade will enter and certainly not when seeing the food prices listed outside. I find it very hard to understand how a pub can close and reopen some 5 weeks later and a pint of Guinness, poured by an imbecile, has increased by 80p and the cheapest lager increased by 60p a pint. Lagers are what I would describe as premium strength most around £4.50p a pint and the very mention of Fosters and Carling seem to be met with a snooty grin. I would advise anyone not to stand at the bar and order 2 drinks with only a tenner in your hand as you likely to get a nasty shock. I was told of 2 elderly ladies who popped in one afternoon for 2 glasses of pleasant though not exceptional white wine and 2 packet of crisps and got little change from £15. They nearly passed out when told the 2 packets of crisps were £3. Sadly, the Gastro Pub experience will probably succeed though more as a restaurant, certainly not a local pub. It would have been nice if the current manager(s) had engaged the locals when they took over the pub prior to the revamp and shared the ‘vision’ with them but I guess that sums the situation up in terms of engaging locals, Do Capital Pubs really care about a local pub as long as the money flows in. They need to hope trade picks up and increases particularly with summer approaching because the lost customers will not be easy to get back! Like many past regulars of the H & B I knew the pub was tired and in need of a revamp but I feel the result has robbed locals of what was genuinely the last bastion in Blackheath for them to enjoy a beer, an uncomplicated pub meal and to catch up with all their friends triumphs and woes. Chavs rejoice and enjoy, the village has offered up another establishment for you.

    • scott

      Fosters and Carling deserved to be treated with contempt. The foreign muck you refer to is much more palatable.

    • Bob Land

      Probably all true, what you say. But the cost of the refurb. has got to be clawed back, hence the hefty price increases.

      • goodie

        Incorrect the cost should be factored into a well run business. It is called depreciation. I spend upwards of £ 150 a week in there. My friends and associates similar. Between us about £2500/£3000 a week. Last week they got £ 4-50 and the beer was awful. I left.

    • Richard

      “However, the new H & B range of premium strength lagers, some so strong they can only be served in half pint glasses, seems to indicate the sort of customer the pub now wants to attract.”

      And your thoughts on the 2.2%-3.0% ales that are also available there? No fruit machines, no Sky Sports on all day. No Stella, no Carling. To think that this establishment will attract chavs is wonderfully laughable.

  22. Bob D

    I have some sympathy with both sides of the camp here. I sort of miss the buzz of the locals and have nothing, unlike John above, against cab drivers!! (The locals he is referring too in his snobbish manner are normal working people) Been in during the week and its dead and feels cavernous. Go in on the weekend and you cant get a seat unless you have booked to eat. It used to be my local and for the above reasons has ceased to be! Having said that i’m checking out the food on friday night!! I like a local gastropub in my area I just it wasn’t this one!! One issue is the rise in prices. I understand that they have done this as they maybe want to attract a new crowd and pay back for the refurbishment. But I have noticed the clientelle has totally changed and they don’t seem like the kind of crowd who will come back regularly. For this place to survive it needs to fill those weekdays and nights and it used to be the locals who filled that void. They have now gone. Good luck but might not be around for long.

  23. Ed

    I’ve heard that Costa is closing , does anyone know if this is true . I have been going for many years and will miss it . Lots of seats downstairs . It’s always busy but I believe it’s the rent.

  24. cliff

    the beers in the H&B are nice, if pricey but with regards to the food; 2 courses for £9.95 in Cote Brasserie, £16 for one course in the H&B? Cote is packed morning noon & night, H&B not, they’d do well to do a bit of market research

  25. tallgables

    I really like the new look Hare & Billet – it’s a vast improvement on the former version and has led us to decamp from our regular haunt of the Greenwich Union. The food is way above average and completely differs from the standard fare you get in all the chain restaurants in the main part of the village.

  26. Kate

    I agree with tallgables, the food is head and shoulders above any of the Blackheath restaurants, it is quite pricey but the menu is well thought out and you won’t find the dishes elsewhere . The atmosphere in the pub is good too and the staff friendly.

