I didn’t actually realise Surbiton was a place until I started visiting the Beer Guide pubs in SW London. I’d always thought it was a borough name like Elmbridge or Merton. The geography around the Kingston/Surrey borders takes some getting used to.
I’m still not quite sure what distinguishes it from Long Ditton and Kingston, but I guess that’s the nature of suburbia.
There wasn’t much unique to see in the run from the station through Tuesday’s freak snow shower, but the Antelope turned out to be one of London’s best pubs.
It’s certainly one of the few pubs in the capital where I’ve seen cask the dominant drink, and by a younger crowd too. The home-brew seemed particularly popular, and following the crowd is a wise choice. The Big Smoke pale was superb (NBSS 3.5), though again from a terrifyingly large range.
Distressed furniture, check shirts and vinyl records might suggest hipster central, but this was a comfortable place with plenty of older drinkers.
For complete contrast I could have paid a trip to Woodies in New Malden, one of the great communal pubs with the memorabilia of a busy micro packed into a cricket pavilion.
But I’ve done that before, so instead I walked in the other direction to Woody’s (no relation) in Kingston town centre. This is certainly quirky too;
Yes, you can sit in half a bath here, and yes, the other seating is uncomfortable. No, the expensive beer doesn’t get close to making up for this mess.
Only two beers on (By the Horns), so you could hardly blame an excess of pumps for the quality. Perhaps py is right, stick another four beers on and quality would soar.
An ex-workmate I trust raved about the food here, and I suspect that makes up for a lot. The place is clearly very popular, possibly with people who like to see floppy discs on tables for no reason. Simon Everitt, get here quick (before end of August, anyway).
The views to the Thames aren’t bad here, but I was more taken by the river leading to Kingston Market Place, one of London’s great underrated squares.
But folk go to Kingston to shop, not to drink. Woody’s aside, there’s only two other Guide entries in town; a decent Spoons and the ever-reliable Willoughby.
Goodness knows what’s happened to the many back-street locals that made a trip to Kingsmeadow a pleasure in years past. I bet AFC Wimbledon can’t wait to move to Merton, that real ale mecca.