Antelope, KT6 4AW
- 020 8399 5565
- 87 Maple Road, KT6 4AW
- noon-11pm Mon-Thu; noon-11:30pm Fri-Sat; noon-10:30pm Sun
It's run by the same people as the Sussex Arms in Twickenham and the Express Tavern in Brentford, and has a loyalty card (buy nine pints of real ale, get one free) that can be used at any of the three pubs.
Inside, it's a low-ceilinged space, dimly lit and broken up with pillars and wooden room dividers. The floor is wooden too, and the walls are partly wood-panelled. Steps lead down to more seating at the back, in an open space with a glazed-brick feature wall and a shelf of books and board games in the corner. There's a decent-sized covered patio garden at the back, and a couple of picnic benches on the pavement at the front.
Kake and bob visited on a Thursday evening in September 2015. There were only a handful of other people inside when we arrived a little before 5pm, but plenty more in the garden, including three or four children. It was fairly lively by 6pm, but there were still several free tables, and by 6:30pm pretty much all the tables were taken. Music was playing, relatively interesting, not too loud.
All fifteen handpumps were on, offering ten real ales and five real ciders. Three of the real ales were from their own Big Smoke brewery (and according to their website are unfined, unfiltered, and vegan-friendly): Bonfire, Solaris, and Dark Wave. The others were Greene King Trial Brew 08 (£1.95/half), Black Sheep Special Ale, Siren Love Of Work, Five Points Hook Island Red, Belhaven Old Gold, Ticketybrew Jasmine Green Tea (£1.95/half), and Rudgate Ruby Mild. The ciders were Gwynt Y Ddraig Celtic Warrior, Rich's Cider Farmhouse Cider, Millwhites Blackberry Blush, Millwhites Apples & Pears, and Barbourne Hopped Cider.
Service was friendly, helpful, and informative; the staff member on duty was clearly familiar with the ales, and offered several tasters.
According to their website as of August 2015, food is served noon-3pm and 5pm-9:30pm Mon-Fri, noon-9:30pm Sat, and noon-7pm Sun. The menu photo as of September 2015 is divided into small plates (which can be had as starters or bar snacks), big plates, and burgers.
Fried squid with lime mayo (£6) photo was pretty good; the squid was prepared competently and the coarsely-ground black pepper in the batter coating worked well. However, the accompanying lemon slice seemed to have been cut quite some time ago from a rather old lemon. A small plate of hickory smoked ribs (£5) photo was also good; the ribs were tender and permeated with smoky flavour, and the coleslaw was clearly made in-house.
The vegan burger (£9 plus £1 for chips) photo was a bit odd. The burger itself had a very homogeneous texture, a bit like uncooked dough, and the advertised chickpeas, sweetcorn, and lentils were undetectable. The bun was good, though. The staff member we ordered this from made sure to tell us that the chips are done in the same fryer as the squid and hence not acceptable to some vegans (which is why they're charged for separately from the vegan burger instead of being included in the price as with all other burgers).
Our other main course was described on the menu as "Avocado, green harissa, feta, rocket, soft boiled egg, pine nuts on ciabatta" (£9) photo. This was a bit incoherent; there was no obvious way to eat the egg with the rest of it, the amount of greenery was somewhat overwhelming, and the harissa was undetectable. However, the egg was done very competently.
Our food was accompanied by a very comprehensive condiment tray, including Encona hot pepper sauce and two types of mustard photo.
Kake's verdict: I liked it and would come to Surbiton on purpose to visit again, though I might stick to the non-vegetarian food next time. It's a shame about the lack of accessibility too.
Accessibility: Two large steps to get in (no handrail). Level access to the bar, some of the seating, and the ladies' toilet from here. Three more steps (with handrail) to the seating at the back and the gents' toilet. Even more steps from here to the beer garden.