What's the fastest way to Brockley's liver?

After a long period of decline, there are signs that Brockley pub scene is livening up, with two locals developing radically different strategies to win the affections of Brockley's boozers.

First up is the Wickham Arms, which according to an oddly lecherous review in the Pubspy column of the News Shopper, has started employing supermodels as barstaff.

Under the headline "Spy finds staff tastier than pint", the News Shopper's ageing reviewer proceeds to write at length about how fit the barmaids are:

"The barmaid reminded me of a cross between Duffy and Julie Andrews... If I had been 30 years younger I might have engaged her in a longer conversation than "a pint of Pride please.""

The Wickham gets five stars for the staff, but only one for the beer.

The Talbot's new management, on the other hand, plan to tempt you with food. Here's the sample menu which they unveiled at the recent BC drinks:

Spinach soup, Beetroot puree, Peppercorn Creme Fraiche
Brown Trout and Avocado Tian, Tree pepper Saucxe Vierge
Smoked ham Croquetas, Sage and Almond Pesto
Spaghetti, Garlic and Anchovy Oil and Pine Nuts
Classica Vegetable and Flower Salad, lightly spiced vinegrette
Petit Charcuterie of European Cheese and Meats, Grapefruit and Pickled Jalepenos.
Pan-fried sea bass, Confit fennel, Balsamic reduction
Baked trout, Tomato fondant, Dill sauted potatoes
Globe artichoke, Hollandaise sauce, Crispy fired leeks

Rabit and dark chocolate stew, Saffron spiced rice
Free-range chicken breast (roasted), Wild mushroom ketchup, Tarragon
Mash potatoes
Sirloin steak, Beetroot, and Potato Rosti, Seasonal greens, Red wine jus
Bread and butter pudding, Cream chocolate and Cranberry Almond tart, Vamilla ice cream
Appleas and Champagne jelly, Pera sorbert
Cheees plate, Quince jelly, Celery, Water biscuits
Bar food and lunch
Seasonal pork pie served with home mad epickles and Chutney
Ploughman's platters
Trout, Horseradish cream, Toast
Mixed platter

So which will win out? Brockley's stomach or its libido?

Thanks to JPM and Anna.


Anonymous said...

whoah! that menu has stopped me dead in my tracks. Did you get to taste any of it and is brockley really ready for rabbit and dark chocolate stew.

and oh those poor wickham arms barmaids. I feel for them. I spent a couple of years working in a local pub and there can be little more annoying that enforced conversation with aging SE London lotharios.

Anonymous said...

the menu sounds great and its good news for the St John's side of Brockley. Just need the refurbishment to happen and then I'll start giving them my custom..

Anonymous said...

Back in the old days - whenever they were - a rabbit stew might well have been thickened (squeamish posters would be advised to look away now) with the rabbit's blood; a bit of chocolate gives a similar effect the era of ready-prepared rabbits. Not as outlandish a thing as you might think, really.

As for the Wickham Arms, anyone I've ever seen in there has been reassuringly mundane-looking.

Anonymous said...

They should be glad of the attention.

Anonymous said...

I like the sound of the menu. I think they've got a good combination of complicated dishes for a treat meal out whilst at the other end providing more simple fare (e.g. the ploughmans and pork pies) for those who just want a light bite. Plus I assume they are sourcing the mean from the same vender as they do for the Honor Oak Pub which is my local butcher (Peter James on Ewhurst Road).

Other pub news is that the Ladywell Tavern is under new management and currently being rennovated. It was due to open at the end of April - but isn't yet. Anyone know of anything about this?

Anonymous said...

should say meat not menu in post above, sorry...that's actually an advantage of remaining anonymous, no one can attribute regular typos!

Tressilliana said...

Epickles, eh - the internet is developing faster than I had appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the "home mad epickles" are going to be the perfect dish for APP&P.

Anonymous said...

I should probably add that I like the sound of the menu too, although I agree with Jonathan Meades (who went on about it in one of his programmes, years ago) that the hackneyed term "pan-fried" is one of the most absurd developments in the recent history of food. What else would something be fried in?

Anonymous said...

It could be fried in a deep fat fryer! Fried sea-bass doesn't sound quite as nice as pan-fried

Anonymous said...

A deep-fat frier.

Anonymous said...

That menu looks the business, as I understand it, this will be for the upstairs restaurant part of the Tablot refurbishment.

