A welcome return for Dining Beyond Zone 1, our occasional series of restaurant reviews dedicated to seeking out quality local places to dine beyond the frenzy of Central London.
Occupying its spot by Wandsworth Common since 1852, The County Arms has long been a locals’ pub serving a good line in Young’s beers but not much else. In the past few months, it’s been taken over by new owners, given a shiny new lease of life and turned into a fully fledged gastropub. Whether it has what it takes to lure further afield foodies down south and off the tube map remains to be seen.
The menu blends pub classics (fish & chips) with slightly fancier fare (cote de boeuf). The propensity to throw in needless French terms is très irriter given it’s supposedly a traditional English pub, but thankfully the food itself translates better. A simple pea and ham soup is made great by a meaty stock, whilst the high quality of beef used for the steaks and burgers comes through in every bite. Meanwhile, a fillet of lesser-used grey mullet is given the Gok Wan treatment with a herb-filled, crunchy oat crust that leaves it every bit as appealing as its somewhat sexier sibling the red mullet.
In the pudding department, the likes of sticky pecan pie and Battersea made ice cream round things off in the proper pub way. The menu changes regularly, so what’s on offer will be a surprise, but friendly service, large portions and fairly low prices should ensure you leave with a smile.
Anyone in the vague vicinity is recommended to get down there sharpish. In a city increasingly full of very good gastropubs, it may not quite be special enough to warrant a trek down from North London just yet, but it’s certainly one to keep an eye on as it's not a long way off.