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Jun 13, 2008 01:18 PM

LONDON: Can't miss gastropubs?

Hi All- Will be in London next week from the States for work- I'm a big fan of the gastropub, can anyone suggest any can't miss locations? Food quality is a higher priority than drink selection, atmosphere or price.

Some idea of crowding level / best time to go would also be helpful.

We're staying in Hammersmith but don't mind traveling, as long as it's close to a tube stop.

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  1. Anchor and Hope of course, on The Cut. And The Eagle on Farringdon Road (went to both in May and still had slightly better meal at The Eagle). This is a very popular question, so suggest you search this board for additional names.

    Neither of these places take reservations, so go early or be prepared to wait. That being said, two of us walked right in and got a table at the Anchor and Hope at 8 pm on a Friday night in early May. But from most posters comments that's not usual.

    By the way -- don't know how familiar you are with London pubs but at least at The Eagle, service to the tables is only delivery of your food. You still order at the bar. Anchor and Hope had full service in the dining room area.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Joan Kureczka

      I haven't been, but The Havelock Tavern is supposed to be good and is not far from Hammersmith. The Anglesea Arms is also a gastropub in the area that gets good reviews.

      I quite like The Pig's Ear in Chelsea, which also has a restaurant upstairs.

    2. do NOT miss the Marquess Tavern!!!! 32 Canonbury Street London.

      they won the award for best gastropub in 2006 in time out mag. i've been there twice and it is FANTASTIC!! great staff, great menu.

      1. Head west and visit "The Devonshire" which is one of Gordon Ramsay's pubs, it is in Chiswick, the next suburb over, and about a mile and a bit from the centre of Hammersmith. I have yet to go but a couple of reviewers I trust have and comment very favorably. You do need to book a table, and it is popular, so book early.

        1. Whilst I'd agree with all the above recs please bear in mind that the UK is predicated more on drinking than food. So always consider a good pub followed by a decent restaurant. There's enough of both around.

          Gastros (in the UK) are the equivalent of neighbourhood joints rather than some sort of 'must go to' place and service and food can be variable because of the peripatetic nature of the UK catering industry. Please bear that in mind and modify your expectations appropriately.

          That said, A&H is still one of my favourites. If you are willing to eat a bit earlier than normal the quality of the ingredients, the cooking and the service is spot on. Pretty good considering the number of years they've been going. The Carpenters Arms, not far from Hammersmith, has been getting a lot of good crit but a little judicious googling never hurts as restaurant reviewers for UK newspapers are pretty easily bought.

          Lastly, try and eat seasonal. You're in the middle of the English Asparagus Season, Strawberries are arriving etc. Our best seasonal produce compares with anything, anywhere in the world IMHO.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Hermano Primero

            i don't agree entirely with the above post. gastro pubs can most certainly be must go to places for out-of-towners. "the eagle" is just as good for lunch as dinner, "the gun" has an amazing terrace.

            1. re: bvorono

              Sorry, I'll have to disagree.

              I've been going to the Eagle since it openened over ten years ago but I've never considered it a "go-to " place. Fine if you're in the area but's still heaviliy predicated on boozing. I'd rather go somewhere else to eat.

              Re The Gun, you're not seriously suggesting people schlep out to beyond Docklands to a small terrace full of mouth-breathing, lager-swilling suits to eat some charred chouriço ?

              1. re: bvorono

                There's a big difference between "gastro pubs" in London, and those in other parts of the country that function as half pub/half restaurant. I have to agree with Hermano - if you're coming to London and want to enjoy really good food, city pubs are really uninspiring, no matter how gastro.

                I suppose an English pub is essential to a visit, but the food is rarely great.

                1. re: nanette

                  Nanette - you make a good point.

                  One of the problems with "gastrpubs" down here in the west country is that they have all become restaurants. 90% of the space is usually dedicated to food with the few surviving drinkers squeezed into the bar. There are a few notable exceptions that remember their roots and are still pubs at heart, but the worst culprits have gone as far as giving the interior a "chelsea" makover with lots of designer features - microsuede chairs, feature walls, and blond wood furniture.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    I'd agree with that. We went to a gastropub last night which was really a restaurant (The Palmerston in East Dulwich). Not cheap either at £50 a head, but we did have a bottle of champagne as it was a birthday celebration. The food was pretty good - my starter was a bit lacklustre, but my main of sea trout was absolutely delicious.

              2. re: Hermano Primero

                I agree with you - I love my local gastropub (Prince Regent in Herne Hill), and the food is pretty good, but I wouldn't recommend a special trip if you're not a local.

                1. re: greedygirl

                  Pubs (in London at least) are becoming a bit of an endangered species with many closing every week. I can see the argument that if they weren't gastropubbed they'd be turned into flats but it's still sad to see part of this country's heritage going down the swanee.

              3. Here's an extract from a recent post on my blog which you may find of interest.

                One of our regular destinations -The Greyhound, 136 Battersea High Street certainly use fresh seasonal produce which has been carefully sourced and the exceptional wine list makes it stand out among gastropubs.

                Konstam at the Prince Albert, 2 Acton Street, Kings Cross is another gastropub worth thinking about; chef/proprietor Oliver Rowe has made a feature out of sourcing all his ingredients from within the M25 and his cooking is very good. The decor is quite basic but the atmosphere is special. You might recall that the setting up of Oliver's restaurant was the subject of a TV series a while ago!

                Trinity, 4 The Polygon, Clapham Common has seen chef/proprietor Adam Byatt (he once of Origin in Covent Garden which was a firm favourite of ours) go back to his roots to create a high quality neighbourhood restaurant emulating his first effort Thyme in the same area. The inventive French influenced menu is strong on fresh and unusual ingredients and the place has a nice buzz to it.

                All three I would say meet the criteria - good value, high quality and special. They might also give you some ideas that others wouldn't think of - breaking out of the mould and avoiding the 'big names'

                Personally, if forced to choose amongst these then I'd probably opt for Trinity but that's because I'm a fan of Adam Byatts cooking. However, you'll be pleased with any of these choices - and you won't be embarassed by the bill in any!

                4 Replies
                1. re: thebigblackpudding

                  Trinity isn't really a gastropub though, more of a fine dining restaurant which will set you back at least £50 a head.

                  I had an excruciating experience there a while back and haven't returned. Most of the blame belongs to one of our dining companions though - the food as I recall was good, but not good enough to have me rushing back. The service was a bit harried, though, and I had to send the bread back several times because it wasn't cooked in the middle.

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    That's a real shame but goes to prove that it only takes one bad experience to put a customer off for good (and to spread bad news)! So far as price is concerned though - do you really think £50 a head is representative of 'fine dining'? I spent £35 a head for lunch in a local pub yesterday - good food for sure but certainly not gastropub standard (though that in itself is a term now well abused).

                    1. re: thebigblackpudding

                      I did say "at least". £50 is on the expensive side for a local restaurant though, no? Certainly enough for me to think twice about going back if I didn't find the experience top notch. To be honest, I should return if only to find out if it was the food/service or the company which was the problem.

                      Although having said that I paid £50 for a three-course meal in a gastropub in East Dulwich on Saturday, although that was partly down to the bottle of champagne we had to toast various birthdays.

                      And Trinity is definitely not a gastropub.

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        I did say in my recommendation that Trinity was a 'high quality neighbourhood restaurant' rather than a gastropub but I thought it worthy of mention in that context. If you exclude that from my list of recommendations - on technical grounds ;o) then The Greyhound would be my obvious next choice - and it's definitely a gastropub!