Food the new star at celebrity haunt
Rob Bleaney reviews Proud Kitchen, the stylish new restaurant at Proud Camden
Chalk Farm, NW1
Tel: 020 7482 3867
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PROUD is famous as the spiritual home of Camden’s funky monkeys and hard drinking celebrity set.
Last time I was there pop star Jarvis Cocker was the compere, X Factor favourite Olly Murs was milling about in the crowd and Camden’s very own Amy Winheouse ran on stage to reignite her feud with rival singer Lily Allen.
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Murs even tried to give me a hug, until I politely explained it was a slightly sadder colleague from a rival newspaper who desperately wanted to have her picture taken with him.
It is quintessentially cool, a place to see and be seen, but the thought of eating is about as far from the mind as a night on the fruit juice.
Until now, that is, because last month Proud Kitchen opened in one of the venue’s main rooms.
Inspired by New York’s laid-back dining scene, the restaurant serves affordable and healthy light bites and a three-course set menu ideal for groups out for a night on the tiles.
Owner Alex Proud envisages it as “the gig-goers equivalent to a pre-theatre dinner”, and it’s certainly a good idea.
At the very least it removes the problem of people sloping off home to bed between dinner and a club, but the food should not be underestimated.
With Michelin-trained chef Finlay Logan in the kitchen, this is much more than just a place to line the stomach while starting off a night with a few gin and tonics.
Among the dishes on offer is spiced fresh crab with jasmine rice and vegetables, roast sea bream fillet and shredded fennel and rice noodles with carrot, daikon and coriander salad drizzled with Bang Bang dressing.
It’s pretty eclectic stuff, but when I spotted the Christmas roast of turkey, parsnips, carrots and potatoes there was only one way I was heading.
The portions were huge, slightly scarily so after a very tasty starter of parsnip and apple soup, but it was duly wolfed down with the enthusiasm so sorely missing by New Year, when a week of leftover Christmas dinner leaves you climbing the walls.
A caramel and apple tart to finish was just as tasty, while my partner’s alcohol drenched chocolate pudding was a gentle reminder of the party spirit central to Proud’s ethos.
It’s a stylish place to eat – designer Danielle Proud imported the tables and benches from India, added 20 antique crystal chandeliers and made a feature of the 200-year-old beams in the roof – and the food is really surprisingly innovative. But it’s more rock’n’roll than romantic meal for two.
A barmaid in burlesque serves drinks from a mirrored-backed bar in the corner and the decks and drum kit speak of the frivolities ahead when the room turns into a nightclub after 10pm.
And don’t be surprised to see Pete Doherty and Mark Ronson dining at the next table.
– ROB BLEANEY
l Set menu: three courses for �29
l Wines: from �19
l Children welcome: until 7pm
l Disabled access: yes