It’s autumn and that means we’re into perfect pub weather – good news then that there’s a ton of old pubs that have been brought back to life in the city. There’s a debate to be had whether these are actual pubs in the truest sense of the word or really restaurants that happen to live inside pubs, but when the food is this good, we’re not gonna argue about it. Call them pubs, call them gastropubs, call them whatever you want, but here are some recently opened boozers boasting some serious food creds.
The Baring, on a quiet Islington backstreet just off Regent’s Canal, looks understated with dark green paint and dried flowers lifting the otherwise sparingly decorated room, but there’s some serious pedigree making the place run. Adam Symonds and chef Rob Tecwyn met at The Bull and Last in Highgate 10 years ago, and since then Rob has been head chef at the likes of Dabbous and The Henrietta Hotel, with Adam rocking up stints at Orasay and Six Portland Road.
The Baring definitely leans more towards the gastro rather than the pub, though there are stools at the bar where you can perch with a pint from some of the UK’s best small breweries or a bottle from the low-intervention wine list. Sustainability, seasonality and provenance are central to the operation here for both the drinks and the food and it’s a superb menu that goes beyond standard gastropub fare by effortlessly incorporating different cultural influences into the dishes.
55 Baring St, London N1 3DS
This pub has been around since 1870 though its most recent incarnation was The Italian Job and it’s safe to say The Pelican today is a marked improvement. There’s a lot of talent behind the pub: James Gummer, who has 7 Saints down the road; Phil Winser, who was one of the people behind NYC’s The Fat Radish (RIP); and Head Chef Owen Kenworthy, who was the original chef at Brawn when it opened.
The menu is seasonal European, with lots of classic pub dishes elevated through the use of amazing ingredients and more modern spins – sausage rolls, mince on toast, monkfish scampi, smoked potatoes, bavette steak and lobster pie have all made appearances. Like the menu, the guys have done a great job on the interiors, creating a light-filled airy space whilst retaining some classic pub features including a dartboard.
45 All Saints Rd, London W11 1HE
The Tamil Prince
On the quiet backstreets of Barnsbury, The Tamil Prince has taken over a nice whitewashed corner pub building that was previously called the Cuckoo. The reinvention is headed up by an ex-Roti King duo, chef Prince Durairaj and Glen Leeson, so it’s a mash-up of a classic London pub but with food inspired by Prince’s childhood home of Tamil Nadu in southern India. And what a combo it is with the likes of crisp battered okra fries, pulled beef uttapam with chilli coconut chutney, huge grilled prawns in a spicy tomato sauce, channa bhatura and gulab jamun with ice cream coming out of the kitchen.
115 Hemingford Road, London N1 1BZ
The Princess Victoria pub in Kensington has had a complete refurb and transformed into The Holland, with a pub on the ground floor, a dining room upstairs, and Max de Nahlik (ex-Duke of Cambridge and co-founder of pop-up Oxalis) taking care of the food across both areas. The new look includes sage green walls, exposed brick and emerald tiles lining the repurposed floorboard bar in the pub and more reclaimed furniture up in the dining room. As well as making use of upcycled materials for the interiors, there’ll be no single-use plastics on site either and Max is working with food suppliers who have strong ethical and sustainable creds, including The Ethical Butcher, Henderson’s and Wildfarmed. Max’s menu includes dishes like spiced brown crab on toast; tomatoes with peach, chilli, pangrattato & smoked tofu; pork collar steak with greengage chutney, kohlrabi & beetroot; hake with piperade & fennel salad; and almond tart with double cream.
25 Earls Court Road, London W8 6EB
The Audley pub has been propping up the corner of Mount Street and South Audley Street in Mayfair for over 200 years and it’s just been revived courtesy of Artfarm, the boutique hospo group founded by gallerists Iwan and Manuela Wirth, that’s already done The Fife Arms in Braemar and Roth Bar & Grill in Somerset. Original interior features including the dark wood and 19th-century ceiling clock have been restored, with new additions including a bright ceiling artwork from Phyllida Barlow.
Chef Jamie Shears has created a menu of classics, we’re talking smoked eel & horseradish on toast, split pea & ham hock soup, a fish finger sandwich with tartare sauce, and a London Dip with horseradish sauce & gravy, and there are local beers from Sambrook’s Brewery in Battersea on at the bar.
41-43 Mount St, London W1K 2RX
The Chelsea Pig
The Chelsea Pig has been standing on the corner of Old Church Street and Poulton Street since 1892, and it’s recently had a makeover thanks to designer Timothy Oulton. He’s better known for furniture rather than pubs, but he’s put his stamp on the place with a black crackle timber bar, leather banquettes, oak beam flooring, and vintage trophies on the walls.
Like the design, the menu has been refined to focus on elevated pub grub dishes, with the likes of Glamorgan pork croquettes with toffee apple sauce; duck liver parfait with prune & ginger chutney and gingerbread; beer battered haddock & chips with tartare sauce; spatchcock baby chicken with apricot puree; and marmalade bread pudding with toast ice cream on the menu, and roasts served with all the trimmings on Sundays.
35 Old Church Street, London SW3 5BS