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The Express Tavern, Brentford

56 Kew Bridge Road
Phone: 02085608484

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 8 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Blue Scrumpy left this review about The Express Tavern

I'm finally back to writing pub reviews. 107 days after my last pub visit, a period of time which included a 31-day alcohol fast to prove to myself that I wasn't an alcoholic (!), I'd made a reservation for 5 of us on opening day for the Express Tavern. Reservations wouldn't normally be my thing. But we did it to ensure we could enjoy a few drinks on what was clearly going to be a very busy opening day for pubs. As part of the Big Smoke chain of pubs, the Express has always been a fairly reliable place for a drink or two. So, it was an obvious choice when I saw that tables were available online.

Situated close to Kew Bridge station, the pub has a couple of rooms. There is a small bar are to the right on entry and a much larger drinking area to the left. This gives way to a new partly indoor area with a sliding roof and an outdoor drinking area just beyond.

Arriving shortly after opening, the welcome was a bit chaotic. A couple of bouncers "controlling" the door approached me after crossing the threshold. Quite a number of staff also approached me. It was clearly not the new norm to head straight to the bar, which I had done!

Once shown to our table, we were invited to download an app. Lots of questions and about 15 minutes later, we finally got our drinks. Selecting a beer/cider in this day and age can be difficult, given you don't necessarily know what is on. Moving around the pub was discouraged. The app did not provide any clues. Eventually, I worked out that the selection was Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter, Big Smoke Distant Lands, Kent Citra, Pig & Porter Trotty Veck, Thornbridge Strickland, Five Points Best, Thornbridge Jaipur & Triple fff Full Back Stout. The 2 ciders were Lilley's Wild Dog & Mango Cider.

We worked our way through all of the ales and ciders and enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon. The pub did get quite crowded and social distancing started to go out of the window, especially in the gents toilets. But that was perfectly understandable given the circumstances the pub had been placed in (what a great decision to open pubs on a Saturday).

After having several pints for the first time in a session since March, we all left feeling somewhat tipsy. It was only later that I discovered that use of the app had meant I had paid for a pint that we never actually received. Despite no reply from an email I sent to the pub, the mistake was rectified by Big Smoke themselves and I should hopefully get the pint I paid for on my next visit to one of their pubs! In addition, the pub normally operates a loyalty card system, where every 10th pint is free. With Covid-19, the cards could no longer be used and it was supposed to be honoured through the app. But our "waiter" did not know how to work the system. So, we missed out on a further 3 pints.

Overall, a good opening day's visit to the Express and I'm sure we'll be back soon.

On 4th August 2020 - rating: 8
[User has posted 434 recommendations about 434 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Real Ale Ray left this review about Express Tavern (Express Ale & Cider House)

A very inviting looking establishment, on our approach across Kew Bridge. Once through the doors we took a right into the Chiswick bar, where we had a choice of ten ales across the ten handpumps. The young barman was knowledgeable about his beer and offered us a few samples. I initially went for the Redmill Brewery Extra Pale Ale, which was excellent. I also tried the Siren Soundwave and Twickenham Naked Ladies, also in excellent shape and prices around £3.90 to £4. We really liked this pub and would have no problem revisiting.

On 7th November 2016 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2976 recommendations about 2976 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Moby Duck left this review about Express Tavern (Express Ale & Cider House)

A prominent real ale drinkers, two bar pub handily placed next to Kew Bridge train station,14 pumps in evidence which I did't attempt to note but settled for a rather nice pint of Binghams Admiral. Obviously a destination pub.

