The Prince of Greenwich

It’s the post that gets the most comments on this blog, bar none, (127 so far…) though I’ll wager that 99% of them are not from regular readers. People either adore or detest the Prince of Greenwich (formerly, of course, The Prince Albert) and they come here specifically to praise it to the hilt or to verbally send it to the depths of hell, never to return to post anywhere else on the site. And those comments keep on coming – people must actually look it up in the archives (a feat not easily achieved these days) specially to add their golden/venomous praises/curses to the list. (BTW for the people who think I delete messages I ‘don’t like’, you really are new – if you’re posting for the first time, thanks to an anti-spam device, I have to moderate all first-time users. If I’m away then I sometimes don’t see comments for a few days, thus the delay in them going live. For the record the only messages I actively ‘delete’ are ad-hominen, actively racist or homophobic attacks.)

I find it curious that such a place can instill such passion, and I know, a review is well overdue, but when I’m going in with such a barrelful of other people’s opinions it gets more and more intimidating a task to take on. So it ended an on-impulse thing – we were on our way to try out the new chef at the Hill, but on the spur of the moment dived into the Prince instead. 

One thing I will say for them – they listened to public opinion on the way the place looked from the outside – one look at the first sign they made (on the old post)  and my blood boils again – but they listened to what locals had to say and the sign they have now is perfectly acceptable – smart, even. Frankly I still think the name sucks, but names come and go – Frog & Radiator, anyone (happily reinstated as the Ship & Billet nowadays) – and the sign to me, looks pretty good given it was going to be changed. 

Inside, too, I confess to rather liking the decor.  90s-style gastro-pub-cosy,  mismatched tables, a very grand mirror, old books, good lighting, tasteful paint-job – you get the picture. It was a pleasant place to walk into and the seats by the fireplace seemed particularly welcoming. We didn’t get to sit there, because there were people already installed, but the rest of the pub was empty. Through the evening, a trickle of people came and went, but it never really got what you might call ‘busy.’ The bar guy was friendly, but not chatty, which is the way I like it.

There are a couple of beers on tap (don’t ask me to remember what they are, you know me…) which seems enough – there’s no point in trying to compete – beer fanatics will always go to the Union. The wine list was good – pricey – but it’s rare impossible to find cheap wine that tastes any good. I’d rather have one glass of something decent than slurp vatfuls of cheap vinegar. My glass(es, ahem) were very good indeed and I’m told the beer, drunk by the rest of the party, was fine. 

The menu isn’t extensive – which in my book is a good thing. If they’re not expecting many people, there’s no point in providing masses of choice – much like the drink I’d rather have a smallish choice of good stuff. It has the usual pub suspects; we chose a combination of burgers, salads and lasagnes. Given the tiny amount of people in the pub the food took a looooong while to arrive, but when it did it was, again, perfectly acceptable – neither brilliant nor terrible. The burgers were home made, the lasagnes tasted pretty okay, the salad was fresh. We ate it and it was nice. 

And I suspect that that is the issue this place has to deal with. It’s nice. It’s enjoyable. It’s good looking. It’s friendly. The food is perfectly good. It’s doing all the right things – sausages from Drings, for example.  But it doesn’t have a ‘personality’ in a street that already has several ‘personality’ pubs. The Union for the beer freaks. The Tolly for the regulars. The Hill for the foodies (though watch this space for a review of the new chef, as soon as I make it that little bit further up the road.) The Prince has nice beer, but it’s not the Union. it has good (very good) surroundings, but it’s not the Richard I. It has okay food, but not the signature dishes the Hill has/had (depending on what it’s like now.)

If it was anywhere else, this place would be a godsend. In East Greenwich we’d be putting out the bunting for a it – we have the Vanbrugh, the Plume and the Pelton, but anything further east just gets a bit scary, pub-wise. 

I think it needs to bed-down a bit. Find itself a niche, rather than trying to be all things to all Greenwichians. I can’t see the codgers coming back (I am assuming they’ve decamped to the Morden Arms?) but maybe the Prince shouldn’t be aiming that way. I would love to see the owners coming up with a new angle, a way to create their own personality, to entice people who don’t currently go to any of the Royal Hill pubs  - a new clientele.

