I may have my reservations about the micropub model, but the welcome from owners and customers is often an exemplar of how you want to be greeted in a pub.
One pub to go to complete the set of London GBG ticks for this year (take that BRAPA !), and an unusually difficult one.
Not because the Upminster Tap Room is inaccessible, just the usual micropub opening hours. 60 miles as the crow flies, two and a half hours on the train*; that’s the advantage crows have in completing the Beer Guide. At least I collected all the stamps for the District Line on the way.
My knowledge of Upminster is patchy, though I do know Ian Dury is supposed to have falsely claimed to have been born here. That’s an easy mistake to make given how young you are at birth; I often claim to have been born in Stockport.
And you won’t starve. Rarely have I seen so many cafes and restaurants in a two street town, or so many schoolchildren scoffing sweets on their way to Creamz, the go-to name for calorific ice creams, a place that marks a town out as liveable.
Not many pubs though. A boxy late ’60s place near the station, a boxy Spoons-like place (Crumpled Horn) that was in the Beer Guide years ago and now a Marstons eaterie, and the Tap House.
I’m first in at 4pm, and greeted like I’ve just come to give them the award for South West Essex London CAMRA Pub of the Year, which they’re clearly thrilled about.
From NHS days I know there’s huge overlap between SW Essex and east London either side of the M25, though Upminster is proudly London. You don’t get Rod Stewart picture discs in pubs in Grays.
Over a lengthy chat with the landlady of the Tap, I learnt more about Upminster’s high performing schools, and other factors contributing to house prices,than even I could hope for. And I’m very nosey.
The Tap has had a colourful history, and is clearly filling a huge gap for folk who want a proper pub. The Dark Star was superb (NBSS 3.5), and I even got a little bowl of fish biscuits brought out with it. They weren’t as good as the fish biscuits in Altofts, but those were 90% salt.
Hard to fault, a worthy POTY, and a model in customer service.
Picture discs apart, the place is packed with quirky objects brought back from the owner’s home in France. I have no idea what the sign in French says, but no doubt one of you will.
*On no account attempt to drive into Upminster by the way. We did, once, looking for Corbetts Tey. There are NO parking spaces and clamping is an art form.