Sunday, 24 January 2016

BRAPA - Posho South West London

Tom, Dad, BRAPA debutant Eddie and a naked lady enjoying a drink & chat (pub 791)
Having left York at 8am, arriving at Kew Gardens tube station approx 10:45am was about as good an outcome as me and Dad could have expected.  We saw Tom lurking on the railway bridge like an underachieving fairytale troll, and I was ready to begin ticking some new pubs in the name of BRAPA.........

Arriving at our first "pub" of the day.
787.  Tap on the Line, Kew 

It's probably not a good sign when I admit that the highlight here was being outside it!  True, it might not look like a pub in any traditional sense but I liked the garden pavilion Victorian style design that probably is supposed to remind you Kew is more famous for pretty flowers than proper pubs.   We entered a pretty soulless bar area where women, pushchairs and families enjoying smoked salmon on toast were the order of the day.  I was suddenly conscious of my Hull City shirt and how much I was dirtying the place.  Initially, I could only see 3 Fullers ales and the Oliver Island was served ridiculously warm.  I'm not a fan of cold beer at all (hence why I drink cask, not keg) but this was like drinking a liquefied human organ.  We later spied some taps at the back of the bar, Tom thought perhaps they were 'hidden' gravity beers which would explain why the GBG said they'd be some guest ales aswell as the Fullers.  We sent Dad to investigate but one taste of a Camden Pale later, I don't think they were gravity, but refreshingly 'cold' (and fizzy) and though I don't believe in conspiracies, I did wonder if this 'pub' serves the cask so warm so you can see the contrast!  

Putting a brave face on it, as I wait for a Gunnersbury train.
We missed a train by seconds so Dad took the above well considered photo, we'll make a David Bailey of him yet, and a few mins later, we were at the next stop up the line, Gunnersbury, a shortish walk to our next pub.  And this pub didn't need inverted commas! 

788.  Old Pack Horse, Chiswick

It was a timely reminder that Fullers own some cracking old buildings, and what impressed me here as it had done in Totternhoe (and others) last year, is that they are very good at keeping their dining areas separate from the drinking areas, so much so that if you stayed in the main bar, you might not even know food existed here.  I only knew because I had to walk into this area looking for the loo, where the bored food staff had nothing to do other than to act as 'toilet directionists' (if that is a job title).  The toilets had two different entrances/exists which I assume is very rare, a BRAPA first I thought but Tom told me the Fat Cat in Sheffield has the same, though I can't remember, the beer there is just too good.  We sat on some rather plush low sunk settees (not usually my choice), a bit of bench seating wouldn't have gone amiss, but it was nice to stare upwards and admire the ornateness over an pint of excellent pint of Adnams Ghost Ship.   

And this pub was an impressive inside and it was outside.
Dad had to go and meet his friend Eddie at a posho eatery in Parsons Green, though he'd done the classic Dad thing of saying "5 mins longer and I could've settled down there for the day!"  But BRAPA stops for no man and me and Tom walked to Chiswick Park tube where we took a short ride to Turnham Green.

789.  George IV, Chiswick

If George the ghost has really been haunting this place since 1777, he must feel he is stuck in a sort of purgatory.  I certainly did, this pub might be old but it made the Tap on the Line seem characterful.  I think the smell of food didn't help, neither did the sterile 'high-table' layout or the boring function room "Boston Room" towards the back which would have been a joyful snug in rural West Yorkshire.  As Tom pointed out, the food smell was set to 'roast dinners' which seemed all the more surprising when you looked at the pretentious menu.  Not even the beer good save it, I went for the Fullers winter seasonal ale, Jack Frost, having enjoyed it's berry flavors on my visit to the Brewery Tap a year ago last week, but on this occasion, the flavours didn't really come through.  Unless you are doing a BRAPA-esque challenge, I wouldn't lose any sleep about not coming here. 

Great pic from Tom, pubs looks ace, but it isn't. 
790.  Tabard, Chiswick

Even closer to Turnham Green station I found my next pub,  We just had time to squeeze another one in before kick off.  This was more like it, I'd actually assumed it was a Fullers pub such was my expectations in the home of the brewery, so I was obviously somewhat perplexed when I saw 4 handpumps, each with two pump clips on each.  Being a great mathematician, I can tell you that is 8 beers and no Fullers in sight!  I know I looked perplexed because an Aussie barmaid (who wasn't currently working like all good Aussies) decided to help, and was very much in favour of me trying to Wimbledon Common Pale, so much so I asked if she had shares in the brewery but such subtle 'humour' went over her head.  She also thought me and Tom had just come from playing football, obviously looking exhausted by our Saturday pub travels to date!  Sadly, time was at a premium by now but we found a delightful little area at the back of the pub with little snuggy areas (and we weren't even in rural West Yorkshire) and nice tiles.  I can see why it is Grade II listed and had I glanced upwards, I might have seen a first floor theatre.  Very good.