How to do that? Ah – if I knew that I’d be a publican myself.

If you think you know the answer, Mike has just told me it’s for sale


36 Comments to “The Prince of Greenwich”

  1. Benedict says:

    So…
    A: I cant believe no-one has commented yet.
    B: £60,000 p/a is a pretty hefty chunk of moolah and you still have to add maintenace, gas, electric, staff, thats going to be a lot of beer and burgers before a profit is realised. I guess thats why we are not publicans…
    C:Why is it impossible to find decent wine/s in any pubs (its the same here in Toronto )
    D: Perhaps they should get the big TV’s back and let everyone watch the footy and rugger again, that was the only time I used to venture in there before Albert was ousted by Greenwich…
    E: If it was at the top of my street, it would be rammed…which I guess means they are doing everything right, just location/good competion.
    Heres a link to the closest resemblance of a good English Gastro pub in Toronto
    (I can recommend the Pressed Quail and Foie Gras with Spiced Prune )
    http://queenandbeaverpub.ca/?page_id=3&pageName=bodyGallery

  2. scared of chives says:

    Good to see you’re still eating dregs Benedict!

    A cute picture on their website – as Leslie Nielsen (RIP) would say ‘Nice beaver’

    Still haven’t ventured into the POG – the lure of the Tolly is too much….

  3. Frank says:

    One big disadvantage that pub has is that there is nowhere to sit outside when the weather is suitable.

  4. stonemuse says:

    Phantom, off-topic but what do you use to counteract the spam:

    … thanks to an anti-spam device, I have to moderate all first-time users.

  5. Stonemuse – it’s a setting within WordPress – in the ‘discussions’ settings:

    Comment author must have a previously approved comment

    Seems to cut out a lot of spam though it’s annoying for first time commenters

  6. darryl says:

    It’s the default setting I use, tends to work well for me.

    As for the PoG – walked past there on Tuesday at 10pm; the Richard I was busy, the Greenwich Union was busy, the PoG… two people in there. Sad. You’re right, though, it needs a niche – real ale? live music? The Prince Albert filled a niche for football and darts, but this has nothing.

  7. Devonshire Drivel says:

    live music would be good. Altho the neighbours would probably object

  8. Mazer says:

    Still failed to make it inside, looks nice but bland, and besides someone has to drink the banana bread beer in the Tolly…

    Phantom, keen to hear your report on The Hill, ate there a few months ago and the food was shocking, I mean reallly shocking. Very, very rarely have I sent food back but we did. Twice.
    Fingers crossed on the new chef…back to the trusty Plume for sunday dinner.

  9. David says:

    It’s good to see a balanced review of the PoG. I should declare early on that I have a slightly vested interest in the place seeing as I designed their website (glad you liked one of the photos scared of chives). Having said that, in the name of editorial impartiality I should also state I absolutely love the Union and RI (never heard it called the Tolly before–where’s that from?).

    Personally I do think the PoG has done a very good job but the main problem for them is the location–as mentioned in the post, imagine a pub like a bit further east or even in the centre of Greenwich. When you’ve got to compete with the Union and the RI you’ve got your work cut out for you. Oh, and as far as I’m aware the typographic misdemeanour that was the original sign was only ever meant to be temporary.

    Anyway just a couple of points: @darryl — the PoG *does* have quite a few events on, including live music and poetry nights. Hopefully they’ll do some more soon (nothing listed on the site when I just checked).

    A point about it being for sale — I think I read in Greenwich.co.uk that this referred to the lease rather than the pub (although I may be wrong of course).

    As for the Hill — well worth a trip Phantom. The pizzas are excellent but make sure you’re hungry when you go, they are big!

  10. Benedict says:

    David…I think SoC was refering to The Queen and Beaver not PoG, I think. sorry I’ll get my coat and call a QaB…..

