A few months ago, Kirsty pointed out to me with some excitement that an old dive of a pub in Wallington (S London suburban town where I grew up) had been bought by the Antic pub chain, which we knew well from various places in both SW London and the City.
This meant Wallington was finally going to get a gastro type boozer that would also have great real ales. I’ve always been amazed that Wallington, a fairly mixed area that has a pretty significant affluent population lacked such a thing. Lots of 20-30 somethings get on the train every weekend to go to this sort of place in balham or clapham.
So what’s the place like? After a little while getting comfortable in its skin and building a new kitchen, it’s very much the standard Antic proposition. Good food, probably that bit better than it has to be; well kept local ales and some good American craft beer as well.
The beer and food combo really does deliver. Great Sunday lunches, with particularly good Yorkie puds and very good roast potatoes. The starter of crispy squid and carvalo Nero shows the kitchen has more skill than usual in a pub. Bouncy, dry, crispy squid with punchily flavourful garlic mayo. Not usually found in Wallington. Nice clean pint of Cronx (I’ve had lots of good small brewery beer) and then a Lagunitas to make sure I snoozed well when we got home.
I really like the chain and the Wallington Arms delivers on my experience, which goes back to the EDT, Tramshed and Balham Bowls Club about 8 years ago. I wonder whether the move to Wallington (and Bromley) is about following their customers from used to drink further into London (like me) that have bought houses to settle down and have kids in suburban London where there is far less competition for this sort of proposition, but plenty of market potential.
You either like Antic pubs, or you don’t. I know people that think they’re just as soulless as Weatherspoons or any other branded pub / restaurant chain. They think the artifice of bric-à-brac, books, mis matching furniture etc is just a branding affectation.
I think that’s a massively snobbish attitude that only considers part of the Antic offering. The beer and food are great. They’re normally run by smart young(ish) men and women who do a very good job. There for a chat if you want, leave you alone if you don’t. Passionate about their job, because that enthusiasm is shared by their customers. Yes I’d prefer more comfortable chairs, and maybe a bit more light, but it’s a small price to pay.
The Wallington Arms is one of the best boozers in the area. As is the case with the Sun in Carshalton it is great for a swift half, a proper session, a light meal or a banquet. When I’ve been it’s been child friendly, but I doubt there are many kids there on a weekday night slurping down Lagunitas.
Well done guys, great boozer. I’ll be back.