Despite what some of a certain someone’s friends joke, the only thing that’s really changed about him since we got together are his dining habits. He came to me pre-loaded with those itchy feet for travel, a reasonably good dress sense, and some annoying quirks which I won’t get into now. I suspect he was always into fine dining and know he already loved a splash of wine, but back in the BC (before Connie) days, dining out was mainly about the meat and two veg, raucous Irish pubs, and grotty old-school boozers where everyone’s a regular and the staff know your order.
It’s something I imagined the Coach & Horses, a charming neighbourhood pub in Clapham, would have been before they gave it a facelift, brought in the craft beers by the barrel-load, and flung out made-to-order pizzas from the kitchen. Turns out, I was right. It was exactly that kind of pub; what I hadn’t anticipated was that a certain someone could confirm it from personal experience. It wasn’t just the sort of pub he used to go to a lot, it was actually a pub he did used to go to for a couple of pints and some football! Obviously, I had to drag him back for a compare and contrast exercise…
Our first task was to choose from the huge range of beers on offer. Those into their craft beers will be well impressed, but if you’re not into that ‘fancy stuff’, you’ll be well-catered for too. I don’t drink beer often but when I do, it’s usually a stout or porter; I like the rich, chocolate notes and both the Windrush Stout from Brixton Brewery and Beavertown’s Holy Cowbell India Stout did delivered. The Coach & Horses take their beers seriously and the team were really helpful in talking through the choices to help me pick something. But if you’re still undecided and happen to be there on a Tuesday, you could get a beer flight with three different tasters – such a great way to work through the menu!
The second task was to tackle the thin-crusted pizzas, something which a certain someone is sure was not on offer the last time he was in years ago… Like their beers, the pizza topping combinations were equally varied and came on a base of either Southern Italian tomatoes, garlic, basil and oregano, or ricotta, cream, nutmeg, and freshly ground pepper. I was intrigued by the ‘Eggcetera’ with crispy bacon, baked eggs, spinach and chilli, but couldn’t bring myself to have breakfast for dinner, and if I could have convinced a certain someone to go vegetarian, we might have tried the ‘Artichoke’ with marinated artichokes, mozzarella, ricotta, chopped garlic, and sorrell. I have a feeling my Pizza Club ladies would have been game for it though!
We both zoned in on the ‘Nduja’ as we’ve been a fan of this hot Calabrian soft salami since we first tried it through our Carnivore Club box. I loved these explosions of fiery heat dotted in amongst the roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted fennel, and peppery rocket. Our second choice of ‘Smoked Chicken’ was a little more offbeat. The combination of smoked chicken, curly kale, roasted corn, and rosemary oil definitely came together well; I liked the earthiness of the chicken and kale, which were perfectly contrasted by the vibrant sweetness of the corn. I know corn is not the first thing that comes to mind as a pizza topping, but it provides a great freshness, much like pineapple… yes, I am one of those people.
The pizzas at the Coach & Horses are a decent size and perfect for sharing amongst friends while you’re working your way through the beers. We could have, should have, shared but didn’t; story of our lives really. So when it came to our final task of trying their one and only dessert, we were already hideously full and not at all prepared to demolish three behemoth, sugar-coated, nutella-smothered doughnuts. They were chewy, sweet and an adequately decadent end to our night!
But for the rest of the pub-goers, the night was just beginning. The music was pumping, beers were being poured at great speed, pizzas were speeding out of the kitchen, and everyone was settling in for the football match of the evening! I guess a certain someone’s final impression was absolutely spot on; the current Coach & Horses is same, same, but different to the one he knew. All the elements of the cosy old-boozer he liked were still there: local hub filled with regulars, and friendly staff who make you feel welcomed, yet there was something a little more modern and vibrant about it now!
Do you have a local pub which you love?
Thanks to Coach & Horses for giving a certain someone a quick trip down memory lane, but as always, all opinions are mine and mine alone!
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