  27. Richard

    I would be happy to pay a premium for a pub jam-packed full of regional ales that change weekly and has, what, 8 pumps and 12 taps to choose from. Glorious. My pints of bitter on Sunday were £3.75, to give another price perspective. The food may be a little more pricey than the chains that proliferate Blackheath but – again – I’m happy to pay a premium for food that is designed by the on-site chef than just the decree of the chain’s food policy (see the similar menus in the Railway and Princess of Wales). And judging by what was on the menu over the weekend, this is much more than just “pub grub” and also judging by Sunday’s crowd there then it’s obvious that Blackheath *has* the clientele that are prepared to pay £16 for a plate of food as it was rammed with diners. I am unashamed to say I’m one of them. This pub – for me anyway – is glorious.

  28. P

    “Where shall we go for a drink?” I would always choose “The Hare and Billet”. It has recently been sympathetically renovated and looks fantastic. However, when a friend and I returned to the newly revamped ‘pub’, we were shocked by the prices!! Our usual bottle of white wine had almost doubled in price and we could not order a bowl of fries or olives to have with our drink. One of the staff stood on the table with his shoes on to write on the menu board, but didn’t wipe down the table afterwards. I was so disappointed, as I was really looking forward to the re-opening of the Hare and Billet. My husband and I have frequently taken my father-in-law there for lunch on a Saturday, as it’s been my husband’s favourite pub for the past 30 years. However, I do not think this will be something we will be doing in the future, as my father-in law’s usual choice of steak and ale pie (a real traditional pub lunch) and mine and my husband’s reasonably priced fajitas are no longer on the menu. These have been replaced by a menu which include prices more indicative to the ‘restaurants’ in Blackheath. This was a friendly local pub, and although it’s true, it did need sprucing up somewhat, the atmosphere has gone and my plate of chips are no longer available!!!

    • goodie

      You are quite right. It has become somewhat pricey and pretencious. No longer a pub and not a restaurant. What is it? Empty on the 4 times I have been there and the last time the beer I had was awful. My usual spend in an evening there would be about £ 19-30 (within an hour and a bit) for myself. A similar drinks order would now be £ 25-50. A 32% uplift. I and, my friends who no longer go there, would spend about £ 250 a week there on average. Last week they got £ 4-50 from me.

      I used to take my sister there for Sunday Lunch and suggested we went there on a weekday last week, no atmosphere & exorbitant prices. £ 15-50 for mackerel ? She took one look, turned and walked out. We had an excellent meal at the Cote Brasserie, served by attentive and professional staff. £ 9-95 for 2 courses. This week we are going to Chapters for lunch.

      I have business colleagues coming in from Genoa and Marseille this week and they are staying locally and wanted to try a local traditional pub for an evening meal. Looks like either the “Tolly”, Ashburnham or the Guildford, all in Greenwich. The Village no longer has a decent pub………..!! There was a niche to be filled in the Village, something of the nature of the “Tolly”. An opporunity missed? A shame. I have used the pub for over 40 years.

      If I want expensive pub grub I will, when in Town, go to the “Guinea”. Decent beer, excellent food and a wonderful atmosphere

      • To each their own. The Village now has one of my favourite pubs in London, in my humble opinion.

        In sumtotal, Blackheath has two pubs for moderate dining (Railway and Princess of Wales both do half-decent food) two more “boozy” boozers in The Crown and (even more so) in O’Neills, one proper well-kept local’s boozer (Dacre Arms) and one place for higher-end food (Hare and Billet) – and an enormous range of booze. I’d say Blackheath is spoilt for choice now.

