Open Mon–Sat 11am–11pm; Sun 11am–10.30pm
Previously a gloomy no-frills Frog and Firkin (although it also has a rock ‘n’ roll history – The Clash used to play here), this is another pub that has recently been taken over by Geronimo Inns. Fortunately the sensitive refurb enhances the pub’s ornate Victorian glasswork and turned mahogany. There are three areas to the ground floor. The central pub celebrates its Victorian gin palace heritage. Here you’ll find large, spacious tables; beaten-up sofas; red Anglepoise lamps hanging over the bar; jars of pickled onions and gherkins on it. The carpeted restaurant area next to the bar, with its gilded mirrors, velvet-and-leather banquettes and floral-print chairs, is softly-lit. The back room boasts a palette of cream with pretty lighting, flock wallpaper and printed screens. Artwork varies from black and white scenes of the area, celebrity photos (hung in the toilets), to our favourite; an oil painting of the Last Supper featuring Jimi Hendrix, Elvis and Mick Jagger.
An eclectic mix of trendy Notting Hillbillies and the edgier Ladbroke Grovers, including a pint-drinking 40-something who didn’t seem to notice/mind that he was in the dining area without intending to eat (he was politely asked to move).
There is plenty on offer, from bar snacks to a well-priced retro menu and there was even a cheese tasting session on our Monday evening visit. From the traditional pub menu with a twist, we had crayfish and cucumber salad (£7.50) and salad of rosary ash goats’ cheese, French beans, croutons and cherry tomatoes (£7.95) to start. Both portions were large; salads were crispy and super-fresh; the cheese was creamy and mild, but the crayfish had a little too much dressing. We followed with a salad of baby beets, pumpkin and figs with Aspalls cider dressing (£9.95), which was satisfying, if a little salty; and a perfectly cooked char-grilled 8oz rib-eye steak with béarnaise (my friend greedily asked for a second helping) and crispy thick-cut chips. Service was charming throughout.
The gin palace boasts 22 varieties of gin, including London-based Beefeater, Beefeater 24 and SipSmith. Beers include Bitburger and Budvar, while ales include Sambrook from Wandle and Summer Gold from Twickenham. The wine list is divided by style groupings. We tried a gold medallist; Groote Post Sauvignon 2008 (£4.70 for 175ml).