On 20th June 2016 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1357 recommendations about 1343 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Malden man left this review about Express Tavern (Express Ale & Cider House)

I finally managed to get through the door of this place on Sunday afternoon after a couple of attempts undone by the previous owners' quirky hours. I have to say I am very glad I did, a splendid establishment, now run by the team that look after their outstanding sister pubs in Twickenham and Surbiton. Inside it is effectively three areas, the front room to the right of the door is the Chiswick Bar, the ale pumps are in here, just the ten of them, the TV had the Sunday football on, a couple of leaded glass screens, stone flagged floor, moulded ceiling with a cornice, traditional seating and with a tiny recess beyond the bar giving an almost private table.
To the left on entering the door proclaims "Saloon and Lounge". Boarded flooring in both, the third room is beyond and seemed to be where people eating either preferred or were directed. I sat in the front of the two, banquette and pew seating, ships' lamps, my table was of the Britannia type with a marble type top, other seating arrangements at small wooden tables. The cider pumps are in this room, five of them, décor included paintings of the nearby river plus various quotations on the wall. The fireplace smelled like it gets some use but it was a warm day. The back room has a beamed ceiling, a couple of framed maps and a brewery mirror. There is a nice garden to the rear.
A neat stripped wood arch behind the bar separates the two rooms connected to it, there are chalkboards in both front areas listing the ales and ciders.
Cask ales are priced by Abv, weaker ones to 3.9% £3.50, mid range £3.80 and 5.5 to 5.9% £4. Any stonkers are £4.20. Kegs were between £4 and £4.80, nothing like you see the silly prices in some so called trendy places.
As for the beers, they still do Draught Bass, as the previous incarnation and clearly some long standing locals have stuck with this, otherwise there was Windsor and Eton Koh I Noor, Upham Sprinter, Binghams Coffee Stout, Dow Bridge Lock Keepers then one not fully noted, Citra Sonic, Big Smoke Underworld Stout, Sambrook's Session and Scrum Down and Upham Tipster. Cider from Lilly the Pink, King Crimson, Wilces, Strawberry Lane and Foxnhelp. Well that's what the chalkboard said.
There is no question that this is a cracking pub, well worth seeking out. Right up there with the best of them.

On 22nd April 2015 - rating: 9
[User has posted 1687 recommendations about 1663 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Pub SignMan left this review about Express Tavern (Express Ale & Cider House)

Situated on the northern approach to Kew Bridge, this is a prominent traditional pub that has recently undergone a sympathetic refurbishment and rebranding as an 'Ale and Cider House'. A small porch offers you the chance to head left for the Lounge Bar or right into the Chiswick Bar. There is a nice curved bar counter with an impressive arched bar back, which serves both rooms. The lounge has bare floorboards and a large marble fireplace on the end wall with a big mirror above and lots of plants on the mantle. The room offers bench and standard seating around the perimeter and has a fairly neutral colour scheme with a few drinking quotes painted on the walls. The tables are marble topped and have heavy decorative bases and there are also some elaborate light fixtures and a nice set of filigreed double doors to the rear which lead into a smart rear room with plenty of additional seating options, old photos and brewery mirrors on display and attractive stained glass partitioning screens creating seating booths in places. The Chiswick Bar has a bit more of a basic feel to it than the other rooms, with simple seating options, an upright piano, nice lighting fixtures and an interesting pub clock over a doorway that leads into a snug-type area which apparently once served as the landlord's parlour. The day's papers had been supplied in a rack near the door and had the weather been more favourable, it might have been worth exploring the decent looking beer garden.
The ale range was certainly befitting of the pub's rebranding, with a long row of handpulls offering Naked Brewer Palindrome Porter, Bass, Bingham's Brickwork Bitter and Total Eclipse, Hawkshead Red, Marlpool Otters Pocket, Dow Bridge Lock Keepers, Milestone Black Pearl, Alechemy Daylight Strobbery and a beer called First Drop (brewery not noted). Five real ciders complimented this extensive range and there was a strong keg and bottled range as well, all detailed in beer menus and various blackboards. I gave the Palindrome Porter a try and thought it as in excellent condition.
This is a very well presented ale house that makes good use of the pub's history and combines this with excellent beer and a smart, clean environment to great effect. The pub is practically next door to Kew Bridge station, making it easy to reach and I would thoroughly recommend this as a genuine destination pub.

