Where the rewiring of motors, fans and pumps once filled the place with copper wire, The Earlsfield now has four diverse drinking and dining areas. A front bar soaks up the crowds; a mezzanine level allows them to spectate. A cute conservatory-style room attracts brunchers. And a long arch, stretching to the commuter tunnel of the railway station, evokes the Chicago Rib Shack circa 1975 look with copper pendant lights, button-upholstered vinyl booths and bare brick walls.
Cocktails comprise tumblers brim-full of ice cubes with dashes of spirits. My signature Earlsfield (£6.90) was an undistinguished concoction of gin and lemon. Far better is the selection of bottled craft beers, including three ales from Tooting’s By The Horns brewery (£4.40 for our Wolfie Smith amber ale), and more from the Rocky Head brewery in Southfields (£4.20 for the Session pale ale). The wines are okay too, but this is really one of those bars that wins for ambience, not drinks list.
The menu is a homage to our allies across the pond, with ribs and steaks, but still enough British pub favourites to satisfy refugees from the area’s many Young’s pubs: fish pie, risotto, sandwiches, salads, samosas. Our beef brisket was a little dry and the promised wasabi kick in the veal jus wasn’t discernable, but the ribs were better, and side dishes such as the cauliflower gratin were up to task, as was an Amaretto cheesecake.
The primary attraction of this attractive bar is its cover-all-bases approach; it does brunch, dinner, bar and grill. It’s perhaps little surprise then that it doesn’t do everything well, but this is Zone 3, which is like Middle Earth if you’re seeking a fashionable bar.