2 Northcote Road, Battersea, London, www.thenorthcote.co.uk
Just a few minutes’ walk from Clapham Junction, the Northcote pub stands like a grand Victorian behemoth at the crossroads inviting you in.
And so you should: the recent refurb has turned the large bar into a cosy space, with the removal of the old bookshelves (weirdly in the middle of the room), opening up the space really well.
Grey paint, wood panelling, warm industrial-style lighting and gorgeous velvet seating in jewel colours create a stylish setting with a nod to the pub’s Victorian heritage. And, joy of joy, there was no intrusive playlist making conversation a challenge.
The food’s not bad either. Like many pubs, it features modish sharing platters of charcuterie, cheese and steak, as well as a brunch and light bites menu.
This was the inspiration for our shared starter of lamb chips, roasted chilli yogurt and pickled cucumber, £8.50, wonderful crunchy, panko-breadcrumb coated croquettes with a filling of shredded meltingly soft lamb.
Alongside the mains (those pub perennials of burger and beer-batter fish and chips among them) was an intriguing-sounding ham hock, braised leek and mushroom pie.
But after a bit of dozy indecision, I went for charred Welsh lamb chops with creamed fennel, pickled girolle mushrooms. By the way, the portions are very generous here: three large, juicy lamb chops with creamy fennel and girolles mushrooms, £17.
While not a vegan delight, it would certainly please a low-carb diner, as no extras were needed. My dining companion was full of praise for her very verdant bulgar wheat, charred broccoli salad, butternut squash and toasted walnuts & pomegranate, £13, which was warm (would be good to say this on the menu), ideal for a crisp autumn day.
In the interests of research, we squeezed in puds from the short dessert menu. The unusual-sounding apple, pineapple & hazelnut crumble with crÃƒÂ¨me fraÃƒÂ®che ice cream was quite bland Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a little spice or more textured topping would have helped.
My companion’s warm chocolate & salted caramel pudding, vanilla seed ice cream was a better choice, each £6.
Although three courses are ideal if you’re hungry, our hot tip would be to share a selection of light bites and a sharing platter, skipping dessert.
Upcoming Christmas menus and sharing boards are well worth checking out too, including the wonderful, rib-sticking English rose turkey, Brussel tops and cranberry slaw on sourdough toast, pigs in blankets, stuffing, goose fat roasties, gravy, horseradish cream, £17.
It was also good to see producers named Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Kirkenel Farm, Nutbourne Nursey and Chalke Valley among them, as Young’s Brewery is making efforts to support British farmers.
Not surprisingly, there’s a great choice of beers on tap, many of them local craft beers, and the wine list is great: our Featherdrop Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand had enough mineral crispness and notes of green pepper, gooseberry and passion fruit to cut through the richness of the food.
All in all, a reliable choice when you’ve finished your Christmas shopping at the Junction or simply want a relaxing lunch with a friend.