Who needs the Tardis? This Balham High Road newcomer may have a short frontage, but step inside and you’ll find two bars, a dining room, roof terrace and even a patio garden, all spread over three floors. It may not look particularly slick or new, but that’s all part of the effect. Formerly a grim boozer, the site was taken on by the Antic Collective (who also run the nearby Balham Bowls Club and the Tooting Tram & Social), who have given it their signature ‘granny chic’ style.
So, yes, that raggedy old brolly upside down in the window is deliberate. As is the handsome wooden bookcase behind the bar, the frilly-edged lampshade in the corner, and that ageing piano out front. Not that there’ll be a singalong, though: these ivories are just for good looks. On our Friday night visit, there were mainstream anthems on the sound system (Queen, the Stones), while the stage in the lower bar will be used to showcase new bands.
From the main bar, you’ll not only get all the usual spirits, cocktails and quaffable wines, but a rotating list of beers that keeps it local, sourcing from nearby breweries such as Sambrook’s and Belleville (both Battersea), Meantime (Greenwich), and By the Horn (Earlsfield).
Or if you're here to eat, head up to the mezzanine dining room – a relaxed space serving pub-grub-with-a-twist. Our deconstructed spinach and portobello mushroom lasagne hit the spot, but a more amibitious ‘Kent-ucky’ fried rabbit (from Kent, geddit?) was a little on the dry side. A salad of yellow and ruby beets, the colour of the setting sun, came studded with charred walnuts, a sprinkling of broad beans and morsels of feta, and was the kitchen at its best: simple, yet homely.
Service, too, was thoughtful, with nice touches such as un-asked for carafes of tap water arriving with ice and a wedge of lime. You won’t find the Doctor here, but you won’t be made to feel like an alien, either.