The Culpeper is one our fave pubs in East London and we’re not the only ones who think so because the ground floor bar is always bustling and the rooftop is super popular in the summer. Now thanks to a recent refresh, the first floor dining room is set to go the same way. The interiors blend industrial accents like exposed brickwork and fixtures with soft lighting and touches of greenery, creating a lovely, lived-in feel that’s also pretty romantic come evening.

As well as the new look, there’s a new bistro-style menu. The Culpeper team takes sustainability seriously, using well-sourced, regenerative produce, including some ingredients grown on the pub’s own rooftop. The menu is kept deliberately tight to keep the offering fresh and waste to a minimum.

There’s a heavy French influence on the kitchen and we just leant right into it with oozy Comté cheese croquettes, followed by a very well made steak tartare complete with a golden egg yolk, and a sizeable deep fried pork bonbon, its richness tempered by acidity from pickled walnuts, mustard dressed leaves and apple puree.

The mains were similarly hearty – a rib-sticking cassoulet with confit duck, pork belly, Toulouse sausage and braised mogette beans was the best kind of brown food, with a big assist from pommes anna chips. The bouillabaisse, with classic accompaniments of powerfully garlicky rouille, Comté and croutons, boasted a deep bisque but would have benefitted from some more fish beside pollock and mussels.

We almost didn’t make it to puddings – it may be bistro food but it’s definitely pub portions – but we found room for the cherry & almond tart. There was definitely space for some more cherries in the warm, spongy wedge of frangipane but it was impressively light for a such a sturdy looking thing, and offset perfectly with a scoop of creme fraiche.

The Culpeper has long been a great place to drink and now with what the kitchen is producing on the first floor, it’s a great place for a dinner date too.

40 Commercial St, London E1 6TB