This could be the largest beer garden in West London

And a supersize welcome for Sunday lunch from the Drayton Court


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It is said that you could land a helicopter in the beer garden of West Ealing's Drayton Court. I haven't got one to test the theory. But I did have four children with which to descend on the poor unsuspecting Fullers boozer for Sunday lunch. And it proved itself more than big enough for the job.

The ealingtoday forum sparked the visit - discussion of where in Ealing to find the best carvery left me duty-bound to give one a go and there aren't too many in the area that could cater for our party of 18, eight of whom were under age. We didn't alert the pub to the large 'young person' presence when making the booking for fear they'd find an excuse not to have us, but we needn't have worried.

As well as being large enough to swallow a crowd like ours without it hitting the sides, the staff looked well trained at dealing with large parties.

This former 19th-century hotel is now a massive Fuller’s pub. Its main bar is about the size of pubs you would normally walk into, so finding a seat is apparently never a problem. Adjoining it is a quieter sitting room, complete with open fire and sink-in sofa. There’s also a sports bar and the dining room where we were contained with a number of other families with young children. The interior has recently been refurbished and they've done a grand job.

At the back a terrace overlooks what Fullers believe could be the largest beer garden in West London. It's well kept and has adventure play equipment for the kids. As soon as I saw it and the reaction of the children I was willing the place to have adequate food for this to be a venue to please all of us this summer.

And so to the food. With all the usual roasts on offer, I decided to go for pork for a change, but only if it came with crackling. A very affable member of staff taking our order behind the bar called the kitchen immediately to ensure that it would. And later when I asked for more gravy it came in a large jug. It wasn't the best I've ever had but not the worst by any stretch. The lamb roast was apparently similarly viewed - not the haute cuisine but very acceptable for the price.

The Fullers website boasts that the place is 'famous for its great home-made burgers'. My other half found his slightly over done but a huge plateful of chips made up for it. Since it only cost him £6.95 he felt generous.

One of us had fish and chips in good old newspaper (which on closer inspection was slightly disappointingly a Fullers chain production). I thought it was a nice touch but then I'm a bit sentimental.

The only meal that came in for complaint was the fish pie, which I have to say looked like my efforts - slop! The mash topping had obviously sunk, the two halves of the pie had amalgamated and the result was a dish of sludgy beige that someone had tried to mask with some grated cheese. Still, as I always say it all goes down the same way... It doesn't tend to wash with my customers either.

All our kids went for sausages, mash and gravy and I can vouch for their being excellent since the two year old wasn't in the mood for food. I was happy to help her out.

To wash it all down? Beer of course. Fullers' draught ales include (ESB, London Pride, Chiswick, Discovery) plus seasonal brews, and Grolsch and Staropramen are on tap.

So not haute cuisine, but for reasonably priced food this place is spot on. Great service, okay food and what a pad?! I can't quite believe it hasn't been sold off and I'm not writing a story about residents' concerns over planning! In the summer months there are regular BBQs and hog roasts. I think we will definitely be dropping in. Not in a helicopter.


Charlie Canniff

May 2, 2008