Open Mon–Sat 11am–midnight, Sun 11am–11pm
The style & the crowd:
This always was a big space to make work and there is plenty of competition pub wise around, not least the several that are on Portobello Road. Now that the pub has been resurrected after being closed for a couple of years, my guess is they they’ve given up trying to tempt the tourists into a detour and are concentrating on the neighbours. Rightly so – this handsome building is surrounded on both sides by a dense concentration of flats and houses. There was a gaggle of locals at the bar as I came in through the door, chatting to the bar staff that they knew by name. Pubs need to do food to survive of course, but it’s good that they haven’t forgotten the drinkers. Like most modern refits, there is mismatched furniture everywhere but also a lovely picture of said pelican above a handsome white stone fireplace. A sizeable work crowd were around a table in the big dining room out back and there were some hoorays and smoochers lounging around elsewhere. So pretty much every type you’d expect to see around these parts.
The Elegant Welsh rarebit (£6.25) was decent enough cheese on toast but lacked any tang of mustard or worcestershire sauce. Cheese soufflé (£6.95) was far better, light and luscious with a note perfect apple and walnut salad. Grilled sea bass fillets (£15.95) were pricey but excellent; crispy skinned and made to sing with a delicate beurre blanc. The Pelican shepherd’s pie (£10.50) on the other hand, is certainly worth the dosh. Nice to see some comfort food on the menu (pub grub should certainly be comforting) and evidently made with love, with proper crispy piped mash on top. The nine desserts available read like a greatest hits of puddings so it’s likely there’ll be something for everyone on there. We only had room for one and the crème brûlée (£6.25) had everything we needed it to have – a snap on top and a soft custard underneath.
Several beers on tap you would expect and one very nice surprise (hello Sam Adams!). Wines for all tastes and pockets too (between £16 and £50), including a lovely floral Viognier. I’m still getting used to white wine and that one certainly helped convince. People bang on about the tragedy of pubs shutting down but the truth is that some of them weren’t that good and deserved to go. The new Pelican (Pelican 2.0?) has heart and enthusiasm oozing from it, so should do well this time round.