The Alice House, Queen’s Park

The Alice House

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to The Alice House in Queen's Park. Not so much the gastropub, after all, this is what I do, but the area.

All I knew about Queen's Park was the football club, and the fact it was close to Ladbroke Grove and Maida Vale without the former’s hipness and the latter’s poshness.

The Alice Park is more hip then posh. From the nod to British street art on the walls to the fisherman’s web of hundreds of bare bulbs hanging the ceiling and stretched out on industrial wires; the porcelain sinks filled with herbs and flowers that are sunk into the tables. Overlay the now de rigueur mismatched furniture, leather sofas and faux library, and you have a very good-looking pub, with equally good-looking punters and bar staff.

The produce is all British, seasonal and locally sourced, and the menu is classic gastropub fare. Steak, burgers, and lamb are recurring features, and it has a decent drinks list, too. One very clever and welcome point is that white and red wines are split into four price categories rather than being individually priced; the aim – to encourage wine fans to be led by variety rather than by their pocket. It’s an idea that is so good yet so simple, you have to wonder why you don't see it more often.

The cooking is simple, but in a very good way. The highlights were a delightful spring salad with slow roast tomatoes, green & broad beans, radish, croutons Ragstone goat's cheese and basil dressing, and the grilled flank steak with chips, horseradish cream, slow roasted tomato and watercress. However, the Northerner’s grilled fish of the day (mackerel, if memory serves me right) with parsley new potatoes, seasonal vegetables, caper and shallot brown butter was as good or possibly better than the steak. On a warm and sunny evening, we found a bottle of French Pinot Noir Rosé which was crisp and dry, as opposed to some of the sweeter aberrations that you can find.

Meanwhile, The Alice House was full to the brim with mid-week diners, drinkers and canoodlers, taking full advantage of having a great local on their doorstep. And that is, in essence, what it is, and one that serves wonderful food. Now Queen's Park has my favourite thing to think about in an area: a great pub.