North London's Cultural Guide

Kilburn’s foodie newcomer is Summers

It's the latest venture from the boys behind Camden's Colonel Fawcett pub. Plus four more NW6 hotspots

‘The diminutive and atmospheric dining room.’ Photo: PR
Regular readers will know that tucked-away Camden pub the Colonel Fawcett is one of our preferred locals. And the good news is that its owners have just taken on Irish boozer the Sir Colin Campbell on Kilburn High Road.

It’s well worth the short hop on the overground (tip: alight at Brondesbury, just a couple of minutes’ stroll up the road). While the downstairs has had a light nip and tuck – all stripped boards and mood lighting – the main difference is that the upstairs, once the previous landlady’s carpet-clad living quarters, has been restored as a diminutive and atmospheric dining room.

Operating with a separate name, Summers, it’s the eponymous project from ex-St John chef Ruaridh Summers, offering a seasonal take on Irish fare. The idea is to elevate humble ingredients through what he calls “considered cookery”.

Crubeens, refined and breadcrumbed. Photo: Stephen Emms
As the rain pours down, we sit by the big Georgian windows and order about half the menu, which lists ten or so sharing plates. Affable front of house Greg Tuvey – the bloke behind recent Kentish Town pop-ups like Smoking Buns at the Rose and Crown – reels off anecdotes about the local Irish community’s appetite for crubeens: so insatiable was it historically that one Kilburn butcher used to open up after the pubs shut to feed the merry drinkers.


Crubeens, you say? Why, they’re the snack made from boiled pigs’ trotters, here refined and breadcrumbed, then served with a whorl of creamy mustard. Tasty amuse bouche though they are, things really get going with whipped cod’s roe on toast, which oozes umami, and a superlative tumble of smoked haddock with young peas, its sauce so garlicky it seeps into every pore.

The meal takes a slightly surreal turn with the presentation of a whole baby quail on moreish sourdough sauce while, happily, the two highlights come last: a pair of rosy skin-on pigeon breasts laced over a distinctly sagey pearl barley risotto; and a modest plate of leeks, braised in cider, with toasted Irish soda bread croutons, dill and creamy yogurt, its seeming lightness giving way to depth and complexity.

Whole baby quail. Photo: Stephen Emms

Oh, and there’s top cheese too: you can’t leave without trying the gubbeen from West Cork, rich and yielding a satisfying nuttiness. Better still is that these plates average at about £7-8 each (although the pigeon, a larger dish, is £17).

There’s also a regular Saturday special of Irish stew to accompany the live Irish folk music the pub is rightly renowned for.

Considered, indeed.

Sir Colin Campbell (open daily) and Summers (Wed-Sun), 264-266 Kilburn High Rd NW6. More info here.

Four more on Kilburn High Road…

Classically elegant: Photo: PR

North London Tavern
This handy rendezvous spot is near both the Overground and the tube, a classically elegant gastropub with decent beers, high ceilings and glam dining room, serving modern British, that’ll be candlelit if you visit after dark.375 Kilburn High Rd NW6

Hip new addition is this traditional Napoli pizzeria, with classic toppings as well as more daring combos. You can also order your pizza in ‘cartwheel’ size, and there are artisan gelato from Gelupo, and cheeses from Campania.
300 Kilburn High Rd NW6

The Black Lion pub’s upscale dining room. Photo: PR

Kilburn Ironworks
The place for craft beers, this slim bar and posh fast food joint – think wagyu burgers and flat iron steaks – was packed with a young crowd on our midweek visit. There’s a pavement terrace too watch the street action. 332 Kilburn High Rd NW6

Black Lion
Beautiful period pub with capacious bar and restaurant only a second away from the Colin Campbell, and boasting a rather upscale dining menu. 274 Kilburn High Rd NW6

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

About Kentishtowner

The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.