the mall tavern
Last weekend was one bathed in glorious sunshine, and not wanting to stay indoors we went in search of a pub with some decent grub and a nice beer garden, to soak in the rays. Reading somewhere (possibly twitter) that The Mall Tavern had an outdoor area, as well as tasty bar snacks, we boarded the 328 and headed towards Notting Hill. The pub itself is not new, having been around since the 1800’s, and I vaguely remember popping in once for brunch a couple of years back, when they were serving modern European fare. It has since changed ownership and is now part of the group that runs The Regent (Kensal Green) and The Stag (Hampstead). The interiors remain the same, but the food on offer is distinctly British, with a focus on seasonality (chef Jesse Dunford Wood changes the menu daily).
We turned up at 1pm to an almost empty pub, with only one party of three relaxing al fresco with a round of beers (a few more did trickle in). Undeterred we took our seats in the small patio and ordered a couple of bloody marys before turning to the short, but well-composed and pretty reasonable menu. We chose a couple of snacks/starters to share and a main each, then kicked back and enjoyed our drinks which were spicy but fresh – perfect to perk up our appetites. The starters were quick to arrive, and were decent portions considering the price. The crisp Pork Crackling (£2) that came with a sweet, yet tart bramley apple sauce were very moreish indeed (as only pork fat can be), and devoured swiftly.
The Cauliflower Fritters (£3) were not really fritters as such, but chunks of cauliflower fried in a lightly-spiced batter. The tender warm florets had a pleasingly crunchy coating and were quite delicious eaten with the mild curry mayonnaise. We made sure to mop up all the creamy mayonnaise, and B and I actually found ourselves fighting over the last drabs.
B’s main of Gloucester Old Spot Pork Chop with Colcannon had a good amount of fat, and was moist and juicy. Both the thick slab of meat and its accompanying mustard sauce were a touch over-seasoned (according to our tastes), but the mild fluffy cabbage mash and fried sage leaves did help to counter the saltiness.
I was extremely happy with my Chicken Kiev (an unusual choice – I believe the last kiev I had was over 10 years ago, back in university), a perfectly round ball of breaded chicken that released a flood of rich garlic-infused herb butter when cut into. The tangy slaw was a well chosen foil, cutting through the richness in a way that the traditional sides of chips or boiled veg, would not. The crusty hashbrown was also lovely, but the dry and tasteless breaded drumstick really should have just been left off the plate altogether (and preferably replaced with another of the delicious kievs).
The hefty servings left us no room for dessert (although I was tempted by the fantastically retro Arctic Roll), but that’s ok, as we will definitely be back soon – possibly to try the special 4-course ‘Feast Menu’ (£30-£40) served in their upstairs private room. A great moderately-priced option if you fancy simple well-executed British cooking, or perhaps just a few drinks (they apparently have one of the most diverse Scotch whiskey selections in London) and some decent bar food. The nice little outdoor space is a bonus for when the sun is shining, but we would visit even in drearier weather as the main tavern is equally charming.
71-73 Palace Gardens Terrace
London W8 4RU
t. 020 7229 3374