Open Mon–Thu midday–11pm, Fri–Sat midday–midnight, Sun midday–10.30pm
The style & the crowd:
Before its recent makeover, I used to go in The Eagle now and then, thinking of it as a drinker’s pub. If I wanted to have a posh burger and a glass of wine, there were plenty of other places to go. Portobello House for one. But if I just fancied a pint and wanted to watch a game, where people would shout at the telly and cheer the goals in a wonderful cacophony of excited noise, the Eagle was just fine. Lyssa, the lovely, exuberant new Aussie landlady, told me, with a disbelieving face, that in the Eagle of old, people took drugs, that TV screens would often be showing the racing and that they would take bets behind the bar. She also said it wasn’t a very comfortable place for women to come.
Ladbroke Grove pubs have changed even in the five years I’ve been here. Having seen the old Earl Percy morph into Portobello House and The Elgin discovering they could be three types of bar under one roof, The Kensington Park and The Eagle have both recently been tarted up. There is now nowhere to watch a match or play pool anywhere along the Grove. I’m not sure this is a good thing as a diverse community should be inclusive – there should be somewhere for every type of person. None of which is Lyssa’s fault, of course. In the current tough climate for publicans, working out that the people living in £4m houses and driving fifty grand cars are likely to have more disposable income is not rocket science.
The offending TVs are now history. A few of the old crowd were perched at the bar, looking a bit bewildered, wondering where their old drinking buddies now were. There were a group of travellers, backpacks piled up next to their tables, eagerly awaiting their Sunday lunch. Apart from that there was a lot of space. The big windows let in floods of light, which makes the blonde wooden floor look nice. A vintage rowing boat that clings to the ceiling survived the refit and a chunk of the once circular bar has been ripped out to make way for an open kitchen.
We were specifically invited for Sunday roast (£12, whatever you choose) and one thing’s for sure: you won’t go hungry. Pork belly was a cubic hunk as big as half a small loaf. It also came with a gravy boat, which I liked as some people like the shallowest of films on their plate and others prefer something resembling soup. Vegetables were interesting (purple parsnips and romanesco) and spuds were crunchy. The crackling let the side down a bit, being soft and rubbery instead of, well, crackling as it should. Also my lamb might have been a bit pinker. Pear and apple crumble came in a dish too hot to touch but was cold in the middle and had no crunch to go with the soft fruit. Generous portions only go some way to compensating for these shortcomings.
Wines are good and worldly, with helpful, only slightly pretentious descriptions on the list. Fosters (bah), Guinness and Aspalls are on the pumps, as are Timothy Taylor and a couple of more interesting guest ales for the adventurous.