London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Lord Palmerston

It’s difficult to imagine a pub named after Tony Blair or David Cameron, but Tufnell Park does have a pub named after a British Prime Minister, The Lord Palmerston on Dartmouth Park Hill.

A short walk from the tube station on a leafy suburban street, the Lord Palmerston it is a retreat away from busy London life; an oasis of calm in which to unwind, perhaps after a stroll on nearby Parliament Hill. This part of North London is not short of decent gastropubs in which to enjoy a glass of wine and some tasty food, and we are making it our mission to try as many as possible, but we still have our favourites that we love to return to and this is one.

The actual Lord Palmerston is perhaps most notable for being the last British Prime Minister to die whilst in office, but the most remarkable thing about the pub is the food. We visited on a Thursday night, which at this particular pub is steak night. We wish every night could be steak night, so we certainly picked the right time to go, but it’s not just red meat on offer. The menu incorporates a wide range of modern English-inspired dishes including pork three ways, wood pigeon and stuffed lamb saddle. A cut above the usual pub grub.

We kicked off our meal with katsu pork and soup of the day, which, on the day we visited was ham hock and pea. The soup was thick, rich and creamy with plenty of chunky ham, very comforting on a cold rainy evening like the one we were experiencing. The katsu pork, usually considered a Japanese dish, was several cutlets of meat deep fried in breadcrumbs. In a playful twist, instead of wasabi, the dish was served with horseradish; a nod to the English heritage of the pub. A relatively light dish, we found it cooked to a very high standard (moist and tender in every piece), but the pork itself was not filled with the taste we were expecting. In fact there was very little at all, relying on the fiery horseradish to bring it alive.

Naturally, for the main course we opted for a sirloin steak, served medium rare. A full range of other cuts were available, along with a long list of accompanying sauces. The diet has to go right out of the window when comfort food like this is on offer, so alongside a generous portion of chips, the steak was topped with a blue cheese/butter hybrid. A regular cheese sauce can sometimes swamp the meat, but the blue cheese butter melted gradually, slowly releasing the delicious and familiar blue cheese flavour. The meat itself was perfectly medium rare with very little fat, and served in a suitably sized portion size. We also tried the more virtuous option of grilled sea bream with asparagus and poached egg, a dish that again disappointed in terms of flavour but was well cooked, well presented and very fresh.

To finish, we let ourselves go and gorged on the Guinness and dark chocolate brownie, which, if it was any richer would be rivaling Bill Gates and Roman Abramovich. The Guinness tasted nothing like a regular pint of the black stuff, but did give it a delicious bitter taste. Very satisfying.

Despite the lightness of taste in some of the dishes, the menu at The Lord Palmerston is very agreeable and very well-cooked. We also loved the cosy environment and presentation of the pub, carefully ensuring the traditional married with the more modern elements of the interior. There is also a fantastic, if somewhat smallish, beer garden at the rear of the pub, which we were unable to take advantage of during this particular visit, but which we would certainly like to take full advantage of in better weather. So, in an area of London densely populated with excellent pubs, the competition clearly keeps the standards high. The Lord Palmerston is certainly a pub we hope to be revisiting soon.

33 Dartmouth Park Hill, NW5 1HU

Food and drink: 3.5/5
Value: 4/5
Service: 5/5


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