This big old Wandsworth pub, just over the tracks from Clapham Junction station, used to be called the Freemasons and in recent years was a decent enough gastropub. Now, new owners have taken it over, and changed... not very much. It’s still high-ceilinged and has a continental grand brasserie feel to it, in a good way.
Beer-lovers will notice a difference though. Pride of place goes to the ale from Sambrook’s Brewery, called Wandle (after the nearby river). It’s a delightfully hoppy cask or ‘real’ ale, made in nearby Battersea by a new brewery (you can read more about Sambrook’s in coming weeks). Other draught beers include Brugse Zot (a Belgian blond), and Edelweiss (an Austrian wheat beer) , plus there’s Thatchers cider. Order lager here and you’re missing out on an array of superior lip-smacking treats.
So far, so good – the atmosphere’s friendly and busy, and our Hungarian waiter was charming. The menu now comprises simple pub food, and on the basis of our meal, the simpler the dish you order here the less there is to go wrong. A chicken pie was fine, though at nearly £11, we’d hoped for something better than the standard of dish you can find in many chain pubs. Seared salmon fillet was the best dish, served with lentils and chard, but at £11.95 it really should be restaurant standard. But braised oxtail (£12.95) was inedibly tough: we polished off the surrounding polenta but gave up on the leathery flesh. Our waiter apologised and knocked the dish price off our bill.
We like the Roundhouse as a pub, but the cooking on our visit was at best adequate, at worst poor. Pop in and enjoy a pint, but eat elsewhere until they’ve sorted the kitchen out.