There's so much going on in this area, new places seem to be opening up daily, that it will come as no surprise that the rather tired looking Owl and Pussycat of old, should get spruced up. The change of decor is more noticeable externally - the exterior is now a fresh grey colour, rather than the grubby green of old, but inside a lot of the old-style boozer has been retained, old-timers will recognise the wooden bar, and mix and match furniture and note the absence of the bar billiards table, which did take up rather a lot of room on the corner. The four hand pumps knock out a range of ales - Pedigree, Brakspear and Fortyniner, for instance - and there's a range of upmarket lagers, Symonds cider, wines and spirits. There's an increased emphasis on food now (it wasn't up to much, previously), with an upstairs dining room offering Modern British grub, that's had mixed reviews from others, although we haven't yet sampled it. There are plenty of friendly staff behind the bar and they're needed - the main downside of the Owl and Pussycat nowadays is the crowd it attracts. The old pub was pretty popular, but with the new incarnation, if you're not in by five on a Friday, forget a seat, and by six you'll be hard-pressed to find a place to stand. There's a decent-sized courtyard out back with tables, heaters and a canopy, but even this struggles to cope and you'll often find a gaggle of people on the pavement out front. And when that crowd is a bunch of media trendies from these parts, you'll be reaching for your ear defenders - or decanting to another pub.
Reviewed by FAP
25 Mar 2011