The Spencer 1

237 Lower Richmond Road , London, SW15 1HJ

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SquareMeal Review of The Spencer

Unless you live nearby, it’s a ‘bit of a mission’ to get to The Spencer Arms, on the edge of Putney Heath. But locals count themselves lucky. Drinks as well as the food are good here; the wine list has plenty to offer the curious, though most punters stick to the ‘very decent’ house wines or one of the beers on tap. The reasonably priced menu of ‘gutsy’, ‘tasty’ food changes regularly, but quality and lack of pretension are watchwords. Select several tapas-sized dishes to share – devilled whitebait, grilled asparagus, and Cornish yarg with pickled onion all might feature – or eat more formally by ordering pies, sausages, risottos or Sunday roasts. The normally efficient and friendly service can slow down under pressure on summer evenings and at weekends, so arrive early.

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6.7

Food & Drink: 7.0

Service: 4.3

Atmosphere: 6.7

Value: 4.7

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 1.0

Dave R. 02 October 2011

It's been my regular for some time but have always had a problem with the quality of the staff. Then today I encountered various lame excuses for short measuring in a plastic brim glass. If it's a brim glass the beer (not including the head) should be to the brim. They serve it at least 12mm short as a result. At around £4.30 a pint that's probably around 40p I'm being overcharged. When I complained I was given excuses such as ‘customers expect a head’, ‘the head keeps the beer cold’ and 'if I'd asked they would have topped it up'. I do not want to have to ask to get what I paid for. The glass glasses have pint lines and are served correctly but this experience has seriously p****d me off.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Caroline G. 14 November 2010

I went to the Spencer Arms today for the first time in a couple of years and was bitterly disappointed. My friend wanted a roast dinner and I'd booked the Spencer Arms as I remember the food as being brilliant, tasty with generous helpings. When we arrived our waitress brought us half pint drinks when we'd asked for pints. I drank my drink and asked for a pint again, whilst my companion asked for a 1/2 pint, this time we both got pints, but my friend was told she would only be charged for a half. It was a chilly day and we appeared to be sitting under an extractor fan that was blowing cold air inwards rather than extracting air, it even blew smoke from people smoking outside in. When we mentioned it the manager asked the smokers to move, but didn't appear able to fix the fan, so I had to put my coat back on. We waited half an hour for the food, and when it arrived it looked great, I had roast beef and my friend had roast pork, but one bite told us our food was cold. The plates were not even vaguely warm as if the food had been plated up onto cold plates and left to stand for 10-15 minutes. We asked the manager if we could send it back. He apologised and offered us a free drink, which seemed reasonable so we accepted. When the food came back, my friend's roast pork looked ok, just as fresh as the first time, but my roast beef looked totally dried out. I had first been given lovely pink slices of beef, but now I had dry overcooked and unappetising looking meat. It was warm, but not piping hot. My roast potatoes looked nothing like my companion's, hers looked good, mine looked like Aunt Bessie's pre-cooked packet potatoes and had really tough thick exteriors. The manager came to ask if everything was alright, but went away as soon as my friend said hers was fine, whilst I was still looking at the meat unhappily and wondering if i had the courage to say that actually it was not alright. The carrots and parsnips seemed the only fresh ingrediants on the plate. The one tiny floret of broccoli I had reminded me of frozen veg, the peas were dried out and the green beans not very tasty. The yorkshire pudding was also rather bland and it was really oily, so I gave up. We had been intending to stay for dessert but decided we would rather go elsewhere. The price for my Roast Beef was £15. When I ordered it I had been imagining that I would be getting a feast that would be worth the pricetag, but I was truly unhappy to be paying £15 for what I'd had. There hadn't been a lot on the plate and I'd eaten less than 1/3 of it. When we complained the manager listened to what we had to say and apologised but he did say that all the other diners seemed happy, which I thought was a bit of an unfair thing to say, as we could only speak for our experience. He assured me that the meals had not been microwaved and that everything we'd been given was fresh and wholly prepared on the premises, but this did not explain the state of my beef. In the end he offered to take the whole cost of our drinks off the bill and we paid for the food alone without the service charge. I feel really let down by this place. It used to serve really great food, and we had gone there thinking we'd be assured of a hearty warming meal. In the end we shivered our way through a poor meal at a premium price. I told the manager that the quality was that of a Weatherspoon's, but that was not acceptable given the prices charged. For £24 in Putney you can go to Emile's and have 3 courses of astonishingly good food so £15 for one course ought to guarantee exceptional quality. It's a real shame, we used to eat here quite a lot at one time, but I'm not sure I will eat there again after this. I was made to feel I was being overly fussy which I think was quite unfair. I was cold and hungry and all I wanted was a good hearty warming meal, which I didn't get.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Liam C. bronze reviewer 17 April 2009

This is one of my favourite gastropubs in London. I go to this place just for drinks as well as just for food. I recommend going to it for Sunday lunch and any other time. The service is always attentive and not smothering. I first heard of this place as I moved to the Lower Richmond Road and nearly two years after moving out of the area I am still going back. The food menu changes regularly and the chef is very capable and serves gutsy, tasty, reasonably priced food. Main courses include rabbit and butter bean stew, grilled herrings with spring greens and bacon, whole roast chicken on a sunday, roast pork on a sunday and steak and chips (highly recommend the chips). There is an extensive fish selection here as well if you like fish – which I do. There are a number of spirits, bitters, lagers and ciders on tap and bottled. The house wine is rather nice and I've not had reason to venture away from it. The service is better if you get there earlier. This place tends to fill up quickly and I suspect it is because of the highly residential area sitting between the end of Putney and leading into Barnes (just on Putney Common). The decor is very simple with wooden floors throughout, wooden bar, chalk menu (and printed menus) and a separate area with couches, books etc. It has a very cozy rustic feel but more of a wine bar feel than something out of Surrey, West Sussex etc. The only problem with the Spencer Arms is the location. Unless you live locally it is a little bit of a mission to get to but maybe that is half the charm as well as people who go here do go here regularly and know that it is a gem.

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