KEN TOWL’s on the last leg … on his last legs? … as his search for Croydon’s cosiest Christmas pub nears its end
But my quest for the ultimate in Christmas cosiness in Croydon’s pubs was not yet over, with the best (in my opinion) yet to come.
Hearing that they had a real fire, I was drawn next to The Cricketers Arms (47 Shirley Road, CR0 7ER).
The fire was real, all right, and the landlord gets extra points for coming over and setting us up a table in front of it and then chucking more wood on to it (the fire, that is, not the table). A pint of Harvey’s while listening to the burning wood hiss and crack would have been the height of cosiness, had it not been for the unfestive music that appeared to have been set at maximum volume in order to drown out the cries of the children. Still, at least it is family-friendly.
Christmas cosiness factor: 7/10
In search of a more bucolic experience, I headed out past New Addington to The White Bear (Fairchildes Lane, CR6 9PH). For crying out loud, it is a 16th century inn. It is by definition cosy. I am 6’3″ tall so I notice features like oak beams and The White Bear has more than its share. It did not hurt that it started to snow just before we arrived; entering the dark, warm and pleasantly decorated pub was all the better.
The polar bear, a perennial feature of the garden to the front of the pub, adds to the Christmas magic. You can get a roast turkey dinner here for £11.95, or great slabs of beef for £12.95 – well worth it. You even get a free mini-mince pie if you order a coffee. Why would you, though, if you can get beer from the nearby Titsey Brewing Company? It is difficult to imagine a cosier haven from the snow but I am going to take a mark off because, despite its Croydon postcode, it sits just outside of the borough.
Christmas cosiness rating: 9/10
So, a country village-style pub inside the boundaries of the Cronx? It had to be the Wattenden Arms (Old Lodge Lane, Kenley, CR8 5EU). It is an attractive pub, it is not too big, and they are currently offering a twist on the traditional seasonal menu. You can go for the traditional roast turkey at £9.29 or you can try the turkey pie for £9.99, or the “festive burger” for £10.49.
They were clearly understaffed and we had to wait 20 minutes to have our orders taken – this does not lend itself to feelings of cosiness. However, when it came, the turkey pie was very good. I would recommend it. The festive nature of the burger, however, expressed itself through the medium of dried out slices of stuffing and a couple of limp pieces of turkey. The promised bacon and mature cheddar made no appearance at all. On the other hand, the tree was cheerful and the ambience enhanced by the provision of santa’s hats for all the guests to wear should they so choose. One party so chose and they appeared to be enjoying themselves. I’m adding a point for the hats but taking two off for the missing cheese and bacon.
Christmas cosiness rating: 7/10
But what are your favourite, or recommended, pubs in and around Croydon for a seasonal get-together with a few family and friends, a glass of something and maybe a bite to eat? Drop us a line, with “Cosy Christmas in Croydon” in the subject field to: email@example.com
Now I need to lie down. I have to recover in time for Christmas… Ho, ho, ho.
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