Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Ladywell Tavern

Although I've visited London a number of times, I'd never quite managed to make it into a pub. It always worried me that the children would not be accepted. This is mainly because I'd been warned by Brits and non-Brits alike that children are not always welcome at such veritable English institutions because alcohol is served and/or patrons don't like to be bothered by them. Since we weren't solely interested in drinking, and our main focus was on having a meal out, we never took the plunge.

We were staying in Ladywell which has only one pub in the area, the Ladywell Tavern on Ladywell Road. I'm glad that on this occasion, I decided to enter it with the whole family and simply ask the staff if children were allowed in, and of course, they were (as long as they didn't ask for alcohol to be served to them). Ladywell Tavern is well-known as a drinking hole, as well as for its quiz nights (which we chanced on - good entertainment value!) and, most importantly in our case, good pub grub. It even won Pub of the Year in the Lewisham area which is quite a feat, given that it's not actually located in the heart of Lewisham, a much bigger area in London, which includes the posher Brockley suburb. 

Ladywell Tavern specialises in burger meals. They serve their hand-cut chips in silver pails. The steak was a little tough (I thought only Greek beef was tough), but it had a smacking flavour that I don;t think Greek beef matches up to. I ordered traditional sausage and mash, which was excellent: the mash had mustard, onion and leeks mixed into it.

The whole family was charmed with the pub's decor: beaten-up sofas and wooden tables and chairs, creaky floorboards, old-fashioned standing lamps, and generally speaking, a sense of homely comfort, enhanced by dim lighting. The dining area was separate from the general drinking area, where the quiz night was also taking place, and although we were the only diners (the other customers were all drinkers), we didn't feel out of place, perhaps because we were a group of six and rather loud in our own Mediterranean way.

We asked to try a variety of different beers, all of which tasted quite different to the beer we're used to drinking in Greece. Each beer had a very strange name: the only one I remember was St George's Dragon.

The atmosphere was inviting, the staff were very friendly and the food was very good indeed. A small note on English beer: do London pubs always serve it warm and fizzy, like lemonade, in small glasses? I was expecting to see a large glass with ice-cold beer, just like we get it in. Oh well, it was quite cold outdoors in mid-April; perhaps the staff didn't want me to catch a cold.

As I took in the general banter, I wondered how transferable this kind of business is in Greece - could a traditional Greek kafeneio be revived by running a quiz night and serving simple meals? It's worth a try. And one more note on ordering beer in a London pub: you have to pay for it before you drink it (unless you put it 'on the tab' - by showing your credit card).

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