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Formerly the Sekforde Arms, this long-standing Clerkenwell favourite has had a major makeover in recent years. So thoroughly has the place been scrubbed and rubbed and remodelled that it even opened for tours during the 2018 Open House weekend — a celebration of London's architecture.
To be fair, the Sekforde has always been a handsome place, as an end-of-terrace wedge-shaped building. The refurb has cleaned off the whitewash to expose more brick, remodelled the basement with some very eccentric features, and even added a guest house by knocking through to the adjoining property.
Despite the upheavals, the bar remains a jolly convivial place to drink, with dark wooden furniture (which actually matches — a rarity in the modern London pub), exposed brick and a central hearth that also serves to separate the two small bar rooms.
The downstairs space really has to be seen, with its striking mural of a country estate and some peculiar species of natural cooling/heating unit in the floor. The pub aims to be the greenest in London, and claims that the installation means it only use 15% of the energy of a conventional pub of the same size. Nice one.
Adding to its credit, the pub also puts on a regular series of lectures tackling 'the most difficult political, moral and scientific subjects of our time'. Add to that a pledge to donate all profits to its own educational charity, and we quite possibly have the most altruistic pub in London.
But does it serve a good pint? Yes. With the tie to Young's a fading memory, the pub now serves up a small but noble selection of ales, as well as catering for wine lovers with bottles from nearby St John's restaurant.
The place has changed radically from the down-to-earth corner boozer of yore, and some may begrudge the gentrification, but we were rather taken with the Sekforde's bold new direction. We'll be back.