The Hill

Royal Hill, SE10

I’ve heard and read very different opinions and reviews of this pub. I rather wonder whether those who don’t like it miss the old Barley Mow, (not that I ever went in it – it didn’t really appeal to me. Presumably, if it closed, it didn’t appeal to anyone else either.) What is it, by the way, landlords don’t like about pubs called The Barley Mow? Gordon Ramsay’s new place, The Narrow, used to be The Barley Mow, too. Maybe there will be a backlash – like, thank God, there seems to be with pubs called stupid names in the 80s and 90s reverting to their original titles – witness The Frog & Radiator’s ‘new’ name The Ship & Billet.

But I digress (again…) Back to The Hill.

Personally – I like it. It’s not a drinker’s boozer, really, better described as a gastropub. It does Adnams Bitter but not much else other than the usual lagers. Sometimes the waiters forget to mention the bitter, so if you don’t order at the bar, then at least go there in case there’s anything else that’s been forgotten.

Outside it’s been tarted up with white paint, the Victorian tiles highlit rather nicely. Inside, it’s all stripped floorboards, pale walls and candles – which I don’t dislike – and the main eating area is up a couple of steps at the back, with a small dividing wall containing an old stained glass window. Outside there’s a little garden with the omnipresent decking – not wildly exciting, but then so many pub gardens aren’t. I wish more of these places would put a bit of effort into making their gardens as nice as their interiors.

The food has always been good when I’ve been there, though rather pricey for what it is – a salad I had the other day was definitely a bit thin on the plate.

I particularly enjoy the fish and chips – especially the rosemary chips, which I’ve been known to order as a standalone meal. Juicy and fat, and excellently cooked, they’re definitely the best thing about The Hill.

The service varies. I’ve not found the waiters bolshy or inattentive, more absent-minded, really. They’re usually friendly and eager to please but they can be a bit hap-hazard – they’ll take ages to bring your meal, forget to mention special items (or beer) on the menu then ask three times if the food’s ok.

The Hill is somewhere I return to on only an occasional basis, but always look forward to doing so.


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