After a change of hands and another refurbishment, the Emperor reopened in January 2016 as a “Latin tapas bar” with “a Latino atmosphere”, achieved with a menu of Latin tapas and a colourfully tiled bar. Presumably Latinos know to never do anything by halves, as two half pints of keg Freedom IPA came to £6.60; hold the chillies, my eyes are already watering!
It wasn’t always so. Formerly the Globe, just over twenty years ago it had six beers on handpump and three on gravity, an Easter Beer Festival offering pints of mild or bitter for £1.60, while £2 could get an Owd Rodger, Robinson’s Old Tom, or Exmoor Beast. It was in the 1997 Good Beer Guide, which described “the living room effect of the carpeted upper split-level”, since removed, “off-set by the cafe-style bare boards and rugs of the lower level”. In 2010 it was taken over by the landlord of the Empress and renamed the Emperor, delighting situationists by revealing a beach beer garden with real sand, ropes, netting, buoys, and real plastic seagulls. Sadly the tides of change washed it away and by 2013 the beach was back under the paving stones. Likewise, the round (yes) pool table, bar billiards and darts still listed on the stencilled window were nowhere to be seen, downstairs at least (I’ve never been up to the function room).
Now wearing a coat of the lively latino colour black, it’s a place I’ve passed often without trying out, never quite sure if it was still a pub, or had become a restaurant where I’d be obliged to order food. Well it’s still a pub of sorts, with most people only drinking when I visited, and the trade quite transient, presumably people on their way to or from the Station (the owners believe the clientele is about 30% regulars, with the majority of people attracted by bachata and salsa classes). But after paying £6.60 for two halves (only £6.20 for a pint, mind), and having previously had an excellent pint of Brewsters Hophead for £3 at the Smokeworks just along the road, the price of the Emperor’s new clothes was laid bare.
Evans, J. (1997), Good Beer Guide (CAMRA)