• Click the picture above to see a gallery of the New Cross Turnpike after the fire and from its opening on February 2.

Freshly refurbished and reopened five months after it was gutted by fire, the New Cross Turnpike is not as good as before. It’s better.

I was blown away when he visited what I assumed would be yet another high street chain pub in August 2014 and found a huge range of ales, bargain prices, a great menu and enough windows to make the inside feel brighter than the greyness of Welling outside.

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Then, almost exactly a year later, disaster struck and it has taken a lot of effort and ‘substantial investment’ to from Wetherspoons to make sure the doors opened once again. And it is good news they have.

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The pub welcomed customers for the first time this year on February 2 and I swung by a week later.

Everything I loved about this boozer two years ago made me fall in love again.

For beer lovers, there are some serious treats on the bar: we’re talking a trio of Sambrooks’, Portobello Brewing Co’s London Pilsner, Whitstable Bay, Southwark Brewing’s Bermondsey Best, East London Brewing Co’s Cowcatcher to name just a few.

The prices are predictably low, too.

Sixty new jobs were created by the reopening and the fresh-faced staff showed all of the necessary enthusiasm. The menu is good value and appetising, though my dry burger was a little bit of a disappointment.

I’m not a big advocate of salad in burgers but even I thought half a lettuce leaf was a little paltry.

The sun-bathed interior of before is back, but now it is even more attractive and contemporary with distressed wood downstairs and grey brickwork in the upper part of the especially attractive split level.

It is testament to the refurb that none of it feels new and awkward, but comfortable. And the punters have been swift to return, too.

A decent throng of older folk was joined by a mix of working folk briefly escaping the 9 to 5, to create a down-to-earth crowd. It was the sort of business most pubs would kill to do on a Saturday evening, but on a Tuesday lunchtime.

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A final word must go to the toilets. Pictures from straight after the fire showed how destroyed they were, but now they are a real stand-out feature in this pub. Big enough for a rugby team and wonderfully finished.

The New Cross Turnpike, Bellegrove Road, Welling.

How it rated:

Décor **** Very attractive

Atmosphere **** Good crowd

Staff *** Enthusiastic

Food ** Good value but rudimentary

Drink ***** Flawless range

Price ***** Typically Wetherspoons