Richmond’s once-vibrant drinking scene has stagnated over the last couple of decades. Most pubs have taken the easy option of depending on a frequent-but-shallow stream of regulars who are set in their ways, and consider ‘redecoration’ to be emptying the ashtrays. Those who have ventured from this formula have met with sharp spikes in custom before falling back into line, a question mark hanging over whether it was all worth it or not.
The latest establishment to try and break free is based on the former site of The Lot. Money has been spent. A courtyard, a quaint bar, another brighter-lit bar with a kitchen, an upstairs with a popular miniature games room (four armchairs and table football) and a garden gives you enough to explore and choose from. Emphasis is on service. Staff are attentive and well dressed in ankle-length white aprons, and there’s no wait at the bar. Sit outside in the courtyard and they’ll bring you blankets for your knees; bring in a dog and they’ll serve a bowl of water for the mutt – you get the idea.
They fail miserably on their selection of beers: a small selection of Europe’s finest lagers and one pale ale were all that was on tap on our visit; bottled craft beer was also available although not obvious. Spirits are served in double measures – although they warn you first – while cocktails come at the sharp end, as does the food. A club sandwich was £14.95; roast cod and lentils was £17.50. Still, it keeps away what riff-raff Richmond possesses (if any). Punters appeared to be mainly ladies who continue after lunch and first-daters out to impress, but we’re assured it’s very busy on Fridays (in particular) and Saturdays. It remains to be seen if this one will be the one to break the mould.