You can’t beat pub grub. Although there was a time, let’s call it the 90’s, when London’s pub food left a lot to be desired.
Cue The Eagle in Farringdon and thousands of imitators later, and the local gastropub has become our equivalent of the French Brasserie, with good examples plating up across the capital.
One I hadn’t been to is the Devonshire Arms, which is tucked away on Marloes Road, a stone’s throw from the boutique-lined streets of South Kensington – a suburb which was briefly hip around the time of the launch of Britpop. More a local's than a tourist's pub, the Devonshire Arms has had a fresh lick of paint, which apparently is in keeping with its tasteful clientele. With blood leather, crystal chandeliers, reclaimed furniture and pre-1900 prints of the area, it ticks all of the boxes in any ‘what makes a good gastropub’ survey. It also has quite a fabulous garden bar, which was rammed on a not-particularly-warm Spring evening.
The menu is unpretentious, and a tad predictable, with burgers, fish and chips, and bangers and mash being some of the usual gastro-suspects. Execution is everything, though, and we started with salt and pepper squid – a favourite of the Northerner’s – and the interesting sounding toasted cous cous, fried halloumi, avocado and bean salad. The cous cous and halloumi salad was delicious – a wonderful mix of flavours and textures. The squid would have been okay if we had ordered calamari, but it was a long way from the Asian style ‘salt and pepper’ that we were expecting. For mains, the Northerner’s fish and chips was generous and decent without being spectacular. My eight ounce rib-eye steak and large chips were good, although the béarnaise sauce was perilously close to being tarragon custard. The desserts were superb – with both of us struggling to pick a winner out of the salted caramel and chocolate tart with clotted cream or sticky toffee pudding with vanilla pod ice cream.
The other diners were a mix of wandering tourists and affluent locals. The waiting staff, all attractive and European, did commendably well coping with what was a very busy service night.
The Devonshire Arms will never be a dining destination, but it does do what it says on the box; it is a good local serving decent pub grub. And judging by the number of punters it attracts, it’s a strategy that’s working very well.
The Devonshire Arms
37 Marloes Road
London W8 6LA
020 7937 0710