Knowles of Norwood: Worthwhile addition (February 2016)

The Antic pub chain now extends to around 40 venues spread across London and the formula deployed seems to work. The group takes buildings with a history, does them up in a ‘retro-cool’ style and then creates an atmosphere that amazingly seems to work both for hipsters and families. Prior to its venture in Norwood, Antic has worked its charms on locations as diverse as former banks (in Woolwich), job centres (Deptford) and cinemas (Harlesden) among others. Here in SE27, a former hardware shop has now been transformed. A legacy of Knowles’ previous life can be seen from the mix of tools, bric-a-brac and a communal workbench that – somehow – works. Our group of 12 (including 3 kids) were well looked after on a recent Sunday lunchtime visit, when the place was full and buzzing. In terms of drink, there is a good range of British ales and the wine list also impressed, offering diversity from a Romanian Pinot Noir through to an Argentinean Malbec. Being a Sunday, we opted for roasts and were pleased with the range spanning six options, both in adult- and child-size versions. The food came promptly and was presented well, although if I were to quibble, then the taste bordered on bland the portion sizes seemed somewhat stingy. It didn’t matter too much since everyone enjoyed themselves (ultimately what going to the pub is all about…) and the potential here for Knowles to become an established success is clear.