Brockley Central Drinks III @ The Talbot

Last night's BC Drinks was a more intimate affair than our second outing, with about 15 readers turning up to see The Talbot before its rebirth.

Those who came were rewarded with a behind-the-scenes tour of the crumbling pub and a detailed explanation of the rennovation plans from the new management team, including Jamie, James and Tom.

The Talbot suffered more than a decade of neglect under its former manager and the walk-through revealed just how much work there is to be done, from basic wiring to the installation of a new kitchen.

Jamie, the manager who will split his time between The Talbot and the Honor Oak, explained that The Talbot will be a pub first and a restaurant second. The ground floor will be remodelled, moving the bar back to reunite the front and back rooms, but the seating layout will retain a "boothy" intimacy. The first floor will be completely restored and turned in to a dining room that will seat 30 people. Currently, the room is a dumping ground for 10 years of accumulated bric-a-brac, but even so, the potential of the space is blindingly obvious. A handsome, high-ceilinged room with windows on two sides and fireplaces at either end - it will be lovely place for lunch or dinner.

But while Jamie emphasised the pivotal role of drink, the Tiggerish new chef Tom was handing out sample menus (which we plan to reproduce on here shortly) and talking excitedly about his plans to grow his own vegetables at the back of the pub and the fact that he will be in the market for any locally-grown produce that people have in their back gardens and allotments. We were just happy to see a menu that didn't involve reheated hamburgers, but Tom's passion for food is obvious and, besides his training at the OXO Tower, he has spent years travelling round Europe learning about food. Most notably, his "Rabbit in Dark Chocolate" dish was copied from a Catalan cooking programme whilst on holiday in Barcelona with his mum.

James is the designer and promised a very different look and feel to the Honor Oak. Jamie spoke in awe of James' "mood board", but vowed to find a place for the neon cocktail sign that hangs above the bar and is just about the only working light source in the pub, once the sun goes down.

Even though a new bar manager is already in-situ and two skips-worth of debris has been cleared, final arrangements with Punch Taverns are not yet agreed. Though it is looking very positive, we must still wait with baited breath.

Above all, the team explained that The Talbot will live or die by how well it serves local customers. They can't rely on tourists and casual visitors, they need to attract a regular, loyal customer base, which means offering good, friendly service and listening to the local community. In that respect, last night was a great start and we're sure that everyone who heard them speak will be as enthused as we were. Even Tyrwhitt Michael, who was initially suspicious of the menu, seemed to have been won over by the end of the night.

Thanks to everyone who came. Again, one of the best aspects of the evening is that there were plenty of new faces, including regular posters, Sian and Bobblekin.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I will definitely make the next one!

Headhunter said...

Sorry I missed it. Last minute things to do... Anyway, looking forward to the grand refurbishment

Me said...

I popped in at 8 for a quick one before dashing off to my Salsa class. Managed to chat for a bit with Jamie and the guys and I liked what I was hearing, especially with The Talbot being so close!

Shame I couldn't stay longer and meet the rest of you. I did ask for my regards to be passed on!

- Sophie aka violetnights

tyrwhitt michael said...

(aka "Man in pub at Brockley Central Drinks" apparently.)

Seemed to be won over is appropriate description "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" as they say.

I always think the plainer the cooking the harder it is to do well. The true test of a menu to me, is a good steak and chips which I see is on the sample menu at the Honor Oak. Have to head south and try it sometime...

Hugh said...

Any fit birds turn up?

Headhunter said...

...And did anyone get ravished on Hilly Fields (by the stone circle, as per previous posts)....

TM said...

oodles hugh

Brockley Kate said...

Great to meet everyone and v interesting to find out about the plans for the Talbot. I hope that they strike the right balance between retaining the old crowd and drawing new people in - but it all sounds really promising.

Tamsin said...

Also sorry to have missed it - timings wrong and family to feed. A pity - I love poking around the back bits of old buildings.

Never mind - next time...

Brockley Jon said...

A good night was had by all, it's fair to say, and a fab write-up Nick, I must say. "Tiggerish" is the right word! Thanks to the chaps for chatting to us and showing us around. Hope you all enjoyed Meze afterwards.

Anonymous said...

Picture from the Brockley Central Drinks Party

Anonymous said...

Sounds fantastic - can't wait for the Talbot to open as the best pub in the area!

Anonymous said...

I wish they could do the refurb now rather than later in the year...did they mention when work would start?
Come on punch taverns, just let them get working on it! Can't wait to check out my new local!

Anonymous said...

looks like agood night was had from the pictures!!sorry i missed it.

JPM said...

Sorry I missed the night. I went in there the night before - and it was dreadful. Certainly hope the new management get a move on.

JPM said...

I didn't realise I was still there the following day too. Please don't show that photo of me anymore. It was sunstroke.

Anonymous said...
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