I bloody love a pub. The locals, the affordable grub and dogs; pubs love a dog and so do I. But did my new Oval local The Fentiman Arms live up to all that British boozing charm?
Tales and rumours of The Fentiman Arms ring with kitsch wallpapers, cutesy furniture, and they're right. Plotted vintage tables, shelves adorned with books, bunting and patterned paper strewn across the walls, The Fentiman Arms did feel like a menagerie of 'stuff' but in great fashion. Quite compact, with interiors that slightly echo the charmed, slightly run-down feel, this Oval boozer won't scare you away with newfangled copper appendages and bare lightbulbs as is becoming the new pub guise. There's a beer garden too for hardened winter drinkers.
The Food and Drink
Classic pub grub that veers occasionally into newfangled flavours is the trope of Geronimo venues, and it's just what we got from The Fentiman Arms. While our packing-it-in starters consisted of a delicious yet ambitious macaroni cheese and salmon fishcakes, the mains made a mark for themselves. Having only had swordfish once before, I opted for the Fentiman's more humble option with chorizo, ratte potatoes and smoked paprika. A booming portion, I couldn't make it through, but the meal served as a subtly spiced, belly warming blessing next to red wine for just £15.50. A vegetable risotto at £11.50 stuck as a classic vegetarian option, but kept flavours modest.
In terms of pairing dinner with our drinks, just don't go too far from your comfort zone, you really don't need to. Paired only with an affordable red (£4.70) and pints of the good, golden stuff, The Fentiman Arms won't make you feel passe for ordering a perfectly proper beer, they didn't with us (and we're meant to know what we're doing).
Considering Oval doesn't have too many bar legs to stand on (snaps to The Kennington and Cable Cafe), it was still quite a surprise to see The Fentiman packed on a Wednesday night. From a curled up corner to a broody boxer dog on the table to our left, The Fentiman Arms may be part of the Geronimo pub generation, but its seems to be one of the venues in the group that still had good ol' fashioned pub knack. Bustling, one for a roaring fire and with a staff that still acknowledge barman banter, it's clear that the atmosphere is part of The Fentiman's cosy culture.
On my doorstep, touting basic boozer fare and cosy interiors, The Fentiman Arms steers clear of the gunge tank. A really lovely pub that makes nothing more of itself then a kitsch retreat and easy-to-drink-in establishment, this Oval pub may not pander to the craft beer kids of contemporary culture, but darn if you can ignore its appeal.