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The Drafthouse, Hammersmith, Awful

There used to be a very reliable adage: Don't eat where you drink! This was especially true back in the early 90's where pub food consisted of crisps, scratchings and a toasty if you were luck. Then there was a culinary revolution driven by the pub industry realising food was more profitable than booze and advances in prepared foods that could be assembled elsewhere and heated/finished off in a small pub kitchen. All pubs now do food of some description, it varies in quality and value but you no longer need to grab a macca's or kebab on your way home these days. Until recently the food revolution wasn't really matched by a similar upheaval in drinks. Ebb and fashion of alcopops, foreign beer in fancy bottles and cider came and went, until a couple of years ago craft beer became 'the thing'. There were lots of reasons for this but I think the glorious advent of the £4 to £5 pint meant pubs had to offer punters a bit more bang for their bucks. The natural progression of this movement is the opening of 'bars' such as Brewdog and the Tap Room centred around craft beer. The Drafthouse in Hammersmith is another of this breed, taking over the premises of an unloved pub next door to the now defunct Hammersmith Palais on Shepherds Bush Rd. I'd been several times to their outpost on Charlotte St which is a great spot, with switched on staff, good beers and what appeared to be good food.

Big Matt and I had met up on Saturday afternoon to do some shopping and preparation for our upcoming trip to the Latitude Festival. Having plundered all the camping/outdoors shops on High St Ken we decided it would be nice to have a few beers and work our way down to Hammersmith and sample a spot of dinner at the Drafthouse which promised BBQ ribs and the like done in their pit. So off we trundled stopping at the Britannia, a very comfy pub though our drink was slightly disturbed by a gaggle in the corner having a very loud highbrow discussion about the ancient middle East (only in Kensington). We also popped into Latymers a great Fullers place where we had cold bottles of Hawaiian craft beer (I know just get in the sea). I was tempted to stay as Big Matt had high praise for their Thai food but we decided to stick with our original plan. So we ended up at the Drafthouse, inside they have kept the original bar but round the side what was a pool room is space for dining. It wasn't immediately clear where to sit but we bagged a table by the window looking out onto frustrated drivers stuck in traffic waiting to join the A4. As I mentioned previously their Charlotte St outpost has friendly informative staff sadly the same cannot be said for Hammersmith. I'm all for informality in pubs but when staff are this listless it would be handy to know who was working here and who was just chilling out. Two of the beers we ordered were off but it took 10 minutes to find out and another 10 to get a replacement. Glassware wasn't the cleanest I'd seen and if I'm honest the beer wasn't up to much.

All this might have been tolerable if the food was any good. My alarm bells should have rung when I saw the large slick laminated menu. A good rule of thumb with pub food is the more elaborate the menu the worse the food. Too much choice on here really. We played it safe ordering some hot wings to share, Big Matt ordered a cheese burger because he always does and wanting to test the BBQ I went for ribs. The wings weren't very good, cooked adequately but all the coating came off, they weren't very spicy so we needed more sauce which took a while to come. Mains weren't much better. Big Matt's burger was adequate but the bun it was in it's autumn years. My ribs were dry and tasteless, cooking and reheating ribs is par of the course but they need to have some taste. To add insult to injury our 'hand cut twice cooked' fries were skin on affairs which tasted old and tired, not from the oil, which is a frequent problem, but the potatoes itself. This was a meal nearly as bad as my infamous burger at Brewdog Shepherds Bush. We raised our spirits by raising our beer glasses to various cars that came to stop in traffic outside the window. The bill came to nearly £50 for two so not particularly cheap. We were really disappointed, as I said about Brewdog, If you aren't set up to do food don't offer it or get someone in who can cook to run your kitchen. I recently went back to The Lord Wargrave since the departure of BBQ Whisky Beer and the food is still as good. Interestingly we popped up to the Distillers post meal which was previously a grotty Hammersmith pub with a decent beer garden and this has been 'crafted up' nicely but also seemed to be banging out good-looking food. Places like Drafthouse need to forget the hipster hype and concentrate on the basics. If you are shouting out about your food being authentic and tasty then ensure it isn't. Hammersmith deserves better.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015
Overall rating
Food 2 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 2

Zelman Meats, Soho, excellent

Smokehouse, Islington, good but pricey