Best Sunday Lunch? The Junction Tavern

Eight or nine years ago, Mrs Kentishtowner nearly bought a flat on Huddleston Road. One of those gothicky numbers up …

Eight or nine years ago, Mrs Kentishtowner nearly bought a flat on Huddleston Road. One of those gothicky numbers up the slope, with pretty French doors onto a terrace overlooking the street. Just as she was about to exchange she was cruelly gazumped so, leafy Tufnell Park dream over, the poor woman fled to the more urban surrounds of Kentish Town – and, of course, has never looked back.

But she always retained a soft spot for The Junction (lurking smack bang on the Tufnell/Kentish border). Even now, marooned in the wilds of Queens Crescent, the fifteen minute walk is approximately ten too many. And you lot blatantly agree. It had tons of votes in our Best of 2011 although it just missed out on a gong to heavyweights like the Bull & Last and Made in Camden.

But with so many local eating options these days we simply don’t get anywhere enough. Realizing it had been nearly a year since an impromptu summer lunch, and hearing that our first despatch of limited edition Kentishtowner postcards had all been snapped up within seconds, it was high time for a revisit to its elegant dining room.

‘You look like you’re doubles people,’ said manager Jonny, with a wicked grin, as we agreed that a large Bloody Mary would be rather appropriate for our earlyish arrival (just after midday, no less). ‘It’s made with horseradish grown in Kentish Town,’ he added. ‘So it’s sometimes fiery, and sometimes it blows your head off.’ Deliciously spicy, said our watering eyes.

We were surprised to learn that the Junction’s obsession with real ales predates the nearby Southampton – but apparently it does, and to prove it we tasted two: the quaffable Spring (from Twickenham), and the TEA, a more malty affair that had Mrs KT grimacing and reaching for the iced water.

Smoked fish: the perfect start to a sunday lunch? We devoured a colourful plate (main pic) of trout, mackerel, salmon with sweet peppers, earthy chard and more of that wasabi-like horseradish. Meanwhile, ham hock with cauliflower piccalilli was room temperature-perfect and packed with flavour.

Of the mains, Roast beef combined crunchy bitter cabbage and tender meat with an unctious gravy (made, said Jonny, from slow cooking veal bones on a Monday. ‘Customers plead for more of the stuff.’). It was delicious, but perhaps needed a big green side: kale? Buttery green beans? Both?

Seabass, bacon, cabbage, mustard and salsify was salty, creamy fishy heaven. ‘If there’s a choice between a roast and a non-roast,’ confided Mrs Kentishtowner, ‘I know what I’ll plump for anyday.’

Throughout Jonny generously wheeled out the wines to try: a Chenin War Horse (South Africa), Pergolino, Trebbiano, and a Samos Vin Doux to accompany desserts of sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce and a lighter, tangy lemon posset with grapefruit jelly.

And so we rolled out at two thirty, the sun breaking through the clouds, fat as pigs. We’re happy to report The Junctin more than deserves its status as elder statesman of the NW5 gastropubs. Oink.

This is box title

A slap-up 3 course sunday lunch with wine and service for two people is around £70. Mains are £12-£15. Kentishtowner Rating: 8/10
The Junction, 101 Fortess Road, NW5

Words & Pics: Stephen Emms


  • Show Comments

  • Tony Mac

    There needs to be a lot more love for The Junction – it is ALWAYS quality when I go there.
    I, as you admit too, am a bit lazy though as I live about 30 seconds away….

  • James Elm

    Now is the time to mention seeing a pre-fame The White Stripes 10 or so years ago in the back room of the then rough-house Junction Tavern. Wonder if Jack popped back in there after his recent Forum gig to tel them where to stick their locally grown horseradish.

    Had many excellent meals there since then and the management and staff are ace, but the last couple of roasts I’ve had there have been poor and it’s been overtaken for food by The Vine or, if you have the legs or the 214 to get up there, The Bull in Highgate.

  • Jon Simmons

    Thinking of taking my parents here for Sunday lunch in a few weeks when they come to visit. Any idea if they have wheelchair access?

    • Steve Stuart

      Yes, they have a ramp for wheelchair access

  • Kentishtowner

    Sometimes it’s too easy to ignore places that have been around forever.

    Jon – I would say wheelchairs would be fine but they’ll be reading this so I’m sure someone will get back to you.

  • Steve Stuart

    The Junction Tavern’s been my favourite for years & is (I think derr) consistently better than other pubs locally. Definitely worth the walk to, and the meander back afterwards.

    Also the ‘Bull / Vine is better’… I don’t agree… Junction for me every time…

    My favourite is the Ribeye steak. It just melts… I think the £70 in the article must be Sunday lunch for 2. I eat out quite a bit and notice that many places charge extras for veg etc. This is all included at the Junction, so great value and great food.

  • Emily Shiels

    As someone who spreads her love liberally (sometimes wayyyyy toooo liberally) amongst the gastro watering holes of KT, I reckon the Junction trumps the lot. I like the Oxford for the bar buzz, I like the Bull & Last for after the heath walk on Saturdays, I even quite like the re-vamped Lion & Unicorn (maybe cos it’s closest to my flat) BUT for food & stunning service, it’s the Junction every time. Love the Kentishtowner, too!! Makes me feel pleased to live here!!

  • Junction Tavern

    Thanks for the enquiry about wheelchair access. We have a ramp for the one step up to the front entrance. Bar & dining room are all on one level. Sorry no wheelchair access to toilets (very old building!). Just mention you need a wheelchair-friendly table when you book as our dining room is very small.

  • Adam

    We live less than 5 minutes away so the temptation to go there and not venture further afield is great but in the many many times we have been there, I can honestly say we have never had a bad experience. The staff are all very friendly and they know our names and make us feel extremely welcome. Even when fully booked they always manage to find a space for us. The food is generally excellent and all the friends we have taken always tell us how lucky we are to have such a superb local. For us its better than the Bull and Last (vastly over priced and not as friendly) and to compare it to The Vine is frankly ridiculous, it is in a different league. Keep up the good work guys

    • Kentishtowner

      Have you been to the Vine in the last year? Food is much improved – it’s very good now.

  • Adam

    My problem with The Vine is that it seems so contrived now (is that fair?)….I actually preferred it pre-update and had many a fun and booze fuelled Sunday in the garden out back.

    So to be fair, whilst we have been there recently, we have not eaten anything more than bar nibbles. I am open to being proved wrong, especially when it comes to pubs at the end of my road…..we will retry The Vine and report back!