  29. ellie

    Interesting comments on the re-furbished Hare and Billet. When comparing pub food I’m not sure when Mr Dixon was last in the Princess of Wales but my friends and I not only think the food is disgusting the beers are truly awful too which is such a shame as this pub would have so much going for it if properly managed. I also think if you want to have a meaninful comparison of the food in the Hare and B to other establishments you have to accept it is now more a restaurant and should be measured in terms of service, quality of food and menu to other gastro pubs and restaurants in the area not any of the others simply selling pub grub. I believe they would then be found to be significantly overpriced and lagging behind most. However, I agree with certain comments regarding TV’s showing sport and there being boozers pubs in the village but the result of this refurb has left the village without a pub where my husband and I can relax, chat with friends and familiar faces and enjoy a reasonably priced drink in the atmosphere of a local village pub. I may be wrong but the refurbed Hare and B does not seem to be home to many regulars of the village which is a terrible shame because with a little more thought and effort I think both could have been easily achieved.

  30. Bob

    Well I have been recently for dinner and it was very nice even though our table was shoehorned in next to the waiters workstation and till so was a rather busy area. I would definitely go back and it’s not what I would call pricey. Steak was lovely but nothing compared with the amazing Buenos Aires cafe!!

    I made comments earlier in this blog on this pub, but being an ex-head barman I have to relate two issues which rankle with me.

    The first is not exclusive to this pub, but I hate bartenders giving you a drink with their fingers around the rim of the glass. This is basic training and I have now seen this twice in the H and B from different bartenders. How am I to know where the bartenders fingers have been. In the dishwasher, up their nose? This is really basic.

    Secondly, I went in on tuesday night and the place was quite busy. I went to the bar and got out a fiver. I looked along the bar and there were another 5 or 6 people with a note in their hands looking peeved. I asked the barmen if there were any more staff and he said “Yes there are but they appear to be hiding”. I left and went elsewhere.

    I just want to say that it does not take much to put someone off a bar and customer service is number 1 for me.

  31. goodie

    Went to the Rose & Crown to meet colleagues from Marseille and Genoa. Beer excellent. Stayed for lunch for 4, lovely pub food no pretension.

    We had 12 pints of beer, 6 bottles of Malbec 4 large Cognac’s and then to Olivers for another 3 bottles of wine. How many people. Four of us…!!

    Money is not the issue. Value for money and atmosphere is. Total spend for afternoon. About £ 350-00.

    Same venue next week, probably or Guy Awfords “Guildford..”

    Who owns the Rose & Crown….? Right there wrong here…!!

  32. Ben

    I’ve been in the Blackheath area for about 6 years… I only went to the pre-refurb H&B a couple of times – it seemed like a pretty average pub back then.

    My first impression of the refurb was that it was basically a box-ticking exercise in what’s popular with the trendy bloggers – craft keg beer, sherry list, etc…

    However, I had to admit that it is well executed, the bar staff are friendly, the food was very nice, and there are loads of beers to choose from that change regularly. I must say I warmed to it a lot after my initial impression, and we’ve been back there several times. Blackheath isn’t exactly well-served for pubs – I’ve never been very fond of the Railway, Crown or PoW, so I’d say the H&B is probably the best of the bunch. I like the Dacre Arms (as a good example of a “real” local pub), but I don’t live on that side of the Heath any more so probably won’t be in there much.

    The rumour about the Cactus Pit is interesting – I’d certainly be glad to see the back of that place… although I’d echo the comments about not needing another steak place with BA cafe, Chapters and Cote just a few doors away. Blackheath could certainly do with a decent quality non-Indian Asian restaurant – a good Japanese place would do well, I think. Or even a Mexican place that is actually Mexican and serves good food…

  33. Rod

    The plan for a steak house (Cow arm of the Gaucho chain) has apparently fallen through, though the Cactus is still likely to change into something else relatively soon.

  34. Ed

    No steak and ale pie ! No burgers either . Had to leave without having food.

  35. Amanda

    I went to the Hare and Billet with friends for lunch. I had not been since it had its refurb as I had heard mixed reports. Prior to that, it was my favourite Blackheath pub but it is now off my list of pubs I would recommend. A friend had a pint of Guinness at £4.30! you can get it cheaper in west end pubs. I don’t know if the H&B wants to be a pub or a restaurant but whatever its aims, it fails at both.

