11 February 2009
Old Salt Quay
163 Old Salt Quay
A little bit out of the way, but being in a great location on the banks of the Thames more than makes up for it. With 'Gastro-pubs' everywhere, to see a pub that takes such pride in the diversity of its menu is a refreshing change, writes Toby Cook.
With the credit crunch in full swing, and recession the word on everybody's lips, drinking is fast becoming an expensive luxury - but as manager Owen Evans says: "We're trying to give a little bit back, because everyone's feeling the pinch."
Giving something back means a good selection of premium beers, priced between £3.80 and £3.05, but also selling bottled Carlsberg for £1.50 and 'Wine Wednesdays', where any wine in the house goes down to a more than reasonable £12 a bottle.
The real selling point of The Old Salt Quay is its food. When Owen and his wife Maggie took over last September, they reopened the restaurant and hired a head chef, whose last kitchen was in Buckingham Palace. The burger menu is fantastic, as is the range of food available in the Carvery on Sundays. But my advice? Pencil in a visit for the summer as well, when the 300 seat veranda will host a BBQ that will serve up everything from sausages to alligator tail and ostrich.
Let's be frank, the Old Salt Quay is huge. The space, however, is well used and the central bar and mezzanine level restaurant lend a degree of aesthetic intrigue. There are plenty of tables and seats as well as a sofa area in one corner, giving equally good views of the river and the obligatory wall mounted flat screen, constantly tuned to one digital music channel or another.
For a pub of its size The Old Salt Quay has a surprisingly intimate and warm feel - it's never going to have the same feel as a poky, local, south London boozer, but to be honest in this case that's a good thing. The sheer variety of what's on offer here is the real selling point. There's the sea food restaurant, the Sunday carvery, the pub food, premium beers, real ales, live music, the list goes on - without creating any sense of sterility.
Owen Evan - Manager
It was difficult first of all, moving down to London from up north - there's a different sense of humour! But we're getting used to it, and we're getting to know our customers - which is great.
Tom Cox - Barman
It's often very, very busy - especially on Sundays with the carvery. But even though it's a big pub you get a chance to actually talk to the customers, which is great.
Iain Cummings - Regular
I come here two or three times a week, it's a nice place - especially in the summer, out on the veranda. And the wine’s not too bad either.
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