Living in Isleworth, I’ve tried the Coach & Horses quite a few times and desperately wanted it to be better. To have a good pub, with good food, just a few minutes stroll from home would have been great, but sadly it was not meant to be.
To their credit they’re clearly trying very hard. Attractive décor with “quirky touches”, tick. Interesting menu with elaborately titled dishes – tick. Amusing quotes stencilled onto the walls, tick. Good looking food – tick. Repeated assertions that they are “passionate about their food” and that they use only the “finest ingredients” – tick.
Unfortunately it ends there. The food is presented well, but it just doesn’t eat well. So far I’ve had an overpriced, undersized, overcooked steak. I’ve had a burger that was so overdone and dry that it was immediately sent back before being told by a staff member that it was somehow my fault that I wasn’t able to enjoy it as it was supposed to be cooked. I’ve had sausages and mashed potato that was so utterly devoid of any flavour that if I’d been blindfolded I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what I was eating. Friends and family have had similarly disappointing dishes.
And I’ve never ordered a drink at the bar without first being ignored by a staff member who was otherwise unoccupied. Is this the first lesson taught on day one at beer-pouring school?
I could be cynical and conclude that it is just a slick marketing exercise to flog cafe food at restaurant prices to people who should know better, but I think that would be untrue and I do believe their motives are pure. But rather they simply lack the skill and ability to deliver on what they promise and the end result is just another example of style over substance.
On the plus side, there are enough guests at the nearby Hilton looking for a slice of English pub culture and local middle-class families seeking a Sunday afternoon venue to host the kids and grandparents that the Coach & Horses will continue to enjoy their success and believe their own hype, and good luck to them.
On the down side, it means they will feel no commercial pressure to do better and picky buggers like me will need to look elsewhere for a decent meal.
Annies at Strand-on-the-Green is 2 miles away, similarly priced and light-years ahead in terms of quality and flavour.
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