Restaurant review: Alice House, West Hampstead
- Credit: Archant
It’s a popular pub that I’ve visited numerous times – cosy and warm in the winter, but bustling in the summer months with a decked terrace you have to be lucky to get a seat at.
But up until last week I had never sampled the Alice House’s culinary offering – and I have clearly been missing out.
We kicked things off on our visit by ordering a bottle of the bottle of Australian shiraz – a full-bodied but light wine from the ‘great’ section of the list, which is helpfully divided into four qualities ranging from ‘good’ to ‘the best.’
The food menu provided plenty of choice, from light bites to hearty pub grub favourites with an upmarket and modern twist.
For starter I was instantly drawn to the warm scotch duck egg – a traditional favourite that’s enjoying something of a revival of late, and this pub has the dish down to perfection, serving it with homemade pickles and salad. The crumb coating was warm and crispy without any greasiness, the pork packed with flavour and the yolk of the egg inside deliciously runny.
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Meanwhile my friend opted for the chicken liver parfait served with Yorkshire pudding and red onion jam. The pâté was smooth and rich, tasting even better when spread onto the crunchy batter which ran out too quick, but was replaced with a plate of freshly baked bread before we could even think to ask.
Onto mains and, although tempted by the steak, I went for the fish of the day – a plaice grilled and served whole with parsley new potatoes and vegetables. It was fresh, light and flaked away from the bone at the touch of a fork, complimented perfectly by the drizzling of shallot brown butter and the punchy, salty flavour brought by the sprinkling of capers.
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My friend went for the other fish option – meantime ale battered pollock with hand cut chips, mushy peas and tartar sauce. Served impressively on a wooden slat, the batter was crispy and not-at-all oily, with the fish fluffy and light, while the scrumptious chips were among the thickest I’ve ever seen.
We were both left stuffed so opted to share a sticky toffee pudding as well as a selection of ice creams for dessert, which didn’t disappoint and rounded off what was one of the best pub meals I’ve had in ages.
This place is classy but not pretentious despite its gentrified location in West Hampstead, and the fact it was buzzing with not a table spare on our visit last Wednesday evening is testament to its reputation. Given that there’s no separate dining area, you’re able to while away a whole evening in the same spot enjoying top-notch food as well as a few drinks – a perfect spot to catch up with friends.