A Georgian pub tucked away in a quiet street, The Builder’s Arms is just a short walk from South Kensington Tube and the King’s Road. Beneath a pale awning stylish wooden banquettes with brightly striped cushions amongst potted olive trees provide an attractive welcome as my partner-in-crime and I approached on a sunny Thursday evening.
The main pub is dark and narrow so we hustled passed the zinc bar to avoid a knocking by the “all elbows” crowd. The back of the venue opens in to a larger space with comfortable leather couches and well spaced tables. My associate, illustrious girl that she is was immediately greeted by an acquaintance who literally proclaimed his adoration for all to hear. Nice to be embraced by the locals at a local!
Done up in typical gastro pub style the back area and restaurant down the opposite side of the bar feature taupe walls, intriguing art, mismatched furniture with splashes of colour via cushions, books and lighting fixtures.
We enjoyed an Australian Rogers & Rufus Grenache rosé from the accessible wine list as we awaited starters of salmon terrine and the fried calamari. The calamari in a lightly herbed breading on a bed rocket was perfect for a warm evening and we enjoyed it thoroughly. The terrine was an escaped oversized appetizer from the ‘70’s. Thinly sliced smoked salmon layered with masses of cream cheese it would have been fine as an amuse-bouche or shared four-ways but the giant slab was far too intense for a single serving. The potato salad accompanying the terrine was also a surprise – a tasty one – with a mixture of herbs, finely sliced red-onion, egg and potato this delighted us both.
Our mains, roast lamb and chicken Caesar salad, enjoyed with a Bordeaux and a Pinot Noir, were again hit and miss. Luckily I scored the hit with the beautifully cooked roast lamb while the associate received the pedestrian salad. Honestly is it too much to ask that a salad not include the big lumpy core of romaine?
Service was patchy with the exception of the relaxed and professional server who appeared with the mains. Our principal host initially attentive quickly lost interest with our table leaving us unattended and ignored through “the incident”.
Four drunks entering from outside decided our corner table was the place to hang out. My handbag was unceremoniously tossed at me as the largest of this inebriated crew declared our third seat available and plonked himself down at the table where he and his drunken date deposited their drinks. With our server approaching – or so we thought- we gave a hopeful look and an inclined nod towards the interlopers. Sure he would intervene we were however blanked as he turned around despite having clearly clocked the events. The uncomfortable situation continued for at least another 10 minutes while, pinned in by the drunks, we tried in vain to get the waiters attention while he chatted with bar staff. Then as the large drunk stood up and literally sat his abundant posterior on our table we were thankfully able to signal to the outside doorman who finally moved this party along. We quickly finished our shared dessert – the average sticky toffee and called it a night an unforgiveable episode marring what would have otherwise been a fine meal.Free wifi and highchairs are available.
The Builder’s Arms
13 Britten Street,
London, UK, SW3 3TY
0207 349 9040