Restaurant review: The Lord Palmerston, Dartmouth Park Hill, Highgate
- Credit: Archant
A short stroll uphill from the madding crowds of Tuffnell Park Tube is this recently revamped gastro-boozer. And it’s certainly well-appointed for a London pub, with a small walled garden out back that fills up quickly on warm days, a surprisingly welcoming and leafy patio facing onto the road, a pleasant snug, upstairs room and small tables scattered about the main bar.
As such, the Victorian building’s character and charm shines through the regulation, slightly anodyne buff walls, retro signs and shelves of books in the main room.
With gastropubs now ten a penny, picking the best is no easy task and this Geronimo Inns-owned place was advertising life drawing classes, a salami masterclass and an apple festival on our visit, while hosting what sounded like a kids’ party in the back room.
There’s a decent selection of lagers (Vedett, Peroni, Staropramen, Lowenbrau) ales, cider and perry on tap too, but as it was a sweltering day we plumped for the St Germain Spritz (£8/£16 to share) of elderflower and Prosecco, topped with soda water and fresh mint leaves over ice, which is a refreshing boost. They’re serving it into August, to boot.
So, after a promising start it was on to the food. A huge blackboard sets out a broad selection of options. The three merguez sausages with some wilted leaves and under-garlicked aioli felt a bit steep at £5.50 to start, but the halloumi and peach salad (£4.75) was top-drawer; a salty, crispy coating on the slab of halloumi alongside juicy, sweet peach slices and the warming heat of mustard made for a perfect balance.
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The best of the mains was the crab and tomato linguini (£11.50) which, although a little light on crab, offered fresh and juicy flesh on a good portion of al dente pasta with just the right amount of sauce, and as good as any you’ll taste in an Italian restaurant.
A salad of wood pigeon, salty bacon and plump, fresh peas (£12) was served on a great mound of green leaves and pea shoots, the meat mildly gamey but not too tough.
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But both this and the BBQ squid salad (£9.50) were almost overwhelmed by vibrant greenery, with little else but leaves to keep things interesting and the latter doused in a fiery sweet’n’sour sauce that overpowered the otherwise delightful fresh squid rings.
The real triumphs were the desserts – a bijou plum crumble with pouring cream earned its £5.50 pricetag, while a great long slab of soft, warm double chocolate and wild berry brownie (£6) is big enough to share and not even slightly cloying. Death by chocolate has rarely seemed so appealing.
The food presentation was neat and unfussy, the service friendly, and overall this is still a good gastro option. Just a little more attention to the dishes would make it a real contender.