the prodigal guide – august 2012
Situated on the busy surroundings of Putney’s Upper Richmond Road, the Prince of Wales has a chequered history. At the start of 2011, it was an unexceptional neighbourhood boozer, mainly frequented by people needing a drink before or after getting the nearby tube. It was then taken over by the owners of Highgate’s extremely fancy Bull & Last. The atmosphere split. The back room began to resemble an upmarket gastropub, with extravagantly priced food to match, but the front room still felt like an unexceptional scratcher. Despite the odd gushing review, business wasn’t brilliant, and so something had to be done.
Enter the Food and Fuel group, owners of such establishments as The Roebuck and the Lots Road pub. With a clear track record at making ‘difficult’ sites work, they set about finding a happy medium between over-gentrification and making sure that this would want to be the sort of accessible, pleasant place that would cater both to casual drinkers and people who wanted a more esoteric dining experience. Thankfully, they’ve succeeded admirably.
The stylishly decorated back dining room, as before, manages to have a marvellous feeling of light and space, as well as a rustic atmosphere, allowing visitors to gaze into the open kitchen and look at the delights being prepared. Dishes are modern British, with some nice twists. My starter of duck and black pudding salad is unusual because the duck comes as small pieces of breast rather than the shredded kind that I’d half-expected. My companion’s starter of scallops might not have been the biggest portion I’ve ever seen, but it was of a very high calibre nonetheless, washed down by a superb glass of Viognier from the comprehensive and well-priced menu.
Main courses are where the kitchen really gets going. A fillet of veal was just the right size and had superb, succulent taste – it’s a very tricky meat to cook to precisely the right standard, but they managed it admirably, making for a delicious dish, just as my companion’s salmon was really very good indeed, using fresh ingredients perfectly. Desserts of cardamom crème brulee (excellent) and Eton tidy (the name is probably the best part of it, but good nonetheless) continue what is a very decent meal.
You could say that high-quality local gastropubs have dominated south-west London for too long and that greater diversity and culinary daring are needed. To which the only reply that can be made is this: as long as places like the Prince of Wales are doing a job of this calibre, there’s not going to be any call for them to stop.
Top Table customer reviews – 11 Feb & 6 Feb 2013
“All the food was absolutely delicious, I couldn’t think of anything bad to say about our evening. Thrilled to have discovered this local gem, the best food I’ve had in Putney for a very long time…the food is outstanding, highly recommended ”
”I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of food here. Having walked past the pub a number of times I would not have guessed it would have such a good kitchen…will definitely be back.”