Situated on the busy surroundings of Putney’s Upper Richmond Road, the Prince of Wales has a chequered history. At the start of 2011, it was an unexceptional neighbourhood boozer, mainly frequented by people needing a drink before or after getting the nearby tube. It was then taken over by the owners of Highgate’s extremely fancy Bull & Last. The atmosphere split. The back room began to resemble an upmarket gastropub, with extravagantly priced food to match, but the front room still felt like an unexceptional scratcher. Despite the odd gushing review, business wasn’t brilliant, and so something had to be done.
Enter the Food and Fuel group, owners of such establishments as The Roebuck and the Lots Road pub. With a clear track record at making ‘difficult’ sites work, they set about finding a happy medium between over-gentrification and making sure that this would want to be the sort of accessible, pleasant place that would cater both to casual drinkers and people who wanted a more esoteric dining experience. Thankfully, they’ve succeeded admirably.
The stylishly decorated back dining room, as before, manages to have a marvellous feeling of light and space, as well as a rustic atmosphere, allowing visitors to gaze into the open kitchen and look at the delights being prepared. Dishes are modern British, with some nice twists. My starter of duck and black pudding salad is unusual because the duck comes as small pieces of breast rather than the shredded kind that I’d half-expected. My companion’s starter of scallops might not have been the biggest portion I’ve ever seen, but it was of a very high calibre nonetheless, washed down by a superb glass of Viognier from the comprehensive and well-priced menu.
Main courses are where the kitchen really gets going. A fillet of veal was just the right size and had superb, succulent taste – it’s a very tricky meat to cook to precisely the right standard, but they managed it admirably, making for a delicious dish, just as my companion’s salmon was really very good indeed, using fresh ingredients perfectly. Desserts of cardamom crème brulee (excellent) and Eton tidy (the name is probably the best part of it, but good nonetheless) continue what is a very decent meal.
You could say that high-quality local gastropubs have dominated south-west London for too long and that greater diversity and culinary daring are needed. To which the only reply that can be made is this: as long as places like the Prince of Wales are doing a job of this calibre, there’s not going to be any call for them to stop.
The Prince of Wales, 138 Upper Richmond Road, London SW15 2SP, Tel: +44 20 8788 1552
A chequered Prince of Wales displays calibre this time ’round
Situated on the busy surroundings of Putney’s Upper Richmond Road, the Prince of Wales has a chequered history. Alex Larman investigates its latest makeover by the Food and Fuel group, owners of such establishments as The Roebuck and the Lots Road pub.
Alex Larman woke up at the tender age of 23 and, Martin Luther King-like, announced to the world that he had a dream. He was simultaneously going to write the 21st century's answer to Ulysses, direct the film that the bastard child of Scorsese, Kubrick and George Formby might have made and become a global roue on a hitherto unknown scale. Then reality kicked in, and the dream collapsed, in favour of a parlous and occasionally sketchy existence maintained writing about food, drink, film and all the other essential requirements of a modern boulevardier's life.
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