Open Mon–Sun 11.30am–11pm
Gone are the days of ‘tempura battered gherkins’ (no joke), and hello to Banger Bros, who have hijacked the menu at the Duchess of Cambridge and turned it into a meat fest of hot dogs, burgers and sausage and mash.
More punters will see a livelier vibe, and better music choices (hopefully) will see more punters. The music was ‘jukebox’ in genre—you really didn’t know what would be played next. From The Offspring to Nicki Minaj, The Buggles to David Gray and Coldplay, it was one jarring surprise after another.
Despite this, the vibe is relatively relaxed, there’s a fireplace in one corner which is regularly lit in colder weather, board games and large, spaced-out tables for casual drinks and catch ups. Blissfully, the football on the screens is muted, but it may require a light kick under the table to pull hubbies’ eyes from it nevertheless. The fruit machine lets the side down in terms of style, giving it a touch of ‘Wetherspoons’.
Young couples under 35 who live around the Brackenbury Village/Askew Village area, popping in for a ‘nearly-end-of-the-week’ drink, supper, catch up, or a flick through a local magazine. There are a few oldies too, dropping in for a pint and the BT Sport—and having previously been a local of the area, I know that Sundays are pretty packed with families and a lot of small children. A lot.
Hot dogs have no-nonsense names, such as the Smoky Polish (bockwurst with sauerkraut, hot horseradish and mustard), the Continental (containing Remoulade), and the Korean Dog (kimchi and gochujang mayo) all served in a toasted brioche bun (from £5.95). I opted for the Smoky Polish… which a week later I am still drooling over. Don’t be put off by the ‘hot horseradish’—all the sweet and sharp flavours beautifully complement the bockwurst, cradled in the light and fluffy brioche and sprinkled with dried onion pieces.
My additional side order of onion rings were terribly overdone, and the sides in general are rather pricy (£3-5 for chips)—perhaps ‘unlimited fries’ would be a great USP to set it apart from its nearby competitors, making the hot dogs better value.
The waiter recommended the bangers and mash, which we definitely weren’t going to pass up. I love the ‘build-a-meal’ style menu for their B&M dishes—selecting your sausage type, style of mash (cheesy, plain, spring onion, or mustard mash) and a sweet onion gravy (£9.95). You haven’t tried good mash until you’ve visited the D of C and tried their bangers and mash. My partner chose Toulouse sausages on spring onion mash: smoky, chunky sausages on a mountain of creamy mash, with a beautiful crushed pea garnish and crispy onions sprinkled on top.
We shared a scoop of rocky road gelato afterwards—the dessert menu is limited to 8% fat gelato in a variety of obscure yet interesting flavours (coconut and lime being another), but is a welcome light sweet treat without too much guilt.
Basically, it’s just really, really delicious, hearty, warming comfort food. I mean seriously, what more could you want?
There’s a good variety of drinks, and surprisingly a huge list of wines, although a smaller list of ones by the glass. I selected a Chilean Viognier (£4.90/175ml)—a grape I don’t have much experience with—and it was very flavoursome, with the clear, tangy tastes of apricot and passionfruit punching through.
The pub is often frequented by CAMRA supporters (AKA ‘beer connoisseurs’), meaning that the beer selection on tap is well looked after and well served (lots of ‘lacing’ up the glass apparently). The new menu also offers a handful of classic cocktails—mojito, amaretto sour, Bloody Mary (all £8.50).
In a nutshell
By trying to cater for everyone—from football fans to children—the Duchess of Cambridge ends up catering for no one and it feels incredibly disjointed. It’s a sports pub that plays muted football; judging by the stack of high-chairs and games and a function room for kids’ parties, children are regular guests; there is an impressive variety of wines from far-fetched continents… if you want to purchase a bottle; and the background music is the weirdest collection possible (‘background’ should be the operative word in a dining space).
Yet when I looked around on Thursday night, all I could see were young, (child-free) couples and friends, wanting great food and a quiet drink. The food is definitely delicious, but no one wants to eat their supper to Nicki Minaj.