'homely food at its best; a perfect balance of flavours and textures, cooked to perfection'

The Alice House, Queen’s Park

Open Mon–Thu 9am–12.30am; Fri–Sat 9.30m–1.30am; Sun 9.30m–11.30pm

The style & the crowd:

Stepping over the threshold of the buzzing gastro pub I had a sudden dejavu as I realised I had been here before on my drunken way home one evening to use the lavatory. Praying no-one recognised me, I sidled around the table where we were seated and had a proper look around this time: a little gaggle of ladies celebrating a birthday party, a laid back girl with her laptop, pairs of friends and a few couples all made a nice eclectic mix which corresponded well with the relaxed, shabby-chic vibe that seems to have swept north west London.

The drinks:

While we waited we perused the wine list categorised under the headings ‘The Good’, ‘The Great’, ‘The Better’, ‘The Best’. We went for a bottle of ‘The Better’, the Sauvignon Blanc, Chateau la France (£26.00), an elegant, refreshing wine that paired well with our seafood starters.

The food:

I had the hot-smoked ocean trout (£7.00), consisting of seared trout fillet, smoked trout pate and apple and celery salad. This starter was just the right size (not so big it vanquishes one’s appetite, yet not stupidly minuscule either). The trout was fresh and flakey and complimented well by the pate and salad, however the chunks of apple seemed a little unnecessary to me. The boyfriend enjoyed the mussels (small £7.50, large £9.75) with Mortimers cider, leeks, sage, cream and warm bread. Having grown up picking mussels on the Cornish coast, I know my mussels and can safely say these were delicious and the garlic sauce a very pleasing accompaniment.

For the main, I ordered the roast rump of spring lamb (£17.50), served with goats cheese potato cake, spring greens and cherry tomato stew. This dish was homely food at its best; a perfect balance of flavours and textures, cooked to perfection and effortlessly presented. To go with the lamb, I would recommend a glass of the Australian ‘Spee’wah deep river’ Shiraz (£7.00 large). The bf had the roast corn-fed chicken breast (£16.50) with grilled spring vegetables, baby jacket potatoes, Lancashire cheese and spring leek sauce. This was good but paled in comparison to the lamb dish – a jumped-up roast, essentially.

We almost turned down dessert after all that, but oh how glad I am that I didn’t. The apple, pear and almond crumble with honeycomb ice cream (£5.50) was hands-down the best crumble I have ever had (including my Grandmother’s infamous homemade crumble – sorry Gran).

Overall, a really nice evening: lovely food, great service, good crowd and decor. I think, however, it would be more enjoyable with a large group of friends for pre-drinks and dinner than with a date, so I will definitely be returning with friends.

The Alice House, Queen’s Park, 53–55 Salusbury, London, NW6; www.thealicehouse.co.uk; 020 7624 0008

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