One of south London's most venerated pubs has reopened.
It's been 15 months since Fuller's purchased the Half Moon in Herne Hill, although the pub's been closed since the burst water main flood of August 2013. The Great Wen has a lot to say about why the pub remained closed for so long.
Fuller's has had quite the responsibility in refurbishing the ornate boozer, which opened in 1896. It's where Dylan Thomas occasionally drank after watching rugby matches nearby, and maybe even where he began to piece together the beginnings of Under Milk Wood. The pub has also seen performances from U2, Eric Clapton, and an impromptu performance from Frank Sinatra, who dropped in to visit his old chauffeur.
Aesthetically, they've done a good job; the refit sees the pub's original windows, woodwork and painted snug mirrors brought back to former Victorian glory.
A new dining area lends the building a more contemporary feel (it'll work for some tastes, but not for others)...
...and offers some stonking looking roasts. Mike Blizzard — formerly of Shotgun BBQ, Avenue Restaurant & Bar and Bar Boulud — will be heading up the food offerings.
There's a spruced up beer garden and BBQ area too.
The biggest change to the previous setup — and one that's caused some controversy — is the addition of 12 boutique bedrooms. They're named after the 12 men who've walked on the moon, and we can't work out if that's a nice touch or a tenuous one. But that's not the big issue; The Half Moon was previously a vital live music venue, and the use of this performance space for the new kitchen has ruled out a return to live music. As Brixton Buzz reported last year after speaking to Fuller's: "We were told unequivocally that Fuller's is not interested in running a music pub."
Sure, they may have the odd jazz quartet in the corner, to accompany your lamb and roasties, but if a music legend like Sinatra happens to pop in, they'll have to perform a cappella. On a perhaps less important note, none of these pictures show a TV — something which won't amuse sports fans. Maybe Fuller's just haven't installed a plasma screen TV yet.
The added boutiqueness of The Half Moon is a move away from the local boozer vibe, and will prove a disappointment to some who've come to know the pub well. On the other hand, Peter Blair, from the Save the Half Moon Campaign has described the project as "a complete triumph", and Herne Hill has regained a handsome pub — and one that's likely to prove popular.
We just hope Fuller's will be reinstating that legendary list of barred characters: