Battle of the Spoons
The King’s Tun VS The Rocket
You need a night-out that’s cheap, where else but Wetherspoons. They serve food, sometimes the seats are comfy, and the drinks are London cheap*. Great, that’s decided, you type it into google maps only to find out you have options. That’s right, you, oh broke student spending your last penny on a pitcher to drown away your sorrows, have choice. Within almost equal distance are two Wetherspoons; The Rocket and The King’s Tun, respectively in Putney and Kingston. Can you take that all in? No, it’s too exciting? Well, I, your local cheapskate, have done the footwork for you.
*London cheap is everywhere else expensive, see London expensive** for more
**London expensive, a studio flat with a shared bathroom being over a grand a month
Regularly, my group find ourselves in The Rocket Putney; however, four of us did a specific reconnaissance mission this past Wednesday to get a real review going, now analysing the bathroom hand dryers and quality of Doom Bar.
It’s on par with PRYZM bathrooms, only a notch below their third floor with the plush couches along the side. Great hand-dryers, pleasant soap, and we want to shout-out their “Ask Angela” service advertised on the back of every stall door.
I didn’t review this myself, before you ask. My contributors ES and JY have said of the male bathrooms “relatively not awful, but not the cleanest” and “they worked”.
Drink Prices: 8/10
This is on the London scale. On the real-world scale, 7/10, which ain’t bad. Most beers and ciders are only a pound or so above market price. While The Rocket is a more expensive spoons (TIP: you can tell if it’s a more costly Spoons based on their cocktails- £8.99 a pitcher), it’s still the cheapest place in Putney and I never expect to spend more than £20 for a proper sesh there, I budget £8 for a regular, no food night.
Food Prices: 7/10
For the quality of the food, I get the prices. Halloumi fries for £4.15 is a steep order, but damn are they worth it, (TIP: you can tell if it’s a costlier Spoons based on the small plates deal, in this case 3 for £12). It’s good bang for your buck.
Table availability: 4/10
This was a quiet Wednesday and we still had that first hour struggle for a table; however, if you’re willing to sit outside this time of year, plenty of seats! There’s also a good range of seat types with stools, round tables, quiet corners, booths, etc.
Young to old ratio: 5/10
No spoons will be great, lets be real. The proximity to Roehampton University slightly boosts this Spoons with a younger scene, however there is always a minimum of three old men taking up a table for four with his newspaper and pint. Power to these old men, although there is a point when I resent them for nursing their half-pint of ale for three hours while I stand near the bathrooms with my hands go numb from holding my gin goblet.
Varies throughout the bar, with darker quiet corners than bright open spaces. Never quite ambient, but not outwardly offensive on the eyes.
Outdoor area: 7/10
Where The Rocket excels over any other Spoons is in its proximity to the Thames. You are right on the waterfront, which is enough for me to consider it a romantic date night location. It’s freezing cold in the Winter; however, it is worth firming. During the Summer, it’s an absolute pleasure, although still quite windy. There’s not much greenery, no outside heaters, and the chairs aren’t comfortable, so alas despite the view, it gets knocked down.
One of the cleanest bars in the area, I would say. Surfaces can occasionally be sticky, but it’s not something that jumps to mind. The bathrooms are regularly cleaned, rarely is their litter, and I would feel safe wearing white jeans on a chair.
Carpet pattern uniqueness: 3/10
Speaks for itself really. Bit drab and the colours were faded, however it was still ornate and something to look at for about six seconds.
Decor, general: 7/10
This is a relative score, compared to other Spoons this is a classier décor, and for my fellow internationals it is less uncomfortably nationalistic, i.e. no memorabilia spouting British supremacy.
The “Ask Angela” service is a big pro. There have been occasions with groups or individuals staring a bit too intensely and making the occasional comments, sometimes you’ll have an unwarranted approach, and when that’s at the table it’s always so much more awkward- you can’t just walk away from the creep, you fought hard to get this table! But overall, I would say it’s safer than the likes of the nearby Revs or any clubs in the vicinity, and the staff are friendly and approachable.
THE KING’S TUN
Surely, I should do controlled circumstances over my reviews, i.e. same amount of people, same day, similar time. While I am a little too passionate about sharing my opinions on local sesh palaces, I am not structuring my social life around it. My last trip to The King’s Tun was late afternoon on Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend (ES), having a few pints between our Pizza Hut Buffet and going to see Jojo Rabbit (we’re nailing this romance business, am I right?). To the extent of fairness in judging The King’s Tun against its Putney competition, we’re keeping in mind other numerous visits we’ve had to both locations.
Here’s what we made of it.
They were fine, significantly smaller, however to a similar standard of hygiene.
Again, I in no way contributed to this review. All ES had to offer in way of commentary was “smells of old men piss”. It was a really romantic Valentine’s Day.
Drink Prices: 10/10
I always recommend checking the cocktails, and with a pitcher costing £6.70, that puts The King’s Tun a whole two pound below The Rocket. A bottle of Magners was £2.59, that’s practically corner shop value, so I was happy out for the evening.
Food Prices: 9/10
London relative, the menu was a relief. Our tummies were alas filled with pizza, nuggets, and pasta, however had we chosen to indulge, they were doing a Valentine’s Day offer of two mains, two desserts, and two drinks for £20, sure where else would you be going? Well, Pizza Hut, but had we only known! Small plates were 3 for £10.25, again over £2 cheaper than the rocket, with halloumi fries costing a mere £3.30.
Table availability: 6/10
This becomes far worse on a Wednesday or Friday night, for which we have ranked the table availability at a 2/10, however midday on a Friday there was plenty of options and a far larger floor space. Be careful, as some night the downstairs becomes a dancefloor and during a past experience my friends and I had to forfeit or tables. Generally, it’s good for a Spoons, but it’s all about the timing.
Young to old ratio: 6/10
There was a far more communal vibe to The King’s Tun, we saw families, groups of all ages, people in after work. Again, given The Tun’s proximity to the nightclub PRYZM, timing is everything and if you’re in that critical “pre” zone of about 7PM onwards on certain nights, this will absolutely flip on its head.
Very little ambience, in terms of there was no escaping the just–too-bright-to-be-comfortable overhead lighting.
Outdoor area: 1/10
What outdoor area? Technically there is a smoking area and a section for under 18s bounced back from the door, however it’s on the main road’s footpath or part of the alley around the side. It is altogether dingy.
The surfaces aren’t too sticky, the chairs don’t feel dirty, however it is just a bit grimmer than The Rocket, brought down a point by the bathrooms and for the air being stuffier.
Carpet pattern uniqueness: 5/10
While similar to The Rocket, it was far more intricate, keeping my attention for a good 10-15 seconds, and was better kept.
Decor, general: 5/10
ES said it was “very old man pub”, however I think it is far from the worst offender of the various pubs in the area. There were big framed information posters on World War heroes, however you could only tell upon closer inspection, and there were no mounted war memorabilia so there’s at least that. The seats also came in a greater range, meaning we got two comfy armchairs rather than wooden chairs.
This score varies given the almost club-like atmosphere on certain nights, overall, I give it a six due to experience of The Tun. The security is considerably rougher than in The Rocket, the outside area given its size gets over-crowded and somewhat tense, and at night there is just a weird vibe. During the day is fine. There was also an occasion where a group of friends and I felt uncomfortable due to The Tun’s rejection of European National IDs as a valid form of ID, given we didn’t have this trouble at any other bar in the Kingston area or Putney, and, when questioned, the staffs’ reaction to us. Given the Wetherspoons’ founders outward stance on Brexit, we shouldn’t have been shocked, however as European nationals it did throw us how alien we suddenly felt.
Now, these two Spoons aren’t your only options. There’s The William Morris (Hammersmith), which I discounted due to the 72 being out of order, however deserves a shout-out (cheaper, cramped, nice bathrooms, nationalist vibe, older crowd). Then, if you keep scrolling down google maps you’ll find The Plough and Harrow (Hammersmith), The Watchmen (New Malden), and The Asparagus (Battersea Park), all of which are foreign locals to me and could perhaps dominate The Rocket or The King’s Tun in being better Spoons. I can only imagine the array of carpets they have to behold. For now, I give my patronage to The Rocket- the extra £2 on food and cocktails aside, it’s pretty much door-to-door on the bus and the view is worth it.