Sun, a somewhat rare event this summer, shone on West Hampstead and residents and tourists alike were out and about enjoying themselves.
‘Would you like to sit outside on the decking?’ asked Lisa, ‘it’s great for people watching.’ But instead we opted for a table just inside the Alice House. The big sliding windows had been pushed back so we still had a great view of West End Lane activities, but could also watch the activities going on at the bar and in the pub, plus it was quieter and we wanted to chat.
Inside, the island bar, illuminated by a cleverly strung naked lightbulbs, is bedecked with an enticing arrangement of bottles. The walls are brick and the big and heavy tables made from well-scrubbed wood – accentuate the character of the old building. It feels nice and welcoming.
Pub grub goes gastro
The lunchtime summer menu was interesting. Small, which we like, but with some interesting dishes such as – Orchard Farm pork chop with bubble and squeak and spiced apple, a ham hock with spring beans and a mustard dressing, potato dumplings with asparagus, peas, and Rosary goats cheese.
However, we both went fishy – grilled cuttlefish on a land cress salad with a sweet and sour rhubarb dressing for one, monkfish fingers minted peas, tartare and fries for the other.
Alice House is where pub food turns gastro. A further example - the puds feature comforting apple fritters, cinnamon and salted caramel sauce or Yorkshire rhubarb, set custard, almond crumb.
We were a tad surprised that bread, with some nice olive oil, did not appear automatically with the cutlery (presented incidentally in a big old teapot), as so many other gastro pubs offer.
However full marks for the jug of water, garnished with strips of cucumber which appeared without our having to ask.
Prices start for lighter meals at £6 rising to £14.50. Extra veg and fries £4. Puds from £6. Wines from £4.50 a glass, bottles from £19. Plus a range of draught and bottled beers, gins and cocktails plus an interesting selection of teas.
A lovely welcome on arrival from Lisa and great service from her colleague; we hated leaving. 8.5 out of 10. Incidentally there is also a sister establishment in Queens Park.