OK OK, so this is technically a pub. But it is my favourite local pub, and I’m biased, so I decided it deserves a mention because the food is great.
The Railway Tavern is on the corner of East Street opposite Bromley North Station – on the very edge of what has recently been coined ‘Bromley North Village’. It’s an area of bars, restaurants, boutique shops and the obligatory hairdresser or two, and Bromley Council have invested a lot over the last couple of years into making it pretty eclectic (for Bromley!) – the road is actually flat to the pavement to encourage people to wander here and there; there’s new lighting and paving; and all the bars/restaurants on the street are able to put tables outside in the summer to encourage a lovely café culture.
So, back to the pub. The Railway Tavern was taken over by a collective called Antic London in Summer 2014. They did it up in their trademark shabby chic kind of style, while retaining the Victorian air of the place. It used to be a hotel, which is very evident when you go up to use the toilets – doors are everywhere and it’s not always particularly well lit… not creepy at all…! Downstairs there’s a few different rooms plus an outdoor terrace for you to choose from, and very rarely do you feel overwhelmed by crowds or on top of one another, unlike the nearby similarly decorated but overly popular Barrel & Horn (on the north part of the high street). Plus for the musical among you there’s a piano free for you to play on and for the competitive, a few board games on offer too.
^ Taken by my friend!
Briefly on drinks: there’s a good selection of ales on tap if that’s your thing, a couple of good ciders and the better end of the lager scale (Morretti for example). House white is around £14 but a good Sauvignon is only a couple of quid more from memory, so worth spending the extra. No, it’s not exactly cheap – but there’s an O’Neill’s about 6 doors down the road if that’s what you’re after.
The menu is fairly unusual for a centre-of-town pub in that it’s all homemade and uses fresh, local ingredients. At first glance The Railway Tavern food menu might seem a little over the top with the choice of small plates of things like arancini; but the old favourite main courses are available too, with burgers, fish & chips, and sausages & mash making an appearance.
I went for a chicken burger (£10), mostly because it came with mozzarella cheese AND bacon AND chips AND coleslaw (all the good things). My friend decided on sausages & mash (£7), plus a side of onion rings (£2).
The chicken burger was happily an actual chicken breast. Not the easiest thing to eat in a bun due to its shape admittedly but tasty all the same. It had obviously been marinated in herbs as you could definitely taste it, which shows an attention to detail not many pubs would bother with. The bacon was crunchy, the mozzarella suitably melted.. My only gripe was that the grease from the chicken/cheese/bacon hadn’t been drained as well as it could have been and so the brioche bun was a little soggy. It held together well, but definitely could have been a bit crispier.
The fries were pretty great to be honest. Skinny fries tend to taste all the same to me but these were different: still thick enough to actually have potato inside, and flavoured with rosemary, I could have eaten a bowl of those alone. The coleslaw was obviously homemade, still crunchy and not at all overpowered by onion as many are.
My friend’s sausages and mash received equal plaudits: the mash was creamy, the sausages good quality but not gritty like some can be, plus they came with a side of unexpected cabbage (a good thing if you like cabbage!) and a good portion of gravy. The onion rings were cooked in a very light batter, which was lovely but did mean they were a little bit greasy. Kind of what you want from onion rings in my opinion, but some may be put off.
Final comment: the portion sizes. are. BIG. I couldn’t even finish mine and that tells you something!
The Railway Tavern does a few good deals in the week, such as £10 burger, fries and a drink on a Monday, and a free drink with a meal on a Wednesday if you’re there for the quiz. Personally I’m looking forward to trying some more dishes; this could quite easily end up being one of my favourite places to eat in Bromley – even if it is a pub!