BY BILL LACY
I always knew The Railway was one of the best pubs in Streatham, but one of the best in London?
That is according to the Campaign for Real Ale, which awarded it the South-west London Pub of the Year in The Good Beer Guide 2021.
It is well deserved. This charming Victorian pub, just opposite Streatham Common railway station, serves an array of real ales from London breweries, which impressed the judges and defeated the competition from some excellent pubs in Clapham, Balham and Wimbledon.
It is such a shame that beer lovers have found it harder to sample this pub in its champion year, with real ale, which needs to be fresh and well-maintained, a particular casualty of the pandemic.
The Railway is currently closed – deciding not to go down the takeaway route it followed in March – but will reopen early December.
After the end of Lockdown 1, The Railway responded to the new environment.
It was one of the first pubs I visited post-lockdown, a pub I chose to break the three-month drought when I feared that I might never see the inside of one again.
The new restrictions, rules on where you can and cannot walk, were a little disconcerting, but The Railway was well-organised and had already set up an app.
The Railway also serves great food – above average pub-grub standard – so sitting down for a couple of hours without moving did not feel too odd for someone who prefers to stand at the bar.
It was heartening to see the standard has been maintained (although inevitably the real ale choice was more restricted than usual).
Looking around there were couples and families; this really is a “family” and “community” pub.
There is a sizeable back room that the pub hires out for private events – I have both dined in and attended messy play sessions with a toddler in that room!
The main bar at the front is attractive, with lots of seating, and there is a back yard as well.
The pub holds regular events, including one of the toughest quizzes around.
Booking is essential these days. This is a community pub that is good enough to merit the status of a “destination” pub.
This is one of the pubs where I fell in love with some great local breweries like Sambrook’s (a regular), while perusing the great choices at the bar and occasionally falling into a conversation with a stranger.
Those days may have gone (for now), but I will still support great pubs like The Railway.
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