The Railway is a large pub offering a great selection of cheap beers but sacrificing on the atmosphere. While unimpressive for the most part, it is still a good destination for an unfussy beer connoisseur.
On the site of the old Railway Hotel and dating back to 1880, The Railway is a large pub spread across two floors, boasting a raised seating area, booths, game machines and big screen for sporting events on the ground floor. There’s also a second large bar, couches and a good-sized dining area upstairs. To connect the two floors, there’s a staircase complete with stained glass window. The furniture, constant throughout, is in the typical old-time pub style and, all in all, is not worth much notice. The place is bright, thanks to the many windows, and functional: good for a quick meal, an evening of drinking or a meeting with friends.
The large size of The Railway imposes a supermarket-like service and, as such, the staff appear pretty impersonal. Punters are often caught in casual conversation but do not expect oozes of atmosphere coming out of this place: it just isn’t there, not even when sports heat up the room. The crowd is made entirely of Putney residents with different age groups represented - weekdays see an older crowd but when the weekend arrives, groups of twenty-to-thirtysomethings flock in for a bite over a cheap pint.
The food is quite a bargain but the quality of the industrial dishes, barely heated on the premises, leaves a lot to be desired. The menu, cleverly highlighting food suitable for nut and gluten intolerances and even pointing out how many of your fruit and veggies five-a-day each dish provide, is trying very hard to disguise the cheap processing but will not fool your tastebuds. At least you have quite a large choice of traditional sandwiches (£2.70-£3.70), steaks and grills (£5.50-£9), salads (£4-£5.50) and pastas (£5.60-£6). The mains (£5-£7) are a mixture of pub grub and international favourites meant to satisfy any craving.
The good news is that the beer list is long and structured and that a couple of pints (or more) will not set you back considerably. The selection is seasonal but you can periodically treat yourself to a Kirin (Japan), Efes (Turkey), Tyskie (Poland), Kozel (Czech), Koppaberg cider or the traditional ales Welton’s Oloharry, Courage Best Bitter, Village Idiot and many more. Prices are rock bottom with a pint of lager on draught starting from only £2.20, ales in the £1.80-£2 range and bottles of global beer a real steal at £2.25.
Wanting to provide it all (but not excelling in anything but the beer selection), The Railway offers cocktails, wine - including the scary Fetzer offered on draught - and many spirits: quite a paradise for the cheap drinker.
The Last Word
The Railway isn't likely to leave a lasting impression on you but is good for a beer.