London – Richmond upon Thames (Borough of) – Railway Tavern

There are no Good Beer Guide pubs in the centre of Richmond, so I thought I’d have a little visit to the Railway Tavern, which is run by Nicholson’s. Their web-site notes that this pub was opened in 1855 as the Railway Hotel, back when it offered overnight accommodation.

The pub wasn’t very busy, but it’s a sizeable location with a large extension to the rear. There was a friendly welcome from a team member who let me in, as there’s a rope across the entrance to ensure customers are welcomed and comply with Covid-19 rules. I was told that I could sit anywhere, which was rather lovely.

The rear section of the pub, all clean and perhaps a little generic in terms of its design.

The real ales available were Nicholson’s Pale Ale, Sharp’s Doom Bar and Fuller’s London Pride, which isn’t exactly the height of decadence, but at least there was a choice. I went for half a pint of the Nicholson’s Pale Ale, which was well kept and at the appropriate temperature. As a beer it’s fine, although unexceptional. I paid using the app, which told me that the order had failed, but the drink was served about five seconds later anyway. That was fortunate, before I tried to go through the ordering process again. These apps still have some teething troubles, but I’m glad that they’ve been introduced.

What was exceptional was the Irish barman who had got customer service down to a fine art. Friendly, engaging, conversational, pro-active and all the other epithets I use when I’m made to feel welcome. I liked how he suggested a spot which had a power-point, he offered more drinks but also made quite clear that I was “welcome to chill” for as long as I wanted. As the pub name suggests, it’s next to the railway station, which means they might get quite a few customers just popping in. His service was so friendly that I commented on it when I left the pub, and he replied “it’s takes nothing to be nice”. He’s right, and what a wonderful way to run a pub.

Nicholson’s are a reliable pub chain, not too jazzy (not sure I’ve used that Inbetweeners quote for a while) but their food is consistent (not that I had any today) and the service is usually all fine. And as a pub, I liked this one, primarily because of that really rather wonderful service. I didn’t get chance to linger because I needed to move on, but this is the sort of pub that someone could linger in comfortably. The Pret down the road was packed with people with laptops, but they could do worse by moving down to the Railway Tavern.