Step in to The Drapers Arms and it is apparent that this is a proper pub, not a pub that has converted into a restaurant that now only pretends to be a pub. It does mean that the full range is on offer here, everything from a pack of crisps through bar snacks to a full menu. But where The Drapers Arms really does differentiate itself is with the menu they offer, where if you do opt for a pie and a pint, that pie is likely to be wild rabbit, bacon and prune as it was on our visit. We always like seeing something a little different on menus and the menu here makes the Drapers Arms stand out.
Starters were all rather good with an on point mackerel stealing the show. With tail on and a golden sheen to its skin, they've eschewed serving up a fillet keeping a stronger connection to the idea of what you are eating. Not many pubs have surf clams on the menu and in a cider sauce together with chorizo it was a must order dish and had a nice little kick to it and I was admittedly sad when it was finished. A crispy pork salad was also well turned out and starters were enjoyed by all.
The mains struggled a little more in our view and we saw four of the eight choices that are offered. Best up was the fore-mentioned rabbit pie that provided a hearty bite with full flavours but elsewhere, they seemed to struggle to make the most of the ingredients. A plate of Scottish girolles, poached egg on sourdough caused most contention, not least because the poached eggs were presented with yolks that were moving towards hard and served cut open, but of course not running through the plate given their firmness. We asked the staff if we could have the eggs with a runny yolk, which they obliged, though we were told that of the less than runny yolk, 'that's how the chef likes to serve them' and that 'the eggs are poached, you shouldn't expect a runny yolk like a fried egg'. But even when the new plate came, it seemed flat, not just a function of under-seasoning but overall it needing something a little extra to lift it.
The burger alas did not have the depth of flavour as their earlier in the month burger entry into Burger Bash though I can see why some might like it. It is a big fat burger, so much so that it was a physical impossibility to eat through it, you end up eating round it. Bite into it and the juice bursts forth leaving a puddle on the plate below so it has a USP versus the hockey pucks served in other pubs, but by the end, the departed juice and the hardening cheese made the final third hard going. Seasoning again was for us an issue.
For desserts, a chocolate fruit and nut brownie together with a salted caramel cheesecake begged to be ordered. The brownie, densely packed with fruit and nuts, quickly disappeared under a spoon fight and the cheesecake was considered moreish.
The Drapers Arms has, and has been recognised as having, food ambitions in the very top tier of what London's pubs have to offer and that is always to be applauded. At times, these ambitions are realised, as they were with the starters. Elsewhere, especially through the mains, we felt that they came up short, though not in the ideas which were sound, tried and trusted even, but in those touches through the cooking process that take the dish to where it deserves to be. Service meanwhile was, for the most part, friendly and helpful. Overall then it makes for a good pub, but on our visit, given the mains, falling short of being a must travel destination for those outside of the local area in our view.