i don’t think i had heard this term before i moved to london but now i hear it all the time, especially since h seems to have developed (literally overnight!) a big fancy to gastropubs. as you all know, pubs are are a very english institution. the english drink a helluva lot and they all seem to head to the neighbourhood pub for drinks right after work and hang around till almost the last tube home. did you know that london alone has over 5,500 pubs? they vary greatly in style from the classic pubs to the sports bars to the gastropubs where the food is the focus. i learnt from a friend that the word “pub” is derived from the fact that these bars are considered public establishments. which means that the public have the right to use the facilities for free. you can just walk into any pub and plonk yourself down and nobody can throw you out. this was a handy tip because when you are out and about and need to use a toilet, you can always use the ones at any pub without feeling guilty that you haven’t bought anything to drink or eat.
h and i have been checking out many gastropubs and one that has quickly become our favourite is builders arms, a somewhat preppy gastropub tucked away on a side street, off king’s road in south west london. this is the heart of chelsea - you wouldn’t find yourself here unless you lived in the area or you own a zagat’s! our friend, anne, gifted us a zagat’s guide to restaurants and nightlife in london and it has been an invaluable guide. builders arms feels like a gastropub for the erudite. it’s like a library with old, oversized books that you just have to remove from the dusty shelves and browse through. in fact we spent hours looking at an old atlas which had detailed maps for all the european countries we want to visit. the clientele at builders arms appear to be 20 and 30 something trendy londoners fond of chilling out with friends over beer and smokes at all times of the day, especially on weekends. the food is “modern british” and zagat tells us that the sunday roast at brunch is extremely popular. builders arms even has several chess sets on tables throughout the bar in case you’re up for exercising those grey cells over a draught beer or a glass of wine! there’s a fireplace which adds to the cozy feel but i haven’t been able to score a table near the fireplace on either of the times we went. i can’t really comment on the food as we only ordered some chips along with beer but the chips (fries as they call them in america and finger chips as they say in india) were thick- cut and delicious, especially with some salt and vinegar! i know we will be coming back to builders arms quite often. next time, i’ll make it a point to eat here so i can report on the food which is supposed to be the key attraction anyway!
13 britten street
tube: either south ken or sloane square