Tell me about how you first got started in the industry? Does the trade run in the family?
No, the trade does not run in my family. Originally a financial journalist and then became a managing consultant for a number of years and then ended up working abroad in eastern Europe and then the far east for about 5 years, up until 1998. I got homesick and came home and ended up buying a nightclub which we refurbished and launched in 1999 so that was when I started in the trade – as a nightclub owner. That then evolved into a restaurant and pub business which we sold in 2006.
Can you tell us a bit about the history of the pub; how long has it been running?
The Draft House Westbridge is the pub where the draft house idea started. There’s 4, about to be 5, of them! The focus of the Draft House is about doing for beer what our country has done for food and wine for the last 20 years. I’d like to make it be taken seriously in terms of the providence, quality, glassware, product knowledge by staff. We also aim to match that with great food.
Any notable famous (or infamous) regulars?
We have had Princess Beatrice in once. Ruud Gullit – the old Chelsea Manager and player.
Best thing about The Draft House?
I think the best thing about the Draft House is the warm welcome that you get.
What sort of food features on the menu of The Draft House? And, what would you say is your signature / most popular dish? Why do you think that is?
Most popular dish is the three different hamburger specials. We call them hamburger specials, not burgers. There’s the Yolk, the Smoke and the Poke. The Yolk is with a fried egg and glazed Hollandaise; the smoke is with our own house cured bacon and French cheese; and the Poke is with crushed birds eye chillies, old Amsterdam cheese and onion rings inside the burger. We also have a fantastic thing called the Meat Bomb which is sort of like a scotch egg but it’s full of bolognaise mix with white sauce and it’s extremely decadent.
How did you hear about Sambrook’s?
Well we sold the first ever pint of Wandle. Duncan came in when we were just starting up, and we went down to have a look and they were brewing a batch of wandle which was their first batch! We took a firkin and put it on the bar and sold the first ever pint. So we were there at the beginning and we’ve been there ever since.
What convinced you to stock Sambrook’s and which beers can we find in your pub? Are they on tap or bottled?Our commitment to Sambrook’s comes from being there in the beginning. We don’t put all the beers on the bar but we always have Wandle on and then we’ll put the seasonal ones on as well when they come in. We don’t always have them on but we should always have Wandle on.
Do you have a favourite beer out of the Sambrook’s family?
Wandle but I am also very partial to Powerhouse Porter.
If we were to buy you a drink at your bar, what could we get you?
You can get me a pint of Wandle! I’m not just saying that! It’s a fantastic beer.