• SHARE

When John Coyle, Ivy Neo and Gary Hier first teamed up to create What the Dickens!, the massively popular English pub in Ebisu, neither they — the publicans — nor us — their patrons — could have guessed what would come from such humble beginnings.

Town Cryer has friendly service and plenty of drinks.

The three remain partners, though Gary has occasionally hit out on his own to involve himself in other projects. The most successful of his breakaway efforts has undoubtedly been the Barge Inn in Narita, fueled by a captive clientele of in-flight crew and passengers laying over at Tokyo’s official yet inconveniently located international airport.

The three recently regrouped forces to hit upon yet another neglected segment: the workers in central Tokyo. Ironically, these inner-city salaried employees have had far fewer entertainment options than their counterparts elsewhere in the city. The denizens of downtown’s towering monoliths, which spread row upon row throughout the central business district, have previously been forced to head elsewhere to seek entertainment after work. But with the opening of Town Cryer right in the heart of Otemachi, they now have the option of unwinding closer to where they work.

Barman John Coyle shares a toast with a patron.

Town Cryer is tucked away on the sixth floor of the Sankei Plaza Building, though even armed with a map it will be a little difficult to find. On first seeing me enter, John exclaimed jovially, “How on earth did you find us?”

True to the tradition of Tokyo’s neo-English pubs, Town Cryer is a large comfortable room divided by wooden balustrades into smaller, more intimate areas. Typical pub paraphernalia — pewter plates and mugs or framed fragments of art — is tucked into and tacked onto every available surface. Wherever you sit, you will find something interesting hanging nearby. One fresh touch are the large panels, also used to break up the space into smaller, more user-friendly areas, which are cut out with stenciled images of well-known aspects of life in the modern metropolis, like mobile phones and laptop computers.

The bar is a comfortable height, where a fully grown foreigner may stand and lean and order from a variety of beverages on tap. Options include lagers (True Blue, Lowenbrau, Asahi Super Dry), bitter ales (Bass, Old Speckled Hen, Abbot, Boddington), stouts (Guinness, Murphy’s) and cider (Dry Blackthorn). These brews are augmented by a variety of bottled quaffs, notably Fosters, London Ale, Guinness, Hobgoblin, Newcastle Brown Ale, Samuel Adam’s Boston Lager, Samuel Smith’s Pale Ale and Pure Brewer’s Lager, and Two Dogs. To help you further enjoy these fine brews you will find are a variety of pub lunches and dinners available (though fish ‘n’ chips is only on the menu at night).

When my friends and I first heard of a pub opening in Otemachi, we joked about whether or not they would have a live video feed from the nearby immigration office so we could lodge our visa and re-entry applications then slip off to the pub to wait our turn in comfort. Though, of course, this is not the case, it might be worth considering . . .

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.