Same old, same old. When it comes to English pubs, wait, hold on … when it comes to the English and pubs, the association is stronger than say, them and the Union Jack. It’s almost mandatory for every country to have at the very least, one English pub. However, it is probably this feeling of familiarity that catapulted the Penny Black to its success of never-ending-never-dead status.

Perhaps it’s the location, perhaps it’s the place itself, but the Penny Black never seemed to be in drought of a crowd. If anything, it is in need of more tables. Located strategically right at the entrance of the Boat Quay lane, it’s hard to resist the temptation of its atmosphere. There’s an almost executive cheeky-ness with its after-work crowd of bankers, lawyers, executives and basically, a large population of Singapore ’s financial district. While they’re not rowdy (not at the time we were there, anyways), the ambience was lively alongside the Singapore river.

The two-storey shop house comes with al-fresco dining options, outside the pub itself and on the second floor, and a tavern-esque main floor. Littered with weird street signs from London , the first floor comes complete with high tables, cloisters and a long bar. The wooden architecture that fills the room, gives off a cosy English home feeling, discounting the wooden fire place. The second floor resembles a living room, complete with sofas and a snug little corner called the Victorian Courtyard, for outdoor dining. The music is very contemporary but, then again, who pays attention to music when they’re in a pub?

Happy hour was not that splendid though, with mere cut-offs of one or two dollars from its original prices. However, the wine list is extensive and there is a hearty list of food. From classics of fish and chips to local dishes with an ang-moh twist, this place provided two good excuses for patronage … dinner and drinks. And in true English tradition, the beer list will make any home-sick Brit feel as at home as he can be. Some of the brands they have on tap are UK ’s Strongbow Cider and the Irish fave, Kilkenny.

The service staffs, on the other hand, try to give as much attention as possible to every request. But, with the ratio of staff being grossly uneven, you can almost excuse them for not being able to attend you immediately.

Of course, what is an English pub without its sports? EPL games and live rugby matches are screened religiously here, when in season. Huge plasma televisions are set up outside the pub, and the fans will come in throes. There you go... another excuse.

Essentially, the Penny Black is more about soaking up an atmosphere that is almost hard to encapsulate. There’s always a crowd everyday and for some reason, you will want to get into the culture of drinking and be merry, as much as you can. It’s all about being a jolly good fellow.

Written by:
Aslinda Khanafi