Sometimes ‘cool’ doesn’t quite cut it. Sometimes – like now in the depths of winter – it’s all about good food and cosy surroundings. So from east to west via north and south, we’ve picked out a handful of the best gastro pubs in London...
The Prince Arthur, London Fields
The Prince Arthur is part of a small chain of decent London gastro pubs, and while there may be plenty of edgier, more fashionable spots in which to have a drink in this corner of Hackney, there aren’t all that many that serve such good food in such a warm, inviting environment. If in appearance it’s every inch the old-fashioned British boozer (albeit with a slight taxidermy-style twist), the clientele’s young and cool and like its sister pubs, The Well in Clerkenwell and The Cadogan Arms in Chelsea, you can expect a menu that mixes upmarket pub grub staples like rib-eye steak and burgers with plenty of serious seafood from Billingsgate fish market.
Details: 95 Forest Road, London Fields, London, E8 3BH (nearest tube: Dalston Junction – 11 minutes’ walk); tel: 020 7249 9996.
The Charles Lamb, Islington
The lovely mint green and red-tiled facade of The Charles Lamb is a very welcome sight indeed at the end of a long afternoon walk up the Regent’s Canal, or if you’ve wandered disorientated off Upper Street in search of somewhere – anywhere – nice to stop for a drink. In winter there’s mulled cider, board games and an open fire (until recently there was even a pub dog – a Staffordshire terrier by the name of Mascha), and when summer rolls back round again you can sit outside on a bench and watch the world go by. It fills up quickly whatever the time of year, though, so a trip to Camille Hobby-Limon and Tony Conigliaro’s ‘other’ place, 69 Colebrooke Row, may just have to suffice.
Details: 16 Elia Street, London, N1 8DE (nearest tube: Angel – 4 minutes’ walk); tel: 020 7837 5040.
Paradise by Way of Kensal Green
Paradise is perhaps our favourite gastro pub in West London. Aside from the food (courtesy of chef Tim Payne), there’s plenty in the way of appealing add-ons – from the live music and comedy nights to pub quizzes and a very cool karaoke room. It’s also got quite the celebrity following, with Jade Jagger having done a DJ set, Kate Moss, Lily Allen and Sophie Dahl having been spotted there recently and Alice by Temperley throwing its first birthday bash there. The only possible quibble? Trendy it may be, but the Kensal Green location can also be just a little tricky to get to...
Details: 19 Kilburn Lane, London, W10 4AE (nearest tube: Kensal Green – 11 minutes’ walk); tel: 020 8969 0098.
The Rosendale, Dulwich
True to our promise of taking in a gastro pub at every point of the London compass, we head down to Dulwich for our next pick – The Rosendale. This smart South London neighbourhood pub (owned by the same people behind The Bolingbroke in Battersea and The Abbeville in Clapham) is all artfully battered leather sofas and polished wooden floors, and is perfect for afternoon walks in Dulwich Park (or a trip to Dulwich Art Gallery) followed by a long, lazy Sunday lunch. If you’re looking for something approaching a country pub without having to stray too far off the tube map, it’s pretty hard to beat.
Details: 65 Rosendale Road, West Dulwich, London SE21 8EZ (nearest public transport: West Dulwich train station – 5 minutes’ walk); tel: 020 8761 9008.
The Bull & Last, Highgate
The Bull – appropriately enough the ‘last’ of our pick of the best gastro pubs in London – is definitely somewhere that knows not to mess with a winning formula. It’s been around a few years now, but has hardly changed at all during that time: the food’s still brilliant (think pig’s cheeks, pumpkin ravioli and mouth-watering home-made cheesecake) the wine still scores well on the quality-price ratio and the location, in smart, leafy Highgate, is still just a weary walk from the Heath after a wintry day’s wandering.
Details: 168 Highgate Road, London, NW5 1QS (nearest tube station: Gospel Oak – 8 minutes' walk); tel: 020 726 73641.
Like our pick of the best London gastro pubs and looking for more foodie inspiration? Check out our full selection of restaurant reviews.