On 15th March 2015 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2546 recommendations about 2546 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Rex Rattus left this review about Express Ale & Cider House

I paid my first visit to this pub on Friday since its recent refurbishment. The refurb seems to have been fairly sympathetic, although a bit more lighter coloured paintwork has appeared in the room at the back on the left. The black lacquered door, with the peephole in it used by members of the Royal Antedeluvial Order of Buffaloes to order drinks now seems to be propped open, and is now painted a light grey.

Bass seems to still be an ever present ale, along with eight or nine others, plus five or so draught ciders. But you can't please everyone - when I was waiting to be served a couple of blokes were despondent that this place only served beer and cider, and no lager that they recognised. Not wishing to risk something strange like Brooklyn Brewery or Camden Hells, they left disappointed. But I was very happy with my pints of Lock Keeper, ELB Foundation and didn't give a toss about the absence of Stella. The sandwiches at around £3 a pop are a good bet as well.

This is now a destination pub for any real ale afficionado. I'm sure I'll be back sometime.

On 6th December 2014 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2577 recommendations about 2495 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Steve C left this review about Express Ale & Cider House

A very savvy purchase with the Bees' new stadium being built in Lionel Road alongside the new housing development.

On 4th October 2014 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 3587 recommendations about 3566 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

john gray left this review about Express Ale & Cider House

Now re-opened. The outside has been painted cream and green and helps it stand out as before it was a bit dull.The interior though nicely decorated has not changed structurally.Ten cask pumps 10 craft keg and 5 ciders.I tried two cask beers inc new London brewer Bigsmoke brewery and they were in good condition.Seating to the rear and now they have put tables and chairs on the upper lawn probably for the first time in a hundred years.Still scores an 8 but the previous score included a few points for nostalgic reasons this 8 is purely because its a good pub.Can Brentford support a 10 handpump pub is my only worry.Now open all day.

On 4th October 2014 - rating: 8
[User has posted 940 recommendations about 927 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

ROB Camra left this review about Express Ale & Cider House

Reported as reopened on 25/09/2014 by JB and by Richmond & Hounslow CAMRA on Whatpub.

On 30th September 2014 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2870 recommendations about 2789 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

John Bonser left this review about Express Ale and Cider House

Update - September 2014

As already reported, this pub is currently closed.

Gordon and Liz have retired - the pub has been taken over by the people who have The Sussex Arms in Twickenham and The Antelope in Surbiton.

Let's hope they can retain the traditional unspoilt feel of this pub.

Update – July 2011

Still a fine pub, well worth visiting.

In addition to the regular beers – Youngs Ordinary and Bass – beers on during my recent early evening visit were Robinsons Old Crusoe and Old Mill Full Bloom, both in good form.

There’s little else to add to my earlier review below except to report that the eco-warriors over the road have now vanished as the building of the executive apartments on the site is now well under way. Oh, and the pub still closes for the afternoon each day, apart from Sunday.

July 2009 review

Splendidly traditional family owned free house situated just over the river at the north end of Kew Bridge and close to Kew Bridge Station. This is a pub that I visit every 3 months or so.

It dates back to 1794 and has been in the Aldington family since 1882.

There's 2 bars either side of the central entrance - a public bar on the right as you go in and a larger comfortable traditional saloon bar on the left. The saloon bar has a rather baronial looking room attached, in which are some dark beams and an interesting framed print detailing the pub's history, which is worth looking out for. There's a pleasant garden at the back for summer drinking.

My early evening entrance in to the pub a week or so ago initially seemed to slightly disconcert the young barman - perhaps he thought I was one of the eco - warriors who have recently taken up residence on the barren plot of land over the road ( which is due for development by St Georges incidentally ).

The Youngs Bitter and the Bass are always in excellent condition here. They are usually supplemented by either one or two guests - these being Brains and Harviestoun Blonde on my recent visit.

The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular.

This is a fine traditional pub, still retaining a slightly old fashioned and austere feel

It's well worth seeking out, but note that it closes in the afternoon during the week

On 5th September 2014 - rating: 8
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

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