No, it’s the iconic British pub (specifically gastropub) that’s helping English fare find it’s way into the hearts and stomachs of gastronomes everywhere. Gastropubs are essentially pubs on steroids: In addition to booze, these beloved locales serve dressed-up pub grub, and they’re taking London by storm. Chat with Nico, the guide of the Shoreditch Pub Crawl, and he’ll give you the lowdown – a revolution is happening. Gone are the days when your beer came accompanied by a suspect sausage and powdery potatoes. Nowadays you’ll find “killer mac ‘n’ cheese made with sublime English Cheddar” (at Bumpkin) and treacle cured smoked salmon with pickled apple, whisky and watercress (at The Harwood Arms). The following top 10 gastropubs in London have retained the charm of traditional taverns, but added a modern twist to classic dishes. Simply put, these spots are where the revolution is happening. And once you’re finished with the places mentioned here, we recommend Jennifer Earle’s Chelsea Chocolate Ecstasy Tour for dessert.
The Harwood Arms: With the goal of bringing a little countryside rusticity to busy Londoners, The Harwood Arms serves up the finest British produce in the form of, to name just a few delicacies, crispy duck egg with wild mushrooms, truffle and duck ham, Cornish halibut with potato dumplings, brown shrimp, carrots and stem ginger, and treacle ice cream with stout, chocolate malt and pear. At The Harwood Arms, you can rest assured the meat is of superior quality; it is sourced from various estates in the neighboring Berkshire.
The Holly Bush: Untouched by the trials and tribulations of the modern world, The Holly Bush is the place to go for a meal with equal parts top-notch ambiance and delicious food. An emphasis on seasonal cooking means the menu changes rhythmically, but highlights have included sausage roll with jalapeno ketchup (a dish that demonstrates just how The Holly Bush enlivens traditional cuisine) and hot smoked salmon nicoise salad topped with crispy quail’s eggs.
The Narrow is one of Gordon Ramsay’s venues, and, as such, it is home to some of the best British dining. Fresh cuts, fish of the day, and dressed-up classics like grilled Dingley Dell pork cutlet with crushed peas and red pepper relish, as well as Eton Mess with English raspberries and strawberries are chalked up daily on a blackboard in the dining room, bringing a sense of incredible freshness.
The Garrison – Several aspects of The Garrison make it a must-visit. First, one table – table 16, to be exact – has drawers that, over the years, diners have been filling with doodles, confessions, and full-on narratives. Second, a man delivers potatoes twice a week, and its with these that the gastropub makes its trusty chips. Third, there’s a hidden cinema room that looks like a garden-shed-cum-country-cottage, and it can be rented out privately for any occasion, be it a knitting class, work meeting, or good ol’ catch-up-with-friends time. Menu highlights include, but are most definitely not limited to, sausage-stuffed chicken breast with tarragon butter carrots and brown bread sauce, and caramelized onion tart with a soft poached egg and wild mushroom ragu.
The Gun gained popularity 250 years ago when it first opened its doors and sailors frequented looking for drinks. Today the venue attracts, well, anybody who enjoys a good drink. But it also entices those looking for anything but run-of-the-mill food. Be sure to try the herb-crusted Peterhead cod with peas, broad beans, smoked bacon and pearl onions. Also be sure to check out the spy-hole in the secret circular staircase that smugglers used to watch out for “The Revenue Men.” Great food, and great history alike.
Bumpkin prides itself on scouring all corners of England to bring its patrons the finest of the fine in produce, and once that ethically sourced fodder is in hand, chefs take to slicing and dicing it in the renowned gastropub’s open-plan kitchens. Clearly, honesty is paramount here. From Cow Pie “made with the best British beef” to fish and (skin-on) chips, Bumpkin will guarantee you a meal well done.