That nasty Mr. Hitler did a good job of destroying iconic and untouched Victorian pubs. That was in the early 1940s so there were plenty around and probably most in their original condition. We saw, or at least those of us of a certain age did, the modernisation of Britain in the 1960s. Some changes were indeed improvements. I for one am always driven to a warm glow of appreciation when I see central heating radiators, and I have long felt that electricity has advantages. Other changes were faddy, though. In homes, panelled doors had white painted sheets of plywood affixed and marvellously turned banisters were boxed in. The same was true of pubs and I have no idea how the Pear Tree has escaped such treatment.
It’s a work in progress but Lulu and Daren, the new proprietors, are re-invigorating this 1840s pub with the respect it’s due. It might well benefit from the planned tweaking but I trust that’s where the tinkering will finish. This building must have coined the term “many original features”. They are here in charming abundance. Nothing has been gentrified and what seems original is indeed just that. The D-shaped bar is a gem of slatted wood; stained glass, fireplaces and lamps all contrive to create the epitome of cosy.
The Pear Tree sports a back room and a beer garden which was much appreciated by some regulars on this hot summer evening. And there in the middle was the eponymous pear tree, boughs bending under the weight of fruit which will eventually be transformed into chutney to grace the cheese board.
That condiment is bound to be delicious as Chef Sean knows what he is doing. He has worked with a Michelin-star chef and spent some time living and working in France. His food is however, solid, sensible and reflects British culinary values. Fresh ingredients and well-cooked. Un-fussy plates of real food.
It was a Friday night and most of the tables were occupied. The Pear Tree might only have been under new management for a matter of months but the kitchen has already won an enviable reputation amongst the locals. In fact the pub in general is attracting a different clientele from the former habitués. It was considered a rather blokey spit-and-sawdust establishment but now the new followers include more women and couples. Most are still locals or those working in the nearby Charing Cross Hospital.
The chef recommended the celebrated Scotch Eggs. He said he was considering changing the recipe slightly but I’d say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The crust was crunchy and the usual sausage meat was replaced by a mix which included black pudding. This might be off-putting to the uninitiated and that would be a shame. I find black pudding alone to be moreish and delicious, and I am now a convert to a melange of sausage and pud.
The main dishes offered some standard favourites as well as a few Continental nods. Grilled Fillet of Sea Bass served with Ratatouille or the Beetroot and Goats Cheese Risotto might be my choice on my next visit but it was Friday night after all and so Fish and Chips were the order of the day. A simple dish but done well with the beer batter remaining crisp till the last bite and the haddock steaming to opaque perfection in its golden coating. Hand-cut chunky chips from Maris Piper spuds were a worthy accompaniment.
The Aberdeen Angus Beef Burger at the Pear Tree is famed and was my companion’s choice. He proclaimed the meat to be succulent and cooked to a slightly pink medium rare. The beefy flavour was pronounced and this was the best burger he had eaten in a long while. Its garnishes were sparing and that was no bad thing, although one of Sean’s homemade relishes would have added to the overall experience. Perhaps served on the side along with the ketchup and mustard.
We selected our desserts from the chalkboard. An already over-stuffed me opted for the Peach and Champagne Sorbet which proved to be light, tangy and refreshing as well as being a large 3-scoop portion. My guest was taken with the Martini trifle which was indeed served in a martini glass and was liberally laced with its namesake beverage. A traditional favourite with a twist.
The Pear Tree is the sort of “local” for which tourists search in vain. It’s the style of Victorian pub that we all wish was just at the end of our road. It might need just a bit more polish but it’s hoped that Daren and Lulu just polish rather than replace. It’s a time capsule of British heritage, not of stately homes but of working-class and old-fashioned charm and worn elegance. Just the way it should be.
The Pear Tree Pub
14 Margravine Rd, Fulham, London W6 8HJ
Phone: 020 7381 1787
Visit the Pear Tree here.
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018