With the opening of The Grafton and Camden Town Brewery, Tapping The Admiral forms the third tip of a now-lively West Kentish boozer triangle. We hadn’t been down in a while, what with the rash of new openings in NW5, so, invited by manager Roxy, we took our laptops for a lazy working lunch. And we’d forgotten just how cosy it is, the fire roaring, wonky lamps throwing shadows on its burgundy walls.
They’ve been through a couple of chefs since our last visit, the Thai menu long been abandoned in favour of budget British: think fish and chips, home-made burgers, salads, sandwiches. The £5 lunch is especially good value. Because we’re greedy pigs, to start co-editor Tom and I shared a plate of smoked mackerel and poached egg with lettuce, slow roasted tomatoes and home-made red onion chutney to. This could easily be a light, healthy meal for one but it was hoovered up in no time at all as a tasty amuse-bouche. A minor complaint? The salad was a little too wet, but the other flavours more than delivered.
From the short list of £5 lunchtime mini pies we shared two. The first, a goat’s cheese with slow tomato, onion and basil, was pleasant enough, if a little slight. But the second, belly of pork and scrumpy with parmesan, leek & sage, was a real winner, its deeply moreish combo creamily savoury, punching higher than its tiny size. The pies are attractive to look at too, un-intimidatingly small and perched on a small hilltop of mash, engulfed by a moat of gravy.
The midweek lunchtime crowd was as mixed as ever, always part of the Admiral experience. Lots of solo drinkers, a few business types gabbing away, and plenty of newspapers rustling behind a pint of brown stuff. We always go for the Mealtime lager, but ales change on almost a daily basis and you will, according to Roxy, almost always find Darkstar Hophead, Adnams Southwald, Redemption Pale Ale.
Whilst other pubs in the area have quickly become ‘destination’, the Admiral’s charm is its exquisite localness; it almost feels like a pub somewhere outside London, perfectly suited to its whimsical strapline: ‘just between the coasts of Camden and Kentish Town’. But it complements the more raucous charms of the Brewery bar and the Grafton nicely, it should continue to be valued by Kentishtowners everywhere. Especially in winter. And at those prices.