Antic London pub group has been slowly expanding its empire across the capital for the last couple of years, showcasing an interest in period buildings in some of the city’s most unloved neighbourhoods. The Antelope is one such place, proving that Tooting can do quality pubs.
It seems you can’t move in south London without running into somewhere that's deemed ‘up-and-coming’, but when it comes to Tooting, this really is the case. With many forced out of desirable areas like Clapham by ridiculous price hikes, areas like Tooting are benefiting from an influx of young professionals. The Antelope gives locals a pub perfect for chilling out. The period building is beautiful and has been thoughtfully restored. Décor is low key with a neutral colour scheme and plenty of dark woods – this is a proper pub, albeit one that is much cleaner than some of London’s more traditional boozers. And if it’s glamour you’re after, the upstairs private dining room – AKA the ‘Gymnasium’ – comprises crisp white tablecloths, refined furniture and chandeliers.
The Antelope clearly has a loyal following of Tooting locals and the banter between staff and regulars is infectious, lending the pub an upbeat, friendly atmosphere. Although there’s a full food menu, The Antelope doesn’t veer into that uncomfortable gastro pub territory that often puts off traditional pint drinkers. If you’re into pub quizzes then there’s one each Monday, otherwise it’s up to you to make your own fun.
For a venue that doesn't really sell itself as a gastro pub, the food menu at The Antelope is far fancier than you might expect. Dishes are refined with a strong British theme and are occasionally given a European skew. For example, spinach tagliatelle with purple sprouting broccoli, tapenade and garlic bread crumbs bridges the gap between British and Italian gastronomy.
If you’re not after a full meal, however, you can still sit up to a table and nibble on bar snacks. Removed from the usual olives and nuts, there's a selection of Spanish tapas-inspired dishes instead mixed with the old favourite – charcuterie platters. Priced at £4.50 (£7 for two people), it’s a good portion of cold cut meats, including a delightfully spicy chorizo with a pleasant underlying heat that is usually missing from UK-bought chorizo. It comes with chunks of bread and pickles for a decent stomach-lining exercise that also tastes great.
This is where The Antelope really excels – it has a simply fantastic beer menu that showcases a dedication to the drinkers at this pub as well as the diners. At any one time the pub offers cask ales like Adnams Lighthouse and Purity UBU alongside four guest ales and two real ciders. If you have simpler tastes, you can still buy commercial high street lagers like Heineken, Budvar and Amstel as well as the old favourite, Guinness. The pub also embraces American beer of the moment Brooklyn beer with a range of bottles from the brewery.
The Last Word
Tooting is working hard to put itself on the map and great pubs like The Antelope can only help its cause.