  11. David says:

    Ha ha, ok I see what you mean :) So many pubs, so many acronymns. And I now I think of it I don’t ever remember seeing a beaver in the PoG.

  12. Paul says:

    Yup, it is indeed the building that’s for sale, and the couple who own the business will pay rent to the new owners on a lease that continues until 2046.

    Hopefully they’ll find a winning formula before then, £60k a year is indeed a lot of beers and Drings’ sausages.

  13. Scott says:

    More live music would be fantastic – folk/jazz nights is the one thing which would entice me into the POG away from the Union (my favourite pub in London).

  14. Paul says:

    Even bothered about how much the owners of The Prince are paying in rent…some people….

  15. Robin says:

    I always forget the PoG even exits…I have only been once. When I did go, it was actually very nice. They have a lovely dog which is always good to have in a pub I think. Despite enjoying it, I still always forget it is there. I quite often find the Union a bit busy for my liking.

    I think most people get onto Royal Hill from the bottom up so they walk past the Union and Rich the First if they want to get to PoG. So I would market the PoG at the well-to-do people who live UP Royal Hill, Hyde Vale, Point Hill etc. I would gastro-pub it up and take the food up-market – it feels as much like a restaurant than a pub inside anyway.

  16. Nick says:

    Have you heard!?

    There is a competition that every one can enter, every Tuesday at 10pm…you go around Greenwich and count people in pubs.

    How interesting?

    To enter to go
    http://www.peoplespotting.co.uk

  17. Adrian says:

    RE: The Hill’s pizzas

    At last, at last a decent pizza in Greenwich that isn’t a miniscule Pizza Express effort.

  18. Nick says:

    Re: The Hill’s Pizza

    Big but…How much?

    It costs about £1 to make a pizza like that

  19. Ann says:

    Been to the hill this evening, my god the manager need to learn some manners.

  20. James says:

    What’s going for the POG?

    Nice staff (who are really trying different things to make it appeal to customers)
    Free tastes of draught beer (where else do you get that)
    Quiet (OK if you like noisy pubs then its not for you)
    Cocktails (I haven’t tried them but it seems a good idea)
    Excellent draught beer (The R1 and Union are fine, with excellent beer, but you have to accept Young’s and Meantime beers – at the POG you get a changing variety)
    Great fire

    What’s not so good?

    For me the only drawback is the decor – bland and dull (and why not bring back the darts board? It got customers to stand by the window)

  21. Paul says:

    I hope the PoG can build up more USPs.

    Of course the Union has always offered free tastes of all their beer – not always of guest beers though, which include Schonram, Dark Star and others on draft – really good stuff, and of course an amazing variety of (sometimes pricey) bottled beers.

    Richard 1, too offers guest beers, altho’ some of them, like the Wells ones, are effectively made by the same company, ever since Youngs’ shamefully sold off their brewery and contracted out the brewing. Altho the Union beers are more to my taste, the Tolly’s recent Winter Warmer, for example, was storming.

  22. Jason says:

    This post echoes a lot of what I’d thought. The PoG doesn’t have a clear position in the market.

    It is serving beer on a street with two great pubs which have all bases covered – ales, lager, microbrewery, whisky, quizzes, fancy burgers, cheap burgers etc. – and which are packed every night of the week.

    So, I think it should turn itself into a proper winebar. The wines they have a few and not enough to draw you in. imagine a proper wine bar with a big list and some lovely charcuterie platters etc.

    There’s the Hill as it’s only competition but it’s a restaurant, not a wine bar, and the seating is awful if you’re just in for drinks, plonked in the shadow of the bar on uncomfortable chairs.

    I’d give my left arm for a proper winelist. Bar du Musee is rubbish now and Davy’s is good but quite far out and very Old World. Given the amount of business Majestic and Theatre of Wine do, and the fact that I see people buying wine in Sainsburys and Co-op all the time, there’s surely a gap in the market for a bar that caters to the wine drinkers of West Greenwich.

    Who’s with me?!

