Sunday 12 May 2013

Park Tavern and Bankers Draft, Eltham

I've now been in South East London near the Eltham area for three months. Living down here has its advantages - it's affordable, fairly safe and it's near the M25 for a quick escape. There is one glaring problem though - a lack of decent pubs. Most of the pubs in the area aren't particularly appealing, with the "eclectic" customers mainly sticking to lager or Blue WKD, from what I can tell when I hurriedly walk past the pubs desperately trying to avoid eye contact. Sometimes they're drinking both, resulting in them leaning against a lamppost puking up liquid that's the colour of every Skittle mixed together. As a skinny, white, and slightly snobbish gentleman of 31 years old, I don't really want to drink in these places in fear of my face being punched or glassed in.

However there is one nugget I've found in this sea of crap. One pub trying to turn the tide of sub-par pubs in Eltham is the Park Tavern. This little boozer just off the high street is a welcome respite from the grim lager dispensing pubs/cattle markets, including the Old Post Office just across the road. Walking into this small, narrow pub I was warmed with the sight of several handpumps with a selection of tasty ales on offer. This is such a rare sight in Eltham that for a second I thought I had actually been glassed to death by one of the patrons of the Old Post Office and I was having a delirious hallucination while doctors frantically tried to save my life. I soon realised I was in fact still alive and firmly in reality when I was charged £3.75 for a pint of Rudgate Ruby Mild. There is no way I would charge myself that much for a pint in my dreams. The pint was very tasty though, in good condition and the subtle chocolate and mocha flavours coming through well.

Despite all the good things the Park Tavern had going for it, including a warm buzzy atmosphere, friendly staff and a very well kept pint of mild, I just found the prices to be too much for a pleasant local. I haven't returned since my first visit because if I'm going to pay high prices for beer I may as well do it in one of the many pubs in Central London after work, which offer a more exciting selection, rather than in the wilds of South East London. It's just too high a price to tempt me out for a couple of pints.

After my one and only visit to the Park Tavern I thought I may as well stop by the nearby Wetherspoons in Eltham before heading home. The Bankers Draft is tiny for a Wetherspoons, in fact it is rumoured to be their smallest outlet. A decent selection of ales were on offer and I went for the St Davids Ale from Brains. The beer was in OK nick, and it was stunningly cheap compared to the Park Tavern. But this is a odd Wetherspoons with many a "character" to be spotted. Despite the pub being very small, everybody was keeping to themselves and there wasn't much mixing amongst the clientèle. To be honest I felt this was a blessing and me and The Lovely Jemma were able to enjoy our drinks in relative peace without having to strike conversation with what appeared to be the local crazies.

Apart from these two pubs I haven't found anything nearby worth drinking. In fact since I moved to the area in February two pubs have closed down and one was nearly bought out by a local developer. Somebody please come to the Mottingham/Eltham borders and build a nice, welcoming pub with a decent selection of ales. You'll be guaranteed at least one customer! I'll probably stop by as well.

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