Restaurants; Brook Green's local hero
There's no better solution to DIY blues than tasty pub fare, says Vivienne Heller
Saturday 29 May 1999
Not just any pub, mind you. The Havelock Tavern, tucked behind Olympia, is a well-kept local secret. A few minutes in its good-natured fray and my nerves were soothed no end - maybe it was the faultless bloody mary from ready-mixed jugs, or perhaps just treading its uneven floorboards - "feels like you're already drunk," commented Vince, cheerfully.
My motley crew of five bagged a rare empty table and considered the Havelock's very un-pub-like behaviour: it ladles on the light with huge old windows, which, along with well-spaced tables and other endearing idiosyncrasies like mismatched chairs and crockery, make it a place apart. No wonder that in just three years it's become a favourite haunt of discerning locals - a stylish but unpretentious young crowd (who, Guy noted, were all reading The Independent).
More pub-like is the Havelock's no-credit-card policy, which makes for good old-fashioned ordering: up front at the bar.
Menus, changed twice a day, list imaginative dishes that don't sacrifice quantity for quality. We devoured slabs of the freshest bread before the arrival of our mains. Pregnant Anna-Maria paused just long enough to admire the golden lusciousness of her warm vintage-cheddar tart (pounds 6) before wolfing it down: " `Vintage' is the right word; lovely and strong." The boys' lamb shanks on buttered cabbage (pounds 9) were succulent fists of meat, though Guy felt his mashed spuds too Smash-like: "I like my lumps." Each to his own.
Venetia and I turned to our own dishes, large salads (pounds 8.50) topped with fabulously crispy slices of duck and bacon. But the meat wilted the bed of rocket and beans with an excessive oily gusto that seeped into the new potatoes, and after a few bites, I yearned for something tart or al dente. Venetia felt the boiled eggs with the duck were unnecessary: "like eating two generations at once," mused Vince, over another pint of good draft beer.
Our one pudding, almond and peach tart (pounds 4), got short shrift: five forks stormed its meringue-like crust, liberating juicy chunks of fruit on an excellent light pastry.
Four o'clock in the afternoon, and I'm raring for some more home-building. Floored at the first fence: my trusty professional can barely lift her bloody mary, let alone a hammer. Hell, you just can't get the staff nowadays...
57 Masbro Rd, Brook Green, London W14 (0171-603 5374)
The Cow 89 Westbourne Grove, W2 (0171-221 5400) Enjoy Guinness and oysters
The Vine 86 Highgate Rd, NW5 (0171-209 0038) Excellent food inside or al fresco
The Windsor Castle 114 Campden Hill Rd, W8 (0171-243 9551) Great sausages and seasonal fare
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
- 5 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Benefits 'smart cards' plan revealed by Iain Duncan Smith to stop claimants spending welfare money on alcohol
- < Previous
- Next >