  23. Me! In fact they could go one further and work with Theatre of wine to get a good list in – and get Daniel to do tastings…

  24. Jason says:

    One can only dream.

    Maybe you should suggest it… they probably could do with some creative suggestions from customers.

    I will if you do.

  25. Adrian says:

    Yes the pizzas are expensive – can’t deny that.

  26. Nick says:

    The Prince doesn’t do pizzas.
    The pizzas that The Hill do are expensive

  27. Jude Melling says:

    I feel compelled to weigh in with my opinion of this divisive establishment.

    I never knew the Prince Albert as it was so I have no nostalgia to cloud my opinion.

    I have no problem with the signage as it is now. The interior is pleasant enough, yet it can seem a bit sterile and bland. The drinks selection is varied enough though there is better nearby. What little food I have eaten there was of a high quality but it was expensive, edging towards overpriced.

    These points would most often lead me to conclude with a 3/5 star review. However, I’ve yet to address the aspects of this pub that I find unappealing.

    I went here to watch one of the last England world cup games and while there was no problem getting a seat in front of their 52″ HD screen, the place was deserted. It’s always deserted. I’ve never seen more than five people inside, unless I myself have brought them. No matter how pleasant the furnishings, a newly decorated pub will always seem sterile and bland if it doesn’t look used, lived in.

    Why is it always empty? Well, I can only theorize. The website boasts a warm welcome, yet that is far from what I’ve experienced there.

    On my second visit, a late friday afternoon farewell drink for a colleague, a woman came in with a man who seemed to be severely disabled. While she was at the bar buying herself and her charge a drink he was making quite a bit of noise. Randomly shouting out. To be fair he was drawing some attention. Nonetheless, he might have settled down once his carer returned from the bar. We’ll never know as the woman was given very short shrift. before she could even sit down she was in my opinion forced to leave quite rudely, with an air of “What was she thinking bringing someone like that in here?!”

    The last straw was recently on a quiet friday afternoon when two of my colleagues took a group of 25 students all 18+ in there for another goodbye drink.

    The bar manager watched with disdain as the students took their seats and without even looking at my colleagues, asked if they all had ID.

    When told that he wouldn’t have to serve anyone who didn’t have ID, he said that if they were going to bring such a large group they should have booked in advance!

    My colleague said if it was a problem we could go somewhere else.

    And they did, to the Dickie down the road, where they were warmly welcomed and their business was no doubt appreciated.

    The PoG gets 1/5 from me and I’ll not go there again unless it’s under new management.

  28. Paul says:

    I keep going going to The Prince of Greenwich and I alway have a good time.

    Lovely venue for lovely people.

  29. James says:

    Well the Prince of Greenwich will be a gay bar from the 4th of November (on their website) how do you like them eggs!

  30. Simon says:

    What a fantastic idea, lets face it you can’t get much more niche than that! the locals don’t use it anyway so they may as well go all out with a USP that they really are experts in! love it! good luck to the POGs

  31. Paul says:

    I think it’s a great idea!
    Finally a great gay venue in Greenwich.

  32. Philip says:

    The 4th of November 2011

    What a fantastic night at The Prince

  33. Del says:

    I’ve been to The Prince a few times now, and i must say i’ve enjoyed it every time! I went on their first drag night, on a tuesday, and it was packed, and very enjoyable. I normally go on a friday or saturday, and it’s usually quiet at first then gets busier later in the evening. I would definately recommend this pub for a good night out!

  34. Del – now it’s a gay venue, how are they about straight people going, especially on ‘special’ nights like the drag events?

  35. del says:

    Phantom…I’m not sure about straight blokes, but on the last drag event, there were a few groups of straight women, and they were made very welcome. I have to say though, it seems like the sort of place that would welcome straight blokes who were respectful of it being a gay pub!

  36. Paul says:

    I agree with Del.
    The Prince is a lovely place, I think that straight people in there are not a problem as long as they respect it as a gay bar.
    I have seen straight guys in there enjoying their selves, it’s not an issue.
    I alway have a good time at The Prince, I recommend it.