Duchess Belle, SW8 4DS
- 020 7498 7611
- 101 Battersea Park Road, SW8 4DS
Note: According to the Dec 2018/Jan 2019 London Drinker, it's had at least one change of management since we visited, so some or all of the below may be out of date.
For another old boozer to be given a refit is fairly common where gentrification is setting in. You wouldn't necessarily pick this part of Battersea for that, where the power station has gone to ruins for so very long and where residential housing starts giving way to mail offices and industrial estates, but there are plans for the power station and there's new middle-class settlement in the area, judging by some of the expensive cars being driven around, so the old Duchess of Kent has been made over.
Although these kinds of enterprises tend towards blandness, the Duchess manages to get it right. The bar is the centre of the room, with seating around it, some long tables, some couches, and a small DJ area (where on Ewan's visit in April 2008, the order of the day was 90s downtempo chill-out - Morcheeba, Paul Weller and the like - played at some volume but not too loudly). The place wasn't hugely busy at 7pm on a Wednesday, and there was only one person behind the bar, but service was friendly. On a visit just over a year later on a Monday, there was no noticeable music, and the place wasn't too busy, with most people sitting outside.
Out the back is a large beer garden photo with potted plants and generally well-kept, including some cover should it rain. There's also a roof terrace at the front of the pub, with great views of the power station. It adjoins a 'party room', with a few tables around the edge, but mostly empty.
With the drinks, the only slight disappointment is the range of mostly Greene King ales on the three pumps -- on the April 2008, IPA and Abbot Ale were on, Chariot was off, and on a return in June 2009, Greene King St Edmund's was on a shiny modern chrome pump, with Downton Honey Blonde on another, and the third off, suggesting they may get guest ales in. Otherwise, they have decent lagers (Hoegaarden, Peroni, Staropramen and the usual suspects), some ciders (Aspall on draught), and have a decent wine list ranging from £12.50-40 for a bottle, and with large glasses at £4-6. Ewan's grenache shiraz was excellent, poured into a large glass (but not comedically large, as you get at some places), and the house white is also perfectly drinkable.
There are bar snacks available such as fries with cheese (£2.50), cheesy garlic bread (£2.50, and quite tasty), nachos and the like, and a reasonably short menu photo of menu in June 2009. My wedges with hummous on the side (£4) were good individually, though I remain unconvinced by the combination of potato and hummous. On a June 2009 return, there was a grilled halloumi sandwich (£7.50) photo, served with a mug of chips which was very decent (if slightly over-salty thanks to the presence of olives and tapenade as well).
There's a quiz night on the first Tuesday of the month, and they do open mic live nights (check the pub's Myspace page for details) and jazz on Sunday.