114 Campden Hill Road, London W8 7AR