Open Mon–Thu midday–11pm; Fri–Sun midday–midnight
A large welcoming central bar adorned with a big vase of flowers, two sets of doors (so everyone can watch who is coming and going. One of my friends met her husband here), gorgeous mismatched lamps and light fixtures, an open kitchen overlooking the restaurant area (decorated with the obligatory flocked wallpaper) towards the rear of the pub, stripped wood floors and simple chunky wood tables and chairs make for a smart, friendly local.
This pub is always busy and you’ll spot people drinking and smoking outside it whatever the weather. It attracts a good looking crowd – including the bar staff and chefs. There were groups of arty Europeans, loved-up couples and one couple arguing (who entertained us until they made a dramatic exit) during our visit.
The modern European menu is serious but still offers what you want from a local pub. My baked goats’ cheese filo parcel with beetroot and red pepper confit starter (£7) was the perfect combination of pungent cheese, crisp pastry and sweet beet and pepper. My friend’s salmon and caper fishcake with a citrus and mango dressing and mixed baby leaves was met with ‘delicious’ (£7.50). She followed it with steamed mussels, Provencal chorizo, white wine and shallots (£8/£12) which were fresh and light on the palette. My main of mixed bean, tomato and smoked paprika ragout with aubergine, pesto and parmesan (£13) was hearty and flavoursome. For dessert, we shared the recommended chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce and hazelnut ice cream (£5.50). It was devilishly rich but was more of a sponge than a brownie.
The wine list is extensive and varied (we plumped for a bottle of French sauvignon de Touraine; £20). What’s more, the pub supports small British breweries by alternating guest ales. Darkstar Hophead, Trumans Runner, Windsor and Eton Conqueror, and Sharps Cornish Coaster make up the current selection.