A few weeks ago, Cathy the Gastronomer was in London for a short stop before her big trip to France with her husband and mother and we arranged to meet at Maltby Street for St John’s vanilla custard filled doughnuts. We also arranged to meet the next day for lunch at The Mall Tavern – it was a Sunday and I convinced them that they needed a proper roast lunch! It would be a first visit to this pub for all of us.

We were seated in the bar area – every table available had been booked up. Our waitress was efficient but quite gruff while we were ordering. We refused to let this ruin our meal though and started cooing over the cute tea towel napkins at each place.

The slightly disturbingly named Cow Pie (£14.50) came out looking glorious. Crisp golden brown pastry topped an excellent beef and ale filling. And in the centre of that pie was a big marrow bone whose marrow had been scooped out, mixed with garlicky, herby breadcrumbs and then stuffed back in – it was fabulous.

Cow Pie

A Chicken Kyiv (£14.50) came out looking marvellously spherical and sat on top of a potato rosti and some slaw. And yes, as expected, a lot of delicious garlic butter came gooshing out when we cut into it – I’m such a sucker for a good chicken kiev.

Chicken Kyiv

The roast dinners were very good but to me, still not a patch on the two previous dishes. The Roast Beef (£15.00) was flavourful and was a generous serving (4-5 good slices) with lots of potatoes, carrots, cabbage and a good Yorkshire pudding.

Roast Beef

The Roast Pork Loin (£15.00) had come recommended by our waitress and the loin was indeed tender. It was very good and was perhaps even better than the beef that day. Both roast dinners came with the appropriate sauces (horseradish and apple for our two roasts) and plenty of gravy.

Roast Pork Loin

Our waitress very kindly packed up the leftovers for us and we set to sharing just one dessert between us (we couldn’t handle any more). It had to be the restaurant’s signature Arctic Rolls (£6.50) – slices of ice cream covered in a thin layer of sponge cake – and we could choose three flavours of the ones available. We chose the Mango Lassi, Original and Tart Lemonade Tart. Mango tasted very much of alphonso mangoes, the original was vanilla ice cream with raspberry jam, and tart lemonade tart was full of the flavour of delicious bitter peel.

Arctic Rolls

Not sure why but by the end of the meal, our waitress seemed to have warmed to us and we even got a bit of a smile. And phew, I’m glad that Cathy did enjoy the meal! Bookings are essential on a Sunday afternoon.

The Mall Tavern
71-73 Palace Gardens Terrace
Notting Hill Gate
London W8 4RU

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On our first weekend back from Barcelona, you would think that we’d go off in search of another cuisine other than Catalan or Spanish. But one Sunday morning, we wanted to go out for lunch at a place we hadn’t tried before (ok, that was my requirement), a place where we could relax over a nice meal, a place that wasn’t too far away from home. We planned on heading to Chiswick and I remembered The Duke of Sussex, a pub next door to Le Vacherin. Their menu was always dotted with Spanish dishes, triggering my interest every time I passed it. And now I’d have my chance to try it!

We arrived at the pub just past noon that Sunday and it was a good thing too as we didn’t have a booking (it got pretty packed soon after). Many tables were booked but there were enough free that we had a choice of sitting in the bright and airy bar in front or the restaurant in the back. We opted for the front and got a table right by the large windows. Ah, it was lovely that day with blue sky and bright sun! We liked the look of the pub; my brother liked the selection of ales available. I opted for my usual pub drink: Coca Cola (regular readers of this blog probably know that I’m not great with alcohol!).

It took us a while to select our dishes but once ordered, it took an even longer while for the food to arrive. I suppose we weren’t in a rush as it was a relaxing Sunday afternoon but my stomach was growling! It turned out they were preparing everything to come almost at once. We started with a few fried bits and pieces. The salt cod fritters (£5.50) were lovely and light though Blai found a large bone in one of them. Ham croquetas (£5.50) were huge, of the requisite creaminess, and weren’t bad at all.

Salt Cod Fritters

Ham Croquetas

The chorizo con huevos (£6.25) came looking very different from how I expected; this is not necessarily a bad thing. Here the eggs had been beaten and cooked together with slices of chorizo and chopped vegetables. However, this dish was a bit of a letdown as we could taste undercooked onion pieces in the vegetables.

Chorizo con Huevos

Somehow we settled on trying two of their rice dishes – they both did sound gorgeous! The Catalan rice w/ meatballs and prawns (£13.50) was a soupy rice dish that almost resembled a stew. Sloppy, soupy rice dishes like this exist in Catalunya but this one had the unfamiliar flavour of paprika. Unfortunately, it was also too soupy and required more rice but overall, it was a delicious dish with tasty meatballs and extremely fresh prawns. (But the kitchen really does need to look at its preparation – I nearly cracked a tooth on a nubbin of bone in my meatball.)

Catalan Rice w/ Meatballs and Prawns

The Roast cod, black rice, aioli (£13.50) was excellent and nothing could be faulted with it. The cod was flaked beautifully at the touch of a fork while the black rice left rings of squid ink around our mouths as we shovelled it in along with the creamy aioli.

Roast Cod, Black Rice, Aioli

There was still a little room for dessert and we chose the only sweet on the menu that wasn’t British: the crema catalana (£5.25). It was very good but could have been a little bit bigger!

Crema Catalana

There are definitely a few things that need to be ironed out in the kitchen but overall, it’s not a bad place for a meal or a drink and I’d probably return since I live close by; however, I doubt I’d cross town just to eat there – so it’s a good local instead (I hear they have a good garden for the summer) and a very pleasant place to while away the time if you happen to be in the area. There was a man noshing on a bowl of excellent looking chips with aioli at the bar and I’ve already decided I’ll be having that next time! If Spanish food isn’t your thing, there are a number of British dishes also available; the boys at a neighbouring table were tucking into lovely looking Sunday roasts.

The Duke of Sussex
75 South Parade
London W4 5LF

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