    The food was rather bland. One of my friends chose the duck which was overcooked and another had the liver which was sent back as it was simply dreadful. The hake however was acceptable but in all, the prices were high even for an establishment promoting itself as a gastropub. The waiting staff were however polite and receptive but I did notice them remove some plates of food left with plenty on the plate – one can only assume it was not enjoyed by fellow diners. This was saturday afternoon and only 3 tables in the restaurant area were occupied. They also added a service charge which I don’t recall being featured on the menu. This old pub on the edge of the heath has been ruined. It wasn’t broken before so why have they tried to fix it? If anything, it needed tweaking a little but what we now have is a pub restaurant which I could never recommend to friends, nor would I visit it again. On a scale of 1 – 10 I would give it a 3 and thats being generous – we should have gone to Pizza Express!

  36. cliff

    went in last night at 5.30, dead doesn’t get close to describing it; the two of us brought the total number of customers up to 6! two pints of beer £7.40. by the time we left after an hour there were about 15 people in.
    I hope they do some special promotions a la Zero Degrees or something otherwise I fear the worst :-(

  37. Robbo

    Cliff and Paul, like the majority of you on here, are working class heroes harking back to the old days. The beer is expensive because of beer duty. I know because I work in the industry. Plus most of the beers are from small breweries, who need to charge higher prices in order to stay afloat.
    Sadly beer no longer costs £3 a pint. Live with it, or go for a pint up on Shooters Hill.
    The H&B, by the way, is an excellent pub that befits the area. Great food, fantastic beer (that offers CHOICE!! unlike the majority of other pubs in the area).
    I suggest that all of you miserable old buggers go and drink elsewhere.

    • Anonymous

      And, by the way, beer does still cost £3 a pint. Well, pretty close to it anyway – I paid £3.20 at another local pub last night.

    • Anonymous

      I’m all in favour of choice. Other pubs have a few guest ales but keep the regulars. NuH&B changes just about all beers every few weeks. I find one I like and it’s gone before I know it. The bar staff seem to have no idea how and why beers are chosen for change.

    • cliff

      no need to get personal Robbo, we’re all entitled to an opinion.
      I like the H&B, it’s an attractive pub inside & out; if you read my post you’ll see that the gist of it is that I’m concerned for it’s welfare given the small number of punters in there.
      eating & drinking in the village is a competitive business, people vote with their feet; I’m sure (hope) the new owners know what they’re doing & adapt to pull in more customers

  38. Beefy

    You can always drink half pints which are half the price

  39. Jaybird

    Went in today for the first time. I very much like what’s been done to the building – it’s nice and light, but still keeps the essence of the old pub. The plan was to have a pint with a friend, and see about some lunch. But the prices rule out such an informal possibility. £15 for 2 courses, mains at £7 upwards; not the hint of anything smaller than a pricey first course. And not a glimpse of anything so prosaic as a sandwich, even a fancy one.
    Not surprising it was virtually empty. As we left to go to the Crown, the girl asked if we wanted to order anything, and I wish I’d said all this to her.

  40. Anonymous

    Wondered why the H & B didn’t display its food hygiene rating like most places do, so thought I would check for myself and now I know why! A very poor 1 star. How do they manage to charge so much for the food and drink but cant get the simple things like hygiene right!!

    • It is indeed the case that we scored a one star rating. Our inspection took place literally days after we re-opened & the low score was largely due to all our documentation still being at head office after the refurb. Lewisham EHO had no issues with the structural condition of, or processes in the kitchen, other than we hadn`t completed a risk assesment for our vac-pac machine. We did ask for a re-score but they are, as you can imagine, pretty busy, so we are still waiting on that.

      Hope this helps.


  41. Kim

    What’s the point of a Rating system if when you get a low score you just say did not have enough paperwork …

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