Public House of the Month
The Woodman is a charming London pub, nestling behind Battersea Square in SW11. Steeped in history, this hidden gem is known for serving fabulous award-winning ales and delicious food – rustic dining at its very best. The menu and daily specials provide a true taste of the seasons with fresh produce locally sourced from nearby new Covent Garden market.
60 Battersea High Street, Battersea, London SW11 3HX
Tel: 02072 282968
- Dogs Allowed
- Free Wifi
James and Annie have been at the Woodman in Battersea since January 2012, they have worked to transform the pub into a well celebrated local treat. We caught up with James to see what he had to say about his pub…
How and where did you start in the hospitality industry?
I started my time in the hospitality industry in Suffolk in a Free House as a lease holder 14 years ago. From day one I learnt on the job; pub food was pretty basic back then, gourmet dishes were hand cut chips and duck eggs! After growing the business I got itchy feet and felt that I wanted to experience London in my early 30’s, so I was ready for a move.
How has your previous work differed from your current one?
My previous work could not be more different to what I do now! I used to work in the antiques industry with a company called Phillips Antiques. I spent a lot of time in India, only visiting the UK for several months at a time. When I returned to the UK on a visit I was purely seeking temporary accommodation, but stumbled across the Free House, and that is how my entry into hospitality began.
What do you like best about managing the Woodman?
I think it’s a no-brainer that it is incredibly motivating and challenging being your own boss. I also believe that being a Business Partner of Hall & Woodhouse is a huge asset. I am supported by area management, I am given the freedom to experiment and grown my business for myself!
How do your Team sum up the Hall and Woodhouse Values?
Our team operates very much as a family business, upon which Hall & Woodhouse values are built. One of the reasons we were attracted to Hall & Woodhouse was the company ethos, which we instil in our team members. We have a very small team which allows us to support each other, motivating and relying on one another, which in turn create dedication to the job.
Tell us more about the Woodman, what is special about your pub?
Our most obvious USP is that we are a country pub in the city of London. Our original business plan was to bring our inspirations and experiences of the countryside to a busy London location. We are making seasonal changes along the way; however, we still stand by this business plan today. Our idea has been well received in London; I believe guests are drawn in by the good, honest, country food and atmosphere.
What’s your favourite pub event of the year?
Speaking from a chef’s point of view, it has to be October, Game Season! For me, this is the most exciting and fun time of year, where I get to experiment with the winter menu and bring a wide variety of country game to the people of London. I guess the winter nights and log fires help to create that country feel and the pub truly becomes a home away from home.
How is your pub part of the local community? And what kind of people do you have visiting your pub?
We source our ingredients from a lot of local vendors, particularly at Nine Elms Market (New Covent Garden Market). We have begun to build great relationships with these local suppliers and we feel strongly about continuing this.As for our guests, they vary from Lord and Lady, to Bognor Builders. We have a huge variety of people coming and going from our pub, which is probably inherent for most pubs in London. The nearest underground station is 20 minutes away; so the local area is more like a small village within the city. This brings a friendly, balanced variety of guests and allows us to take the spot as the local community pub.Most importantly, we want to provide a unique, honest experience for all our guests. I believe that this is the country pub philosophy: no matter what walk of life you are from, you will always be treated the same.
What’s good to see and experience in your area after a visit to the pub?
As I said, we are pretty cut off from the hustle and bustle of London life, which means the local area of Battersea is a delight to wander around. Across Battersea Bridge are famous museums such as the V&A and there are an abundance of shops on Kings Road in Chelsea, which is just a short walk away. Battersea is a wonderful place; we are a stones through away from the River Thames and we are literally on the doorstep of Battersea Park. Walks along the River Thames or through the park are always welcomed after a hearty meal at the Woodman.
If you were to recommend a perfect combination of Badger Ale and a meal for your guests, what would you recommend?
I could list so many as country cooking is intrinsic to our menus! If I had to choose I would most probably recommend ‘Devilled Kidneys on Toast’ with a bottle of ‘Poacher’s Choice’.
Thanks for your time James; best of luck to you and Annie, and your team for the year ahead.
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