London's, best pubs with outdoor spaces - Recipesupermart

London’s, best pubs with outdoor spaces

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Our pick of the city’s best pubs with outdoor spaces – perfect for summery, sun-soaked supping



Crabtree in Hammersmith
We’ve rounded London’s best beer gardens, some included for their bucolic atmosphere and fine foliage, some for their summery drinks or irresistible barbecue food, some for their riverside locations – and even a couple for their water features.
Best beer gardens in South London


Why settle for one when you can have three? The Avalon’s alfresco options comprise front and side terraces (the latter used for private barbecues) and, in the rear, a proper garden – huge, beautifully landscaped and full of feral children come the good weather. The pub also serves perfectly well as a comfortable pub with nice sofas, a heated outdoor smoking area, and smart dining area. There’s always a decent selection of real ales – Wandle from the Sambrook’s Brewery in Battersea, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Battersea Brownstone, say – and they’ve introduced some long cocktails for summer sippin’.


County Arms
In operation since 1852, the County Arms is a big, stately lump of a pub, dominating the north end of the Trinity Road dual carriageway. Within it is mostly winter-cosy mirrors, fireplaces, armchairs and leather sofas, with gastropub nosh and half a dozen Young’s ales on draught, usually plus a couple of guest handpulls. Out in the refurbished beer garden, there’s now a dedicated barbecue station manned by a young but eager team. But the real attraction is just to be able to sit outside, with the purr of traffic from Trinity Road far enough away (just) to get a little peace. Take note that Wandsworth Prison is just round the corner, in case any of your family, friends, or work colleagues in the City are currently doing time.


Crown & Greyhound
This gigantic Dulwich Village pub ticks the beer garden box not once, nor twice… but thrice. The big, blooming back garden is divided into two tiers, one shadier than the other; while out front there’s a tidy patio area open until 10pm. The pub really comes into its own for summer barbecues, served 1-5pm Saturday and Sunday from a covered grill area, so rain isn’t a problem. Try the British beef burger, rib-eye steak sandwich or spinach and lentil burger, all served with corn on the cob, home-made slaw and potato salad. Alternatively order off the classic pub menu and indulge in a pint of prawns or a filling steak pie. The beers are a bit special too, with four cask ale pumps featuring the ales of Sharp’s Doom Bar, Harveys, Fuller’s and two regularly changing guest breweries.

Devonshire (Balham)
Since the untimely demise of Avalon’s summer barbecues, the Devonshire has become the Balham grill of choice. Sprawling though this Young’s outfit might be, it’s also attractive since the refurb a few years ago. The open-plan indoor area is done out with contemporary sofas and banquettes, so it feels both lived-in and looked after. Arrive early to bag a plum spot on the rear terrace for the popular summer barbecue, which runs from 6-9pm Tuesday to Friday and noon-9pm on weekends (weather permitting, and while stocks last). There’s a rotating grill menu, showcasing anything from home-made burgers (beef, lamb, cajun chicken and veggie) to foil-wrapped fish of the day or king prawn and chorizo kebabs. The beer list you can imagine, but the wine list is long for a Young’s pub.


Not far from Sydenham rail station, the Dolphin is a striking 1930s mock Tudor building, given a proper refurb a few years back. At the pumps, you’ll find such tipples as London Pride, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Tribute, and a weekly guest ale. There’s also a range of solid pub grub (steak baguette, posh fish pie), but the real reason to visit is out back. There you’ll find a spacious and peaceful garden, a formal criss-cross of box, privet and gravel around a central water sculpture, edged by apple trees – the perfect location for sipping on a Bramble, Alabama Slammer or jug of Pimm’s.



This spacious local does summer stuff well. The beer garden not only has its own dedicated bar, serving a shorter range of the tap selection indoors (usually a couple of their own microbrews, an Adnams and a guest, plus the rare draught Vedett, Symonds cider and plenty of others), but has a children’s ‘playroom’, perfectly meeting their family demographic with soft toys, books and DVDs for unsupervised play. For the grown-ups, there are plenty of tables on the decking at which to enjoy the superb selection of beers and an original, affordable food menu.



Grand Union
Part of the Grand Union pub chain, this gentrified bar-cum-boozer on the border between Clapham and Brixton was previously known as the Hope and Anchor. Nowadays, it offers a typical line-up of gluggable wines, beers and cocktails, alongside an all-pleasing menu of burgers and pizzas. Come summer, the 300-seater beer garden is a big draw, with good-value Sunday barbecues offering up racks of ribs or grilled spicy chicken.


Guildford Arms
Inside is more restaurant than pub, but the garden is a beauty. The secluded space has terraces, lawn, plants, mature trees, tables and lighting, and is one of the best spots in south-east London to drink outdoors. A seasonal beer from the nearby Meantime Brewery is just the thing to quench a summer thirst, though there’s table service should you prefer the longer range of drinks from the main bar. Soak it up with something from the compact gastropub menu (white onion soup, confit duck leg with lentils) or the weekend barbecue, which deals in the likes of tuna steaks, lamb skewers, or grilled salmon.


