First past the post…The Bull & Last


So we intended to do a review of the newly-opened Lion & Unicorn today, but, to be honest, we’re not …



So we intended to do a review of the newly-opened Lion & Unicorn today, but, to be honest, we’re not sure, and haven’t sampled the food or theatre yet, so rather than dismiss it we’ll let it bed in a bit.

It’s not that we don’t like the joint: the walled garden, the rather self-consciously eclectic dining room, the lights – these are all quite pleasant. But there’s something overwhelmingly suburban in the decor, and this is amplified by the staff’s gaudy orange and purple uniforms. “Let’s face it, no beautiful old pub deserves a curtain rail like that,” sniffed Mrs Kentishtowner, as she wriggled to get comfortable on one of the high stools. “Or that wallpaper. It’s all a bit B&Q, isn’t it?”

So after just one drink we scarpered and headed, instead, to NW5’s hottest spot for dinner.

The Bull & Last: where have you been all our lives? Now here’s a food pub in tune with its audience. Packed to the rafters with an urbane, lively crowd, we sat by candlelight and tucked into starters of new season asparagus, Serrano ham and a meltingly soft hen’s egg (£7.50) and a very flavoursome pig’s head terrine (£7.50) respectively.

Mrs KT then opted for pitch-perfect fish and chips (£12) whilst the veal with cauliflower, wild garlic and crushed potatoes (£16) was as joyful as skipping through a field of bluebells. What’s more, we guzzled an assortment of pink and red wine by the carafe (around a tenner+ per half bottle), a cheese platter and two unsurpassable expresso martinis (£6.50 a pop), almost physically unable to drag ourselves away.

“It’s the kind of place where people tell stories, not discuss house prices,” was Mrs Kentishtowner’s verdict, as we stepped, a little heavier, into the still-warm night.

The Lion & Unicorn, 42-44 Gaisford St NW5
The Bull & Last 168 Highgate Road NW5.


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  • knocker

    “It’s the kind of place where people tell stories, not discuss house prices,”
    A bit like what used to go on in the Lion & Unicorn…

  • Ella Jones (@ellajonesmusic)

    The Lion and Unicorn is just behind my house, and after years of avoiding it’s frankly depressing vibe, I was well happy that it got made over. I know there was a lot of uproar from the regulars

    http://www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2011/feb/locals-crying-their-beer-regulars%E2%80%99-fury-lion-and-unicorn-becomes-gastropub
    (hilarious article, note that Paddy, pictured, is in there pretty much every night now!)

    However, I bloody love it. They have poached the old chef from the Oxford(the good one), and serve a wide range of food, and you can get a decent meal for a tenner(the burger is the dog’s).
    The quiz on a monday is really fun and it’s so nice to have a local where they make a real effort, they remember you, one of the managers even shared a free shot with me and my boyfriend in there last night!

    The gardens are lovely but I am really looking forward to the winter as they have a big fireplace and it has a really cosy vibe.
    Top marks all round!!

  • Eleanor

    er, this is an old post but I ate at the Lion and Unicorn on Sunday and was soooooo disapointed as a vegetarian. The vegetarian option for sunday roast was, as the waitress described “roast vegetables in a tomatoey sauce with a yorkshire pudding”. Hmmmm, a complete cop-out if you ask me so I opted for the only vegetarian main course on the menu- whole baked camembert with toast, a tiny bit of salad and some very black, old looking new potatoes. All in separate little dishes so felt more like a selection of side dishes than a main meal. Considering the Abbey always offer an excellent vegetarian roast with the works, and the Oxford regularly change their veg options (and I’m always excited to try the newest one) I won’t be hurrying back to Lion and Unicorn. Poor effort for the veggies!