This prominent corner pub opposite Tooting Bec tube used to be a rough diamond of a joint inhabited by a crowd of regular imbibers. Then Antic – who also run Tooting Tram & Social, Balham Bowls Club, and The Antelope in Tooting – took it over and did one of their characteristic faux-bohemian makeovers in 2011.
Then it changed hands again, after a scare in 2013 when it looked as if it might be turned into yet another Tesco. Tesco lost; the people won.
The new owners have given it more of a gastro-focus, and a very decent wine list now vies for your attention with the small but decent selection of ales. The food is pub-menu functional, done very well if not magical. There are annoyances, too: you get the occasional annoying drizzle on plates with a squeezy bottle; some meat is served on wooden boards; portions are biggish but there are restaurant prices to go with them. (A three-course meal for two with drinks and service can approach £100.)
In the early evening the room looks beautiful as light streams in from large frosted Victorian windows, giving it a very pleasant and comfortable feel. As the evening presses on, by about 8.30pm, it can get very noisy with pub crowds. It’s a good spot for people who want decent pub food – but nothing too challenging – for dinner. On our visit the service from the floor staff was sweet and perky.