The Havelock Tavern – a Phoenix rising from the ashes
I moved into a tiny flat round the corner from the Havelock some 15 years ago. On the top floor of a tall Victorian terrace, I had great views over West London. And, an added bonus, a great new London gastropub on my doorstep. The Havelock was very newly opened and the whole concept of ‘gastropub’ was just beginning to grip the UK. I can remember sitting in there with a friend eating home made soup and a roll and watching the old regulars pop in, order a pint at the bar and leave looking slightly disturbed and rather disgruntled. The place became a firm favourite with me and my friends, despite the challenge of finding a seat.
Then the Havelock Burnt Down. Apparently a careless cigarette butt from a member of staff. But, it was quickly rebuilt and if I am honest, it looks EXACTLY the same as it did 15 years ago. Olympia or Brook Green (depending on how posh you are) has attracted more of the nappy valley brigade, probably because St Paul’s Girls School is just round the corner.
The Havelock when I first went there was, if anything, rather more ‘foodie’ than now. Although, I seldom went in for lunch, so I am not really comparing like with like.
Our lunch was nearly faultless for a good value pub meal. The bill was around £55 for the two of us for bread and olives, 2 courses each, a bottle of wine, coffee and a pint of beer. I think that is rather good value for a meal just across the road from Holland Park.
My Cod with Ratte Potatoes was fabulous. Tender flaky fish with a light salad and some gorgeously nutty potatoes was just what I wanted and I could even pretend it was healthy
My companion’s meal of chicken and chips was beautifully presented and the sneak taste I stole while he wasn’t looking was really excellent.
For dessert, I ordered the Lemon Tart. Now, I didn’t realise I was about to watch Heston explaining the nuances of the perfect Lemon Tart that evening. But, even before the Heston education into how to make the ultimate tart, the Lemon Tart was the least convincing dish of the day. The pastry was rather nutty and had a slightly odd aftertaste of burnt butter. And the filling was, I think, almost curdled – certainly not smooth on the tongue.
By comparison, my friend’s Chocolate Nemisis was perfection on a plate. But then it was pure chocolate, so that’s to be expected.
As a dining experience, we found the overwhelming Nursery effect just a little off putting. Perhaps we were unlucky, but in a restaurant with perhaps 40 covers there were at least 6 prams accompanied by their respective yummy mummies. But I suspect in the evening the place changes. And of course, it’s a little unfair of me to criticise the place for what clearly is an important contribution to the bottom line.
All in, I’d recommend the place and I’d like to try the evening menu which looks slightly more ambitious.
The Havelock Tavern
57 Masbro Road, London W14
020 7603 5374