The Vanbrugh

Colomb St, SE10

After a long time of trying to go to The Vanbrugh to eat and failing (there was always some reason why I would walk out again – somehow it felt a little unwelcoming every time I went in – though of course one of those nights happened to be Quiz Night – and quiz nights by their very nature tend to be a bit clique-y) I am a convert. I went for Sunday lunch a week or so ago, and enjoyed it so much I was back in there last night. I’ve realised that the slightly odd feel really is only around the edges and, once inside it’s actually the gem I’d always hoped it would be.

Although it looks “trendy” from the outside, the pub-area is the classic traditional boozer, with an old-fashioned bar, specials chalked on the boards and a cosy atmopshere. I could personally lose the TV screens but let’s face it they’ve got ‘em everywhere these days – and it’s nothing unusual. You quickly get used to them.

Service is friendly and efficient and I got a greeting from the chefs in the kitchen (as you know, I take note of things like that – if the chefs seem happy, then much else is probably in order.)

The ‘restaurant area’ is round the back – bare brick walls painted pink, one papered with a trendy design. I’m sure that it used to be all tables, but they seem to have moved some of them into the ‘smoking area’ now, replacing them with squashy sofas – a good move IMHO.

The food’s generally good. The roasts are fine – not the very best I’ve ever had, but highly respectable and certainly worth a return visit. I had some fish and chips which were very good indeed and they were nicely prepared and presented. The menu (apart from the roasts) changes regularly and the food is properly sourced from decent local suppliers. The wine is also much better than your bog-standard pub stuff.

I guess what I really like about this pub though, is that they make an effort. There is, as I mentioned earlier, a famous quiz night (details on their really rather good website) – but they also do one-off events and film nights, where they roll down a screen and the sofas come into their own. The films are of the indie variety.

There seems to be some sort of dispute over the nice-looking garden, though I’m not sure what it is – noise – size – whatever. I wanted to ask but they seemed a bit busy. I’m sure one of you will fill me in…

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