They should draw custom from far and wide with that sort of menu, as long as it is not hideously expensive.

Brockley has few pubs and fewer decent places to eat. Normally I would have to go into Greenwich or Blackheath for a decent restaurant meal.

I never quite got over the demise of the super meals they used to serve at Mr Lawrences. I await the opening of the Talbot with eager anticipation.

As for the Wickam Arms, unless it has changed markedly the service always seemed modest and efficient.

Any hint of glamour would probably lead to over excitement on the part of the regulars and upset the equilibrium.

It sounds as if the reporter had a particularly fine lunch.

Me said...

Stomach. Definetly, stomach.

Also the future managment of The Talbot seemed like nice chaps.

Anonymous said...

Deep-frying is deep-frying, though. Pan-frying could also be called shallow frying, I guess, but I suppose I have to admit it doesn't sound as appetising. "Fried fish" isn't something you'd necessarily want to fork out a tenner for, confit fennel or no confit fennel (which by the same principle should really be called "fennel cooked in oil", given that a confit is classically something preserved).

Of course, if restaurants start serving food fried in dustbin lids, orthapaedic boots, or chicken incubators, I'll eat my pan-fried hat.

T1 said...

The last time I was in the Wickham a fight almost broke out. It was sorted by one of the regulars (literally) slapping the instigator of the fight.

It was early in the evening and I couldn't tell if I'd stepped onto the set of Eastenders ... it is that kind of place.

The beer's not as bad as the reviewer makes it out to be. The Landlord I had there was well up to scratch.

Anonymous said...

I quite like the sound of the chocolate and rabbit but then I'm a fan of the chocolate in chilli you get in South America.

Personally, all I need is for them to hold a regular pub quiz and I'm quite prepared to spend most nights propping up the bar.....

(Btw, hello, I''m new)

Anonymous said...

I'm off to Morley's on Brockley Road for some immersion-fried chickadee and sautee potatoes.

Anonymous said...

Helolo Ali and welcome to the site!

I think the Wickham does have a pub quiz; there have been murmerings afoot about getting a BC team together ...

Anonymous said...

'Helolo'? Not sure which language I'm speaking there ... type in haste, repent at leisure!

Anonymous said...

trywhitt ali - pub quiz..now there's an excellent idea..I'd be there

Anonymous said...

The Talbot menu is a bit too fancy for me.
I prefer my steak with chips and maybe a bit of bernaise sauce.

Potato and beetroot rosti and red wine jus? Been watching too many masterchefs.

Interstingly the menu is not quite as fancy at the Honor Oak, although enthusiastic Tom who produced the sample menu is I believe currently in the kitchen there.

As for the Wickham there are a couple of barmaids I see regularly but then there is a supporting cast of hundreds who you only seem to see once or twice.

I always say all barmaids are beautiful its just that some are more beautiful than others. I won't go down the Friday afternoon beer goggles route.....

Anonymous said...

tyrwhitt - i think we are all having a case of the Fridays..

Anonymous said...

Well I haven't been to the Wickham Arms yet so a pub quiz would be a good excuse to go.... Not that I really need an excuse to go to the pub

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the BCB Ali, I guess you must be a neighbour of mine.

I have to admit I prop up the bar of the Talbot without the attraction of a pub quiz most nights except on Tuesdays when I go to the Wickham .........for the quiz.

And Kate what happened to the BC quiz team?

We need all the help we can get to beat the cheating bastards (who win most weeks) although they only beat my team by a point this week (er........ without me)

Anyway Ali go in the Talbot and tell Rob the manager you want a quiz. He had one when he first moved in but subsequent attempts have failed through lack of interest.

Anonymous said...

my 10 year old son - having been introduced to the finer points of brockley cuisine by our local painter decorator - is now a firm fan of morley's chicken wings. Fortunately (in my opinion) he is without his own spending power and so can't destroy the enforced habits of his young life by regularly eating deep fried battery chicken. phew. wonder if the rabbit in chocolate will provide any competition

Anonymous said...

Pub quizes may be an attraction for some, but they usually get dominated by a few people who take it far too seriously. Particularly if there is any sort of prize involved. It also kills the atmosphere in a pub stone dead. I've walked into to Wickham before now and seen all the customers completely silent in contemplation of the arcane questions set before them. The atmosphere solumn and tense, like in an examination Hall. Interrupted only by the humourless and precise questions set by the poker faced quiz master.

