Instantly, the George IV wins a prize for the most attractive exterior in K-Town, with its cascading foliage and corner plot, a real sun-trap in the summer months. And yet when – if ever – did you last have a pint there?
It was a question we pondered as we sat in its equally charming interior, naughty Monday lunchtime Kronenburg in hand, admiring the old signs, jumble of paintings, and wonky red lights. The pub dates from 1870, its name taken from a boozer that stood a century earlier on the opposite corner (what is now Spring Place).
There was a lively crowd drinking at the bar, so we grabbed a table in the corner to spend a moment perusing the red faux leather-bound menu. And dear god, it’s an extensive offering: classic sandwiches (from a bargainous £2), and “de-lux” versions with names like hit movies from the 1980s – Casino Special (roast beef, turkey, iceberg) or Florida Melt (tuna sweetcorn peppers). Then – deep breath – there are Danish open sandwiches, piled high with things like duck and orange pate, or the enigmatic Tuna Aztec Pyramid. Pies abound too, including a steak and kidney (£3.45). And finally, a full page of “platters if you’re hungry”, a daunting roll call of salads groaning with various cold meats, cheeses and slaw. Phew.
We opted for a simple farmhouse cheddar and pickle (£2.30) and shared a turkey and bacon New York Club sarnie with chips, coleslaw and salad (£4.30). And both were spot on: springy fresh white bread, a rich mature cheese and fruity chutney, nicely-cooked bacon the right side of crisp without gristle or fat, and a rich old slaw to thicken the arteries on a cold weekday morning.
The damage? Two lunches and two pints of lager clocked in at around £13, fantastic value, with friendly service. A downside is the drinks offering, sadly perfunctory in a Bulmers-Websters-Fosters kinda way.
But no matter. What we loved most was the pub’s oasis feel in this industrial corner of NW5, much appreciated after a morning spent fiendishly subbing our March print edition (due out next Thursday folks). And, furthermore, it’s proof that a traditional boozer can still survive in Kentish Town without changing what it does best.
Words & Pics: Stephen Emms