11 Kennington Rd, Lambeth, London SE11 6SF www.drafthouse.co.uk
Those local to the Imperial War Museum in Kennington might have noticed that the former corner pub has revamped itself with new colours, new name and subsequently a brand new offering.
Gone is the disco atmosphere, neon lights and loud music: the Tankard is coming back to his former, original glory starting with the name itself, which is what the pub used to be called when it opened in 1825.
I have lived around the corner for years, but I had no idea that its attractive roof terrace was initially designed so customers could look over the high wall surrounding the grounds of the notorious Bethlem Insane Asylum (known colloquially as Bedlam) and gawk at the goings on there.
I am sure it must have been quite a sight, as it is today – people like myself walking their dogs and of course, happily having deep and meaningful conversations with their four legged friends.
In 1936 the grounds became a park and the asylum moved elsewhere; the gardens still stand today and are a beautiful place for the enjoyment of both locals and visitors to the museum.
We visited the pub for their Sunday roast, to see how holding company the Draft House has renovated this piece of local history (a young Charlie Chaplin was often dispatched there by his mother to haul his dad out of the lounge bar for his supper).
The company is in fact, as the name suggests, focused on beers and particularly craft ones; all their pubs offer plenty of interesting and less known labels. They aim to do for beer what our culture has done for food and wine over the past twenty years.
It was fairly quiet when we arrived but it was full by the time we left. Full of humans and full of dogs, including a startling Corgi convention. The pub is very dog friendly and rightly so, given the proximity to the park.
The Sunday menu is substantial, not just offering classic roasts, but also burgers, vegetarian dishes and a number of interesting starters called’beer food’ as well as cheese and beer pairing.
We shared a plate of a pretty good Salt & Pepper Squid & Sweet Chilli Mayo, then opted for the roasts. Hereford Fore Rib of Beef & Horseradish came as a generous portion, with well cooked but juicy, if a little sinewy, slices of beef, as well as what it felt like fresh horseradish cream.
The Half Roast Chicken & Bread Sauce was an abundant side of chicken, moist and flavoursome. All dishes in the roast section come with a large and billowing Yorkshire pudding, rosemary roasted carrots, green beans and roasted potatoes. The vegetarian option which we’ll try next time sounds mouthwatering too: Mushroom, Feta & Walnut Wellington.
The dessert menu has some British classics such as brownie and sticky toffee pudding, which was not as rich as some others but with a good texture and intense date flavour.
A good Illy espresso sealed the meal, and we headed, you guessed it, for a dog walk in the park. With reasonable prices, the Tankard is definitely a welcome addition to our neighbourhood.