everything but the food…

THIS week I found myself in a bit of a quandary. For me, a great local pub should comprise of the following elements: a good crowd, reasonably priced drinks, and deliciously enticing pub grub. So what happens if it ticks two out of three boxes. And the missing link is the food?? A vital ingredient surely, as your local should not only be the watering hole, but also the place in which to satisfy your carb attack the following day.

The pub in question that raised this dilemma was The Wandle. A friend and I were house-sitting in Earlsfield, and so naturally had to check out what the area had to offer. The Wandle consists of an interior that is eclectic yet not overdone: old cinema seats fold out in front of a large fire, old Beano cards are used for bar tabs; and an exterior that encourages use of the garden as though it was your own: patches of lawn, sofa areas, cosy nooks and – most surprisingly – an unlimited supply of topless athletic bodies sported in the glorious sunshine by large groups of guys…

And so, in search of somewhere to recover from the night before, and in preparation for the night to come, we entered this haven of a pub garden to refuel our battered bodies. And how magnificently our new local failed us.

Due to the jumbled assembly of the menu, and its lack of any substantial pub grub unless you fancied a burger, we haphazardly ordered a couple of picky bits off the menu to satisfy our initial hunger. Let down number one: the salt and pepper squid. So thickly breaded was the squid that you would have been forgiven for not even finding it sealed within, except for the fact that it was a test of strength to simply bite your way through the ring itself. This may have been vaguely rectified had not the coating itself consisted of solid stodge, misleadingly described as having been seasoned.

Let down number two: homemade scotch egg with tomato chutney. I feel like scotch eggs are undergoing something reminiscent of a revival. It seems that many of the pubs I’ve been to recently boast arrangements of gourmet versions of the picnic fave (in addition to pork pies) housed beneath over-sized bell jars. Having not yet sampled this new wave of bar snack I decided to give one a try. The scotch egg itself was quite tasty, if not slightly over fried. What staggeringly disappointed with this dish was the surrounding mess. A salty  green sludge masquerading as a dressing had been slopped unnecessarily about the board – missing its counterpart: the salad. And the ‘chutney’ was what appeared to be half a can of tasteless chopped tomatoes, sprinkled with a dash of black pepper on top.

Finally, what had been described as ‘crusty bread and butter’ (forgive me for thinking that this may mean a basket containing hunks of fresh bread with lashings of butter) in fact arrived as uncomprehendingly thinly sliced specialty bread that took crusty to another level: stale.

Perhaps I was expecting too much from my temporary local. The cumberland sausage in a bap from the BBQ was good enough.

The Wandle provides by far the best setting for a lazy pub day that I have come across this summer – the lack of clothing possibly swaying my view slightly. And I can imagine that in the winter its dark-wood panelled interior lit by a roaring fire must kindle the desire for a cosy evening indoors. Just bear in mind that a venture to The Wandle should be for everything but the food…


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