“ 2a Battery Road, SE28 0JS, Plumstead. Tel: 0871 258 7649 „
As the nearest pub to my office, it is a miracle that I have not been here before. A work colleague and I fancied trying out a pub near to work but not the usual (variety being the spice of life!) so we gave the Alice a go.
From the outside it looks dire. Not anyone (except the architect's) fault. Most of Thamesmead looks the same, and the pub IS a newish building and looks it. Stuck alongside the bypass towards Belmarsh High Security Prison, there is little appeal for passing trade which is a shame, as the inside is not as bad as the exterior would have you believe!
Don't expect inglenook fireplaces and cosy sofas - the inside is as modern as the exterior and treads perilously close to the "Plastic Pub" so loved by interior designers of the late 80's and early 90's.
The staff were friendly and helpful, the beer selection (3 ales on hand pump) good and the prices remarkable (all three ales well under £2.00 per pint!)
The clientele seemed to be mainly young and local - drawn, it seemed, by good prices for beer and a large, affordable menu in the rear carvery. On a return visit (always a good sign!) I took the family to try the carvery. The chef was charming and helpful, making our 4 year old daughter feel very special as she took up her plate Oliver style.
With a choice of gammon, turkey and beef, there was enough choice for all, with a good range of (slightly overcooked) veg to accompany the meat. Admittedly the food is unlikely to be in the Michelin guide, but at under £4 per person, it represented both good value and a tasty meal. I can see why there are so many families in the pub early in the evening.
All in all this is a pub worthy of support, possibly not as a regular local, but as an affordable family treat with decent beer and wine it is a good option.
Sometimes you visit a pub because the building is quaint, or the location is picturesque, or the pub is historic. Sometimes, you choose a pub because it's there, and it has a car park. The Princess Alice is one of the latter.
Sitting in the middle of a modern (yet somewhat rundown) shopping centre in the less than glamorous Thamesmead, the Princess Alice doesn't look promising. There are invariably folk standing outside smoking. The clientèle can best be described as mixed - it represents, to be fair, the area in which the pub sits. Because the food (a carvery) is very, very cheap, there are often lots of families with lots of kids running around.
This is a large pub, and rather 'plastic-y'. Being a modern building, it has a modern (though not nicely modern) feel - having said that, there is an attempt to pander to traditionalists, with framed pictures depicting the eponymous ship (the Princess Alice, natch). There are lots of tables, both low and high (bar stool height), and a few booths.
This so far doesn't sound a glowing endorsement, does it? Ah, there is a rub. The Princess Alice has a good choice of real ales, decently (though not splendidly) kept. When I've been there, there has been a choice of up to four ales...and they are very, very cheap. At less than £2.00 a pint for actual, named, branded ale (as opposed to that in Sam Smith's pubs), this is a bit of a find if you are in that area in need of a swift half or two. This isn't a Weatherspoons, and the beer is kept better than many of the branded pubs manage.
Although a bit raucous, I have never felt unsafe in the Princess Alice. Admittedly, I am unlikely to have anything in common with the regulars, but the staff and punters seem friendly enough.
I've not tried the food (from a self-service carvery), and I suspect it's not my cup of tea, however, the customers who were eating seemed to have large portions, and enjoying them. The food too is extremely cheap, and I can see why it's a popular dining establish amongst the families of the area.
As might be expected in a modern pub such as this, the toilets are kept reasonably clean and are of a reasonable size, but utterly unremarkable.
All in all, this isn't a great pub, but given its setting, it is a good one.