The Express Tavern, at Kew Bridge, was the ideal place to stop for a spot of lunch on last Saturday’s somewhat frenetic tour of south-west London. Our tour organiser had not only chosen wisely, but had done his homework by pre-arranging our stopover at the pub. The result being that we arrived to find the back room reserved for our party, and the tables laid out ready for dinner.
This was my first visit to the Express, although I have driven past it on a number occasions, in a previous life. I had done a little research of my own, by looking at the pub’s website, prior to our visit, and must admit I liked what I saw. I considered the menu, and selected several options which took my fancy. I was also impressed by the photos, which showed that the pub had retained much of what must be its original Victorian interior.
The Express Tavern is described by WhatPub, as a friendly free house, which is thought to date from the 1860s. It has thus been a local landmark for more than 200 years. The pub reopened in September 2014, following redecoration and some tlc. There are two drinking areas, plus a rear dining room. The smaller of the two bars is on the right, and boasts 10 hand pumps, whilst the larger Saloon and Lounge bar on the left, has five ciders/perries on hand-pump.
The pub is actually in Brentford, although Kew Bridge is the nearest station. We arrived by train, fresh from our visit to Kew Brewery, and then walked the short distance along to the Express Tavern. I hung back and crossed the busy main road, so as to get some good photos of the pub, and seeing it from the outside confirmed my memory of having driven past when I was working in Hounslow, during the early 1980’s, whilst on secondment from my company in Tonbridge.
|An enjoyable lunch|
Hanging back, and letting my friends and CAMRA colleagues go in first, had the advantage that most had ordered their beer by the time I strolled in. I therefore had a clear view of the bar, and the selection of ten different ales to choose from. I started off with a pint of Daymer Extra Pale 3.8% ABV from the Harbour Brewery Company. I’ve had good experiences in the past from this Cornish brewer, and I wasn’t disappointed this time round.
I joined the rest of the party, most of whom were already sat down at the largest of the reserved tables, and were busy perusing the menu. The pie of the day had already caught my eye, and a friend, who knowing my preference for a “proper pie”, had already asked the waitress as to whether the pie had the right “credentials”. Fortunately she confirmed that the meat and gravy filling was indeed completely encased in pastry, and that Saturday’s variety was steak and ale. I duly ordered, selecting mash, rather than chips, to go with my pie.
Before the food arrived I made a trip to the bar, and ordered a couple of halves; Mad Squirrel London Porter 5.0 % ABV and an old favourite from the past – Draught Bass. The Bass was very good, and I’m pleased to report that I wasn’t the only person to go for it. Given the Red Triangle and the words “Draught Bass” in large letters, along the frontage of the building, I thought it only appropriate that we should be drinking this once legendary beer.
As I said at the beginning, the Express Tavern was an excellent pub for lunch, and it was also a real delight to the eye. The character of this lovely old Victorian building has been maintained, and original features such as the old fireplace and bar counter have not only been kept, but have been restored so as to display them at their best.
I am really glad that we stopped there, and I highly recommend a visit should you find yourself in the Kew Bridge/Brentford area of west London.