Back on form at the Tabard
After a very hard fought win for the Taaargers at the lovely Craven Cottage, we met up with Dad and Eddie and took the tube to South Kensington for a final celebratory 'tick' of the day.

Quite a nice tube station entrance, could be a pub!

791.  Anglesea Arms, South Kensington

The neighbourhood (if you can call it that) seemed as well-heeled as it comes, but lacking in pubs, and off the main road, we found an incredibly busy place with young rah rah types spilling out into the street / smoking area.  The staff (mainly east european barmaids) were on the ball to help us get served in ultra quick fashion in what was once apparently a Charles Dickens local, though a bit like Dick Turpin up here, he probably had about 500 local pubs.  We squashed into a corner at the back where the cutlery and sauces didn't seem to be getting much usage, good I thought, well until we got comfy resting on them and then everyone decided they wanted to order food.  But for the most part, this was a fantastic drinkers pub, tonnes of atomsphere with a friendly feel and proper pub decor.  Not what I was expecting, so always a nice bonus.

After an amusing journey back to Kings Cross on the Piccadilly line where I met the stereotypical 'crazy-don't-make-eye-contact-or-engage-in-conversation' chap, there was still time for a swift half at my pub of the moment Scottish Stores, and once more, I was amazed by it's quality.  It was full of themed 60's hippies, so not sure why the affable barman thought I was "part of their group" unless they all wore 2009 Hull City shirts on their days off!  Anyway, blackcurrant cordial is free and the stout I ordered was absolutely beautiful, one of my pints of 2016 so far and the lack of seat didn't seem to matter much.

Then it was time for an Upper Crust Italian and the 8pm train home surrounded by Newcastle fans.



  1. A classic day in so many ways. Old Pack Horse was really comfy - I could have stayed there...! Re Scottish Stores - pubs with only high tables and seats seldom appeal to me , but the great atmosphere on this occasion more than compensated. How long will it keep the ale quality in such a busy location, I wonder. Here's hoping.

  2. Have you got a direct link to your poll, as I think it's worth spreading more widely?

    1. Hi Mudgie, not sure how to do that, I'll see if I can find a way to do it using blogger.

  3. Glad you had such a great time (ha). I'll concede that those pubs are architecturally interesting though quite samey.

    Oddly, I had a really good pint of Pride in the otherwise horrific Kew place.

    The Scottish Stores is your imaginary "ideal" pub in Lomdon, isn't it ?

    1. Yes I think we were spoilt on East London trip and expected west n south to be as good!

      Wish I'd had the guts to stick to my ESB idea! Pride can be ok when on form.

      Haha not at all! I'd give it a better name than that like the Owl and Pussycat!

  4. "an underachieving fairytale troll". That is the nicest thing you've ever said to me. To properly achieve do I need to stay under the bridge?

    The garden pavillion is in a similar style to the famous big greenhouse at Kew Gardens, so I think you're onto something. By far and away the second best GBG pub in the district.

    I was actually disappointed with the George IV picture, I had been looking in vain for a way to cut out the car and the no entry sign.

    It is such a shame that the Australian off duty barmaid doesn't qualify for the brunette competition, she had everything in her to win. If I had realised at the time I think I would have found a way for her.

    The win was not hard fought. It was one of those 1-0s where a talented but half arsed side beats a crap but eager side with the aid of some good fortune. The ball didn't strike the keeper after the post as we pondered, so not an OG.

    Did Charles Dickens ever actually live in London or Middlesex? My previous understanding was that whilst he sometimes stayed there for work purposes, he was always a Kent boy, in which case it would be like calling the Stick and Twist your local. Is my historical knowledge wrong?

    I have a way of attracting people like Piccadilly Line man, but not often on the Underground. Sorry to have left him with you, but red pen is important. Make life easy in a few years time.

    I note the changes on the left - very good. I shall work out how to operate the playlist at some point. I may have accidentally voted twice in the poll, ironically by trying to work out if I had gone wrong before because it didn't seem right - my vote should be staff and atmosphere. Appologies, I hope I'm not imprisoned for attempted fraud.

  5. Tap on the Line was fine when I went last year, although the staff seemed to act like it was a Boho-chic coffee shop rather than a pub, Kew is a strange sub-culture though.

    That painting's face has a strange element of your sister about it.

    1. Welcome to the fold Krimbo! My sister? That is frankly worrying and wrong!

      Tap on the line had a few good points, but failure to behave like a pub is it's main problem.