Moments away from Edgware Road, overlooking Paddington basin, Draft House Paddington is the latest opening from the Draft House family. A haven for hops-heads, this pub group takes everything about beer seriously, changing their draft brews more than most people change their socks. Just as we round the corner to the venue my dining companion makes a earth-shattering confession; “I don’t like beer,” he says.
The clientele is a mixed bag. There’s a group of young guys with long hair and baggy jeans sat in one corner, while outside a man in a business suit sips a pint and looks out across the water. An excitably wagging tail under a table at the back informs me dogs are also most welcome here.
The walls of the venue are worth thorough inspection. They’re covered in a giant mural of the Draft House, ‘Fantasy Beer Islands’, much like those maps of Middle Earth that only Lord of the Rings supernerds fully understand. It’s clear from the off that these guys are fully committed to the craft-beer fandom.
Consequently, all the staff are all stunningly well-versed on their products, from provenance to tasting notes. They’re also all stunningly nice people. Funny, approachable and accommodating, they add hugely to the pub’s friendly atmosphere even on this quiet Tuesday evening.
Food and Drink
A waitress walks us through the various beer lists on the menu – house beers, speciality beers, beers in a can, beers in a bottle. “And if you don’t like beer,” she says, “no judgement, we ‘ve got cider and wines as well.” I see my companion stiffen slightly. As he orders a pint of Aspall Harry Sparrow cider (£4.85) – the only one they offer – I secretly hope he feels judged. I start off with a half of the Lervig Pilsner (half - £3) – mild and refreshing, it’s not a beer you’d rave about but it’s a decent brew, and acts as a nice pre-dinner palette cleanser.
Most of the Draft House venues put burgers front and centre, but thanks to the presence of a Neapolitan chef, at Paddington it’s all about the pizzas. Coming in two sizes – 12’’ and 22’’ – it’s a nice collection of classic pizza combinations, peppered with a couple of curve balls, like the Chick’n’Lickin - pulled chicken, red onion marmalade, mozzarella and BBQ sauce – and the Veganic, which comes topped with ‘mockerella’ and an array of vegetables.
We opt for the Chick’n’Lickin’ (£8.00) and a Parma Parma (£8.00), a mix of prosciutto di Parma, parmesan, mozzarella and fresh rocket. When they arrive, it’s thin crispy bases and no scrimping on toppings. My Parma Parma is a fresh and salty delight for the taste buds while my companion’s Chick’n’Lickin is a rich feast of tangy BBQ chicken and sweetly spiced red onion marmalade.
I try to order a sour Te Punga from Liverpool’s Mad Hatter Brewing Company – because who doesn’t want to try a beer inspired by a mythical Maori beast and brewed by Scousers? But they’re out, and once a beer is out, that’s it, it’s out.
I settle for a Gentlemen’s Wit (half - £2.55), a Belgian white beer from Camden Town Brewery which is frothy and fragrant, with a sweet, honeyed aftertaste. My companion sheepishly orders another cider. Both drinks go down a treat with our desserts of Oreo sundae (£5) and Chocolate Fondant and Salted Caramel Ice Cream (£5).
With terrific beer, delicious pizza and obnoxiously pleasant staff, Draft House Paddington is a great, friendly spot if you’re looking for a beer and a bite to eat of an evening. With an ever-changing line up of craft brews, you could go back once a week and no two visits would be the same.