The visit proved well-timed as Richard and Denise had just finished refurbishing the place and very smart it looked. The layout remains the same two linked bars and a side room - but the latter is now a little restaurant and the former have new carpets and fittings. From CAMRA's point of view, the essential improvement has been the replacement of the top-pressure dispense with handpumps. Geene King IPA and Abbot are the regular beers, though the seasonal beers will also be given a try.
Food is available every session, though you need to book on Sunday evenings and, advisably, for Sunday lunch.
There is both an extensive bar meals menu and a restaurant menu. The house specialities are battered cod and plaice.
Richard and Denise have been in the trade for 8 years, though this is their first tenancy.
They report that trade has already picked up considerably and now that the refurb. is completed and the
food side sorted out, a healthy future seems assured. They like West Wickham and, not surprisingly,
West Wickham likes them, as saviours of their local. We wish them well.
[ALE 284 follow-up]
The main building is a modern, two-storey affair, not especially prepossessing, containing, on the first floor a big, open-plan bar with a restaurant and a terrace. The best feature is the panoramic view of the Ouse and surrounding fenscape. But the new owners have greatly smartened the place up, the new bar counter being especially impressive. There is also another bar in the separate Old Bridge pub on the riverbank itself. This should be open in the summer.
Real ale has never been much of a feature here but there are now three handpumps which, on a recent visit, featured Bass, M&B Brew XI and the sumptuous Wye Valley 69. The aim is to ring the changes regularly. Although Bass is the main supplier, the pub is free of a beer tie.
On the food side particular enterprise is diplayed. Where else in this area, for instance, can you eat alligator? Gator nuggets are really tasty, not chewy like some people expect. A lot of Mexican dishes are served plus pastas, pizzas, curries etc. On Mondays, a special menu offers as much as you can eat for just £3, with beer at £1.25 a pint.
The Twenty Pence Inn even produces its own newsletter, Riverside News, which is distributed around nearby Cottenham. As thc first issue said, "new ownership, new approach, ncw attitude".
The refurbishments have not altered the basic layout of the pub, so that the restaurant room beyond thc central chimney has been retained. It is here that thc pudding club members will gather to try any number of the six puddings on offer, including the house speciality, Nutty George. As well as thc novelty value, the club helps raise funds for Guide Dogs for thc Blind.