Elliot Tucker explores Twickenham’s food scene, and finds that it’s tastier than ever, with brilliant independent traders, and great places to eat and drink
When you think of food and drink destinations in London, Twickenham may not be on many lists. In fact it may not be on any at all. However, that is something that has changed, as a slow burning foodie revolution has swept through the area. With a series of high-end pubs, bars and restaurants popping up alongside excellent butchers and fishmongers, as well as its own brewery, Twickenham has become a food and drink haven.
Stokes & Moncreiff is one of the area’s latest food and drink hotspots. Opened in February 2014, this is a venture backed by former England and Wasps star Simon Shaw, in conjunction with his rugby corporate hospitality company Set Piece Events. With 71 international caps and over 300 English Premiership appearances, it comes as no surprise that Simon named his first pub after the respective English and Scottish managers of the world’s first international rugby union match in 1871. However manager Steve Strange is keen to point out that ‘this is not just a rugby pub, 95% of the time this will just be a good, local place to eat and drink’.
Considering trading began just three weeks after the keys were handed over, the team at Stokes & Moncreiff achieved a staggering amount in a very short space of time. ‘It was tough,’ says Steve. ‘But Simon had a very direct vision and we had a great team, everyone pulled together and we opened serving ale from the barrel as we still didn’t have proper pumps!’
The food here is something that Steve and the team are very proud of, and the menu is a solid, traditional one, featuring the likes of hay smoked lamb and spelt and barley risotto. Steve explains, ‘We very much wanted to keep the ingredients and the food as local as possible, and certainly within southern England.’ With fish supplied by Sandys on the High Street and pints of Grandstand from Twickenham Fine Ales on tap, it seems that Stokes & Moncreiff have taken to Twickenham like a duck to water. ‘We want to support local businesses and be a part of the local scene,’ explains Steve.
With pubs and bars of this ilk springing up all over Twickenham, it is fitting then that the area should have its own award-winning brewery. Twickenham Fine Ales opened in 2004 on Edwin Road on a scale so small it’s hard to believe what has been achieved in just 10 years. One brewer, one drayman and two beers have grown into a fully working brewery of six full time staff, brewing four days a week. An average of 20,000 pints a week of any of their four regular or four seasonal ales are distributed from the new site on Mereway Road, just off Twickenham Green, all over London and to parts of the Home Counties. Their star brew, Naked Ladies (named after the statues at York House, Marble Hill), took silver in the Golden Ale category for South East England at the Champion Beer of Britain Awards. As gold went out of London, Twickenham Fine Ales are currently brewing officially the best golden ale in London.
Founder and owner of the brewery Steve Brown comments that Twickenham locals have welcomed them to the area wholeheartedly, ‘The residents are fantastic and we supply a lot of local pubs. On match day at Harlequins and Twickenham we open the brewery into a bar/shop and we are always packed out.’
Down the road in Twickenham town centre are the much-loved Laverstoke Park Farm butchers and Sandys fishmongers. Laverstoke opened its doors in 2011 and has built a reputation for supplying the best cuts of organic meat cheeses, vegetables and even ice cream. Manager Robert Bulbeck says, ‘Twickenham residents are very discerning and want the best meat of the best origin. And that’s what we supply.’ Alongside traditional meats they also stock boar and buffalo, which is apparently ‘very popular with the lads at Twickenham rugby ground’. Opposite Laverstoke is Sandys fishmongers, which has been going since 1977, and is a much-loved mainstay of Twickenham. Stuart Sandys is the owner and enjoys being part of the local community, commenting, ‘We supply a lot of local pubs and restaurants with quality fresh fish and game. It’s a battle to keep quality over convenience but the people of Twickenham have good taste!’
For a small area, Twickenham is offering a seriously impressive array of food and drink options. The rugby crowds and visitors may benefit from what’s on offer but for locals, it’s exciting to have such choice on our doorsteps.
Stokes & Moncreiff
13 Richmond Road, Twickenham TW1 3AB 020 8891 1863; stokesandmoncreiff.com
Twickenham Fine Ales
18 Mereway Road, Twickenham TW2 6RG 020 8241 1825; twickenham-fine-ales.co.uk
35 King Street Parade, Twickenham TW1 3SG 020 8744 1112; laverstokepark.co.uk
56 King Street, Twickenham TW1 3SH 020 8892 5788; sandysfish.net