Renaissance Pubs has a reputation for providing great gardens in its south London venues (the Avalon in Balham is notably good), and the Rosendale lives up to the promise. As well as a few umbrella-covered tables out the front, there’s a secluded side garden (complete with a boules pitch, table tennis and table football), and a larger, landscaped one at the back with a children’s play area (which has just been extended to include a new slide and climbing frame). Table service keeps things civilised, with food from the posh pub grub à la carte or own-made artisan pizzas fresh from the pizza oven (installed in spring 2013): think Norfolk chorizo, Golden Cross goat’s cheese and tomato. A cold pint of Tommy (from local Herne Hill brewery A Head in a Hat), completes the picture.


Popular with large groups (especially rugby fans), the Ship’s hug decked garden has just had a revamp, introducing, among other features, three bookable seating booths with cushions and heaters. AS before, there are dedicated outdoor bars and an all-day weekend barbecue menu, which is interesting without being flash: Coca-Cola-glazed pork ribs, or grilled snapper with fennel salad. What’s more, the terrifyingly loud PA has been replaced with a new mobile-based system, which sends you a text when your food is ready. Peace at last. Well, if the rugger buggers aren’t bellowing.

Adjacent to Victoria Park, this huge nineteenth-century pub has a handsome interior, but come summer, it’s the large garden that comes into play. Its score of picnic tables are serviced by a purpose-built outdoor kitchen that’s bigger than most Victorian bandstands. In summer 2013, they’ll be grilling a range of casual meaty grub to feed the hungry hordes; there are healthy salads too, if you’re seasonally self-conscious about your waistline. The list of thirst-quenchers is also impressive, with a large rotating selection of real ales on offer, many of which are from local breweries, such as London Fields, the Hackney Brewery, or the Five Points Brewing Co (also in Hackney). On weekends, you may even find a quirky event or two, such as ‘Mrs Bear’s Frock Swap’.

It doesn’t exactly have a beer garden – rather a couple of riverside terraces, mostly sheltered by umbrellas with heaters – but the Gun offers great Dome views across the Thames. Unfortunately, the area once used for their popular summer-only Portuguese grill is currently closed to the public (although bookable as an event space); this is due for a make-over and relaunch in 2014. In the meantime, the back terrace, which runs along the river, remains a comfortable covered spot and seats around 40 for drinking and dining from the pub’s main menu.


Nags Head

Located in the more salubrious part of Walthamstow, the Nag’s Head could hardly be more accommodating, hosting everything from Sunday jazz and monthly folks sessions to a vintage pop-up shop and even Pilates classes upstairs. For your alfresco entertainment, there are a few tables in front, and plenty more in the back garden, with heaters and a couple of awnings against the inevitable showers. The pub brims with good beer: there’s an assortment of English ales (Timothy Taylor Landlord, St Austell Tribute and the Oscar Wilde Mild are regulars), and a flurry of Belgian fruit beers – of which the Mongozo coconut beer is the most adventurous or, depending on your point of view, ill-advised.


Prospect of Whitby
It might seem odd to visit a stone-flagged, pewter-countered ye-olde watering hole when the sun is bright, but head through the darkly wooded interior and there’s a paved beer garden under a weeping tree, right alongside the Thames. A reorganisation a couple of years back also opened up a small first-floor terrace, open to the bracing salt breezes. Inside, there’s a basic selection of standard pub grub (ham, egg and chips; lasagne; bangers and mash) and a handful of cask ales to choose from as you ponder the nearly five centuries of seriously sinister shenanigans of the swashbuckling, smuggling and gangstering sort witnessed by this venerable boozer.


Scolt Head
In a corner of Hackney where pool tables and a giant TV were until recently a prerequisite for survival, the former Sussex Arms did well out of its smartening up: out went the carpets and scruffier furniture and in came a more aspirational clientele, but it still manages to feel like a good old-fashioned pub. In summer, the best place to enjoy it from is the small, fenced beer garden, settled in the fork of roads in the front. Bad weather? Out comes the ‘jumbrella’, a squared-off parasol that covers half the garden. Rain or shine, sustain yourself with well-priced ales (Brewers Gold, Greene King IPA, Truman’s Runner); a brief but thoughtful wine list; and good, fairly priced British food, stretching from carefully sourced gastropubby mains to own-made sausage rolls and epic, softball-sized scotch eggs.


Water Poet
Truth be told, the space out the back of this trendy twist on a traditional boozer is less ‘garden’ and more ‘yard’, but it remains one of the few places to soak up the sun near the City. Attracting a mix of open-collared suits and a Shoreditch/Spitalfields crowd, the Water Poet boasts a sheltered spot in which to sip a pint of Landlord or Truman’s Runner. The barbecue is currently in action weekdays from 4pm and Saturdays from 3pm, with a hog roast firing up most Saturdays – weather permitting, of course.




