I had no expectations when I arrived at the playful and hip Star by Hackney Downs on a Sunday afternoon. It was for a friend’s birthday and with three little boys to consider – all under 18 months – we weren’t quite sure how it would pad out. Charlie has just started walking too and is bumbling around at breakneck speed whenever he gets the chance.

But this place has all the hallmarks of a cracking Hackney boozer. There’s not a shred of pretension, the food is delicious – think big, tasty portions of classic pub grub – and the private room upstairs was a perfect spot for our terrible trio to run riot while we huddled around the mammoth dining table and tucked into our roasts. The Yorkshire pudding was nearly the side of my head and the saddle of lamb, a triumph. Service was swift and our waiter couldn’t have been more helpful, despite nearly tripping over the kids and the balloons they were throwing with gusto.

What I really loved though was the first floor’s interior. It’s gritty, arty, and rough around the edges – check it out…

I really want some light fittings like this…

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This is the door to the private dining room – LOVE it.

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Next door, this is the opening to the smaller private room – a bit like a secret living room…

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And the wallpaper along the main corridor is awesome…

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All a little bit piddly and loving our life, we headed downstairs where the turntables were playing some laid-back reggae and the bar stools were filling up for some last-minute Sunday boozing. For us, it was time to take the kids home, but for the rest of them, it looked like the retox was just beginning.

If you’re looking for an East End pub that’s characterful, cheerful, plays great tunes and doesn’t look down at you for bringing in a hoard of kids, the Star by Hackney Downs is a winner.

Oh, and here’s a picture of my roast… yummy!

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