Renovating a 200-year-old pub is a challenge demanding great responsibility. How do you retain the cosy, homely vibe built up over the years while replacing the old and the shabby? After all, you don’t want to veer into the identical smoothness of a BMW-showroom – this is a grand old inn, located by Kew Green in leafy west London. Luckily, The Coach and Horses hasn’t become a Starbucks brewery, and the new menu is going to attract foodies from miles around. And this being Richmond, there’s going to be a lot of them.
Stepping inside, I’m greeted with a roaring fire, the sound of chinking glasses and laughter: all high on the list of things you want to find in a pub (quiz machine and pool table being optional). Everyone has canapés, and pretty soon I’m being offered a miniature twist on bubble and squeak: a quail’s egg sits atop a crispy cushion of potato, garnished with a quiff of hollandaise sauce, the colour of a tropical sunset. Not only do the flavours combine admirably, I also feel like a giant while eating the tiny egg. Advantage, Coach and Horses. The rest of the snacks served are a mixture of experimental flourishes and old classics: deep-fried pork sweetmeats, with a bold meaty kick, and a crisp salad served on petals of lettuce. On this evidence, the kitchen staff have enough invention and style to offer something beyond tired old ‘pub grub’.
What especially impresses me about the inner dining room was how bright and airy it seems, despite not having a window. This impressive double-act was achieved by the carefully-chosen decor; tree branches sprawl across the cool mint patina of the walls, the space between the tables is respected and the gentle lighting invites your attention without coercing it.
Meanwhile, the selection of beverages is ample to say the least. This is a Youngs pub, so as you’d expect there is emphasis on the drinks menu. Young’s Real Ale, from the master brewery, makes a sustained appearance, but overall the selection of ales is more limited than might be expected.
But there’s no denying that this is a good place to relax with a drink – there’s an extensive beer garden at the front, although unfortunately it does face an angry and noisy main road. There’s a ‘secret’ garden around the back, presumably with a hushed-up chequered past. I didn’t get to check it out, but if you’re in west London, you could certainly do much worse than drop in for a drink and something to eat.
Coach and Horses
8 Kew Green
Tel: 020 8940 1208
Image courtesy of Guy Woodland