They always go on too long and the professionals, who go from pub to pub for this sort of thing, nob off pretty damn quick once the inaction is over.

If the Talbot starts doing a quiz I will be absenting myself that evening and shall dine elsewhere.

Entertainment is a very contentious issue in pubs. Keep some people happy and you drive others away.

The Jam Circus seems to be planning some very innovative theatrical events in the near future. Though they seem to be a bit slack in keeping their website calendar up to date.

Anonymous said...

Ladywell Tavern is due to reopen very soon too, it's billing itself as somewhere between gastropub and traditional pub, with real ales and 'good food', whatever that means. Met one of the managers in the bakers the other day and he was promising great things for the food, saying that the chef used to work with Marco Pierre White. We wait in Ladywell with baited breathe. We're getting a new cafe called Oscars in four weeks too, and there are rumours of a deli, which is all good, but we desperately still need a shop that sells decent food, particularly fresh fruit and veg!

Anonymous said...

Apologies, my spelling and punctuation in the above post wasn't that good for an English teacher!

Anonymous said...

Used to work with Marco Pierre White? Probably marked him for life in some way.

Anonymous said...

Tom... I had to give him a good slap 'cos he kept on gettin' out of his wheelchair and feelin' up me Mrs wot works behind the bar. (Thanks fellas.) Normally geezers like that get legless, but keep themselves to themselves. Anyway, slappin's for pussies an' I'm not gonna do it no more.

Anonymous said...

For a totally non-serious quiz go over to the Old Nun's Head in, believe it or not, Nunhead on Sunday week (8th June)by 8 o'clock. Phil Nice who does the Quiz in the Telegraph Hill Festival is dishing up more of the same - which is very welcome - and chucking around the usual random chocolate (without, presumably the rabbit!).

Richard said...

Anon, the 'theatrical events' will be part of Brockley Max and we have high hopes. We might look to have occassional similar events in the future.

You're right, our calendar has been neglected recently. Basically, the calendar was designed with a terrible format and I am waiting for a redesign. No excuses, but it's not the best.

The best way to keep up to date is to join our mailing list.

Rosie H said...

It would be good to see more than one or two vegetarian dishes on there.

Some more run-of-the-mill fare for casual dining would be welcome too.

Any idea when the actual refurbishment at The Talbot is going to happen?

Michael Dinner said...

THE TALBOT: A Winner's Dinner double loser.

I see The Talbot got 23% of the vote in the Brockley Central poll, which ranked it third in Brockley's Most, etc.

However, what really deservesn 'mention' are the cuts.

Mothering Sunday may not have been the best day to visit the pub for a traditional Sunday roast but how was a hungry Winner and his little winner junior to know that?

I've always warmed to the staff at this 'gaff'. The very attractive blonde lady who serves upstairs is always a delight, but when things go wrong - aye-karumba!

The animal fat posing as roast lamb was hidden by the by the tatties.

There was more fat on my little plate than in the incinerators at Lewisham Hospital.

1ST WAITRESS. 'I'll mention it to the chef.'

Later, with no feedback from the chef who it had been mentioned to, I mentioned it to the 2nd waitress. (Her a sight of loveliness it must be said).

2nd WAITRESS (with a smile): 'I'll mention it to the chef.'

I pressed matters somewhat.

2nd WAITRESS: 'I'll mention it to the chef,' she said as she departed

Mention it?

With so much mentioning going on at teh Talbot I got the impression that this was part of the lexicon, a general response to a complaint about the food. Did they really mention it to the chef?

I waited for the chef to emerge, Montypython-like, screaming: 'You've lost me my bloody job!'

Instead, only silence greted my complaint. (And there was no dessert left either!)


Yes. And for the full amount. Perhaps lamb fat is a Brockley delight. Charged at £12 a throw I suppose one shouldn't complain.

A gasp. A few silent expletives.

2nd WAITRESS: "Do you want me to... take something off?'

A long pause followed during which I thought my luck was in.

I caught sight of myself in the mirror. This brought me to my senses. My child was there too so I settled for a reduction in the bill instead of the waitress taking something off.

Apparently the chef had known all along that there was a problem with the 'cuts of meat'.

The new reduced bill, unlike the old one, had service charge added to it...?. Oh hum.

The Talbot: Don't forget to mention it.

Anonymous said...

I wonder which barmaid he is talking about...

Brockley Central Label Cloud