Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Dysart Arms

From the outset, my expectations of this 'pub' were quite high. I've driven been past a few times and it has always looked quite appealing, given the Tudor-like architecture and views over Richmond Park.
After almost running over a few geriatric joggers, we pulled up into the car park and walked round to the front. We were welcomed by two huge windowless wooden doors, no clue to if this was the right way in. Once inside it's instantly clear this is not a pub at all. It's a restaurant that serves a beer or two. There are no soft furnishings apart from cushions on the wooden chairs, the tables are either covered in cutlery or leaflets, and the lighting is subdued and candlelit. There's some whining jazz music being piped out in the background and a full sized piano in the corner (I can imagine it not sounding brilliant with all the hard flooring and walls).
We walked up to what can only be described as a counter, where apart from Adnams, it wasn't obvious what beverages were actually available. Upon request, a heavily accented German guy pointed to each tap and said something incoherent, after the second try at this, we just opted to point at a tap with hope it was something drinkable.
Due to the uncomfortable atmosphere, cluttered tables and wanting an area that wasn't invading someone's dinner party, we ended up sitting outside in the cold until Andrew arrived.
The Dysart Arms hopes to cater for those who like to pretend they are a class above the rest. To everyone else it's yet another characterless gastro.

I wondered when I arrived why Alex and Oliver were sitting outside when it had quite clearly been raining earlier in the day. I got their orders and made my way inside to get the round in, and found first the unwelcoming solid wooden door with no windows, at first I thought it was a wall decoration and had a quick glance at the side of the building for the actual entrance, alas there was none and realised this was it. Went to the bar and had a look about while I waited to be served and the decor here was, well, plain. Stone floor, tiled walls, plain wood tables and chairs it was neutral colours all over. After looking at the drinks list (there was no other way to see what was on offer) I returned to the others with the drinks. When it was time for the next round we decided that it was too cold to sit outside anymore so headed in and I found the atmosphere as bland as the decoration, some jazz being quietly piped in around the place but that was about it. I doubt that I will choose to come here again.

Pub facilities / features:

Food served
Wine Menu
Some Real Ale
Outside seating
Car park
Depressing impersonal service

Two pints of Staropramen, orange juice:

Alex - 3.9
Andrew -3.0
Oliver - 2.8

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The Dukes Head

Although we spent 30 minutes driving around trying to find a parking space (and have since learnt there was a carpark), I can honestly say this is a damn fine pub.
The Dukes Head has the perfect balance of traditional character. It's hasn't tried too hard to modernise, and yet it manages to avoid old-man-syndrome. Being tucked away behind the station on a quiet residential road, it's great if you wish to avoid the high-street crowds. Groups of young and old, comfortable seating, proper ale and a bartender who looks like she'd not take any crap from anyone.
A hidden gem for sure.

This is defiantly one I would like to return to (and indeed have since our initial visit and must add the food is also good!). Defiantly a proper pub by definition of the word. Quite off the main road through Richmond this doesn’t see much in the way of passing trade and seems to reply a lot more on their regular locals which adds to a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere which seemed to be good for groups of all types and ages. If you’re looking for a place to sit down with friends and enjoy a few drinks then this is the place for you, if not then it’s probably wise to stay nearer the high street.

Pub facilities / features:

Food served
Real ale
Bar snacks
Sports screens
Outside seating

Pint of Youngs, two J2O's, orange juice and lemonade:

Alex - 8.9
Alison - 8.75
Andrew - 8.9
Oliver - 8.0

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Duke

Your typical gastropub, with emphasis on the gastro rather than the pub.
Getting our first round in, we were quick to note that the prices were rather steep, with some beers and ciders costing more than a Tesco Value Toaster (welcome to the world of increased duty).
We sat down at a table over by the front window and quickly became aware of a strange 'vibrating sensation' coming from the floor. For the couple of hours we were there it was nothing more than a light massage, but I reckon if you were there for the whole afternoon, you'd probably go numb from the waist down and have to drag yourself out the door using only your fingernails.
Overlooking the gastro there's an evangelical church, where dozens of cloned, little old ladies looking for redemption were hobbling out onto the streets during over the course of the evening.
To divert attention away from the hypnotising flow of grannies, I thought I'd try one of the £3 non-alcoholic cocktails, Mint Zinc I think it was called. It took 10 minutes to make and consisted of lumps of cucumber, sliced lime and crushed mint in a glass of ice. Perfect... if you want a face like a bulldog licking acid off a thistle.

I was late this evening so the guys had already had their first round in before I arrived. Quite a modern looking place with big wooden tables and chairs but still reasonably comfortable. There really wasn’t much to comment on this evening that Alex hasn’t already mentioned, maybe it was because 2 out of 3 of us were drinking for once (I drove), or maybe just the uneventful atmosphere in the bar, Alex’s weird concoction of a drink with, what I can only describe as a stinging nettle in it was the highlight of the evening. We left way before our usual departure time (which is usually when time is called or after) and believe the place was probably still open when I got home that evening, just wasn’t too much keeping us there unfortunately!

Pub facilities / features:

Food served
Bar Snacks
Real Ale (Tea / Cornish)
Wine Menu

Pint of Tea, orange juice & lemonade, orange Juice :

Alex - 6.3
Andrew - 5.3
Oliver - 6.0

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Crown

Being so far away from the town centre, The Crown's not going to draw a huge crowd, especially on a Tuesday. I was expecting that.
Arriving we saw three hunched over old regulars at the bar, one horizontally enhanced woman, two screens playing football and a barman. We ordered drinks and trundled off to the far wall, finding a place to sit down on two scrawled up leather couches (Wayne if you're reading this, someone with the initials V.H. left a message to say "you is well fit").
To give you an overview of the evenings entertainment, the main highlights were me knocking my pint over and a young lady walking through to use the rest-room.
With times as hard as they are, I'm not sure how long these places have left. Sure it was nice enough with good service and all, but it was a bit like an old retirement home. After these regulars go, who's left?

A very spacey pub, on the outskirts of Richmond. While it was not very busy there were a few in to watch the football but quietened down after it was over. This meant very prompt service at the bar and even when there was some spillage asking for some napkins to clear it up, the bloke came over to mop up the table and clear the empties.
An otherwise uneventful evening if you don’t count the car talk between Ollie and Omar, and the downloading and playing of Wolfenstein on my phone by Alex.

Pub facilities / features:

Food served
Real Ale
Bar Snacks
Sport screens
Outside seating
Commode amenities*
*Might be a lie

Pint of Fosters, 2 x J2O, pint of Youngs:

Alex - 6.0
Andrew - 6.1
Oliver - 6.5