A Pub for All Men (and Women) – The Crown Tavern, Lee:
Young’s Brewery have reinvested the money from the sale of the Wandsworth brewery site into their pubs, with The Crown in the south London leafy suburb of Lee benefiting from a stylish refurbishment.
It’s a large pub, with gardens to the front and rear, a restaurant to the rear, a separate bar and function room on the 1st floor, and a large bar to the front of the ground floor.
Many of the popular pub’s original fixtures have been kept whilst the new interior gives a nod to the pub’s historical links to the original railway line in Lee that ran behind the Tavern, without over-doing the theme. Design features include booths styled like train carriages with antique lighting and luggage racks, travel-stamp print upholstery and vintage railway signage and maps.
It’s come a long way from the nicotine stained pubs of yesteryear. Whilst we were there, there were a group of locals at the bar who had been drinking there for years. Initially cynical about the re-design, they now love it, and also bring their wives and girlfriends as it’s lost that macho pub feel and is a much more welcoming place to have a drink or a meal.
I always think that you can tell a lot about a place by the standard of the toilets, and these were lovely I thought!
Head chef Tristan Downes was attending his fiancées’ graduation the day we visited, but his kitchen staff did him proud. We chose to eat in the bar area as it felt cosier on a damp late autumn day. My partner started with smoked gin cured salmon with pickled beets, radish, watercress and chervil crème fraÎche, whilst I tucked into mackerel pate with sourdough toast – one of those retro dishes that may not be fashionable but is still very tasty!
For our main courses my partner chose Wild boar sausages, served with white truffle mash, crispy apple and shallot gravy. These were declared delicious and a great match for his Young’s pint! I opted for sea bass, which was pan-fried to perfection.
I was really too full to have pudding, but in the interests of the review, forced myself! Sticky toffee pudding seems like the ultimate comfort food and given the grim weather that day I justified it to myself. My partner opted for the Banoffee pie, which seemed to disappear in seconds.
Throughout this, we observed the staff warmly welcoming both regulars and new customers and engaging in conversation across the bar. It’s really lovely to find a pub where this still happens, so many bars have become very chic but lost that personal touch in the process. The Crown Tavern has managed to get this just right. If this was nearer to where I live, I’m certain that I would become a bit of a fixture!
Disclaimer: We were guests of The Crown Tavern
The Crown Tavern
117 Burnt Ash Hill
Lee, London SE12 0AJ