Aragon House
This handsome Parsons Green public house is well known for its smart and spacious beer garden. This summer, plans for its popular barbecue are still in the air, but locals have their fingers firmly crossed. A line-up of crowd-pleasing beers, plus cider (Aspall’s, Scrumpy Jack), Sharps Doom Bar and a regularly-changing guest ale, is another attraction.

The Eagle on the fringes of Ravenscourt Park is a great escape. It’s a Geronimo Inns establishment, so the wine list is well chosen, the interiors are luxurious and the grub is reliably good (steamed Anglesey mussels, handmade Angus beef burger and the like). The star, however, is the back garden – a vast lawn for stretching out on beanbags on a summer’s day, swing chairs for couples to sway at sunset, and tables for dinners with friends. At weekends on warm days the garden bar is open and the barbecue gets fired up.

Drayton Court
The Drayton Court Hotel is really a pub with rooms (albeit 27 rooms), so don’t feel like you need to be an overnight guest to enjoy drinks here. Come summer, the huge landscaped gardens come into their own, offering ample seating on picnic tables set either over the verdant groomed lawns, or over a stylish decked area. Lagers and ales come courtesy of Fuller’s (who own the building), and there is a perfectly pleasant range of pubby food if you’re hungry.


Old Ship
The tree-fringed deck, overlooking the languid curves of the Thames, is probably one of London’s best spots for getting a cold-one outside. There’s an appealing selection of simple pubby food (smoked gammon sandwich on toasted brown bread, bacon cheeseburger with skinny chips) but the big attraction in summer are the barbecues, held every weekend, weather permitting. The alfresco area is split into a fully covered, heated terrace, and a more open balcony. There’s also a less formal section featuring ten picnic tables. To sup, choose from the likes of Meantime London Pale Ale, Meantime London Lager, or a cold pint of Peroni.


Although once again under new ownership, it’s business as usual at the Phene Arms, which enjoyed a wonderful garden refurb in 2010. It’s a good-looking space filled not only with comfy seating, a water feature and patio heating, but with exceptionally well-heeled customers, which makes it great for people-watching. Be warned that this is not the place for a lively knees-up – the security staff ensure drinkers don’t make too much of a racket, and also that they leave the garden by 10pm sharp – part of the licence agreement in this very well-to-do residential area.


Stein’s pub 

This is a leafy, lederhosen-slapping, stein-swaying, pretzel-munching Bavarian beer garden perched right on the Richmond riverside overlooking the Thames. A selection of unfeasibly large sausages is the ‘wurst’ they can do, while the Bavarian beers, available in towering 1 litre steins, include the golden Helles from Paulaner, Erdinger weissbier and, in bottle, the delectable dark Erdinger Dunkelweiss. There’s a small children’s play area too. In spring and summer, if the weather’s good, it’s open noon until 10pm daily. There’s a branch at Kingston (again, overlooking the Thames), too, that’s open even later.

Sweltering in central London? Then jump on the 94 bus heading west and don’t alight until the engine is turned off. Within seconds, you can be sitting in the dappled light of The Swan’s lush and leafy 30-table garden sipping well-kept cask ales from one of Chiswick’s best-kept secrets. As the local hero, Fuller’s ales are ever-present at the pumps – perhaps London Pride – with guests such as Otter Bitter or Dark Star Hophead in support. Table service keeps things civilised, as does the tempting gastropub menu (pork terrine with spiced fruit chutney, wild rabbit casserole, grilled tuna with chermoula). There’s a strong wine list too, and super-friendly staff.

White Horse
Perched on the corner of Parson’s Green, this popular pub takes barbecuing seriously. Every weekend from noon (plus sunny weekdays from 6pm), the pavement jams with eager drinkers queuing to rip into char-grilled burgers and sausages. Alternatively, there’s gastropubby food from the kitchen (ham hock and broad bean terrine, smoked eel with rye bread, Gloucester Old Spot sausages with cider gravy). There’s limited outdoor seating (with only 16 tables), but at least heaters and brollies help guard from inclement weather. You can expect plenty of turned-up collars and rugby shirts here, but the spread of customers is wider than you might imagine. Beer is the great leveller: there are usually eight ales on offer, with Hobson’s Best Bitter, Adnam’s Broadside and Oakham JHB making regular appearances, and the glorious list of bottled brews is particularly strong on Belgian and American beers. Of the pub’s four regular beer festivals, those most apt for alfresco boozers are May’s London Beer Festival, the American Beer Festival around Independence Day and August’s Belgian Beer Festival.


White Swan
The interior of the White Swan has seen better days, but this doesn’t matter. You’ll be sitting outside at one of the dozen or so picnic tables across the road on the sun-drenched riverside terrace with the Thames lapping at the slipways either side of you, and views of boaters and weeping willows stretching either way. On the pub’s terrace, a gas-fired barbecue does simple barbie dishes on sunny weekends (expect burgers, sangers, and the odd bit of grilled fish: swordfish, say). Cold refreshments include Peroni, Asahi and Orchard’s cider, while the regular ale (Sharp’s Doom Bar) is supplemented by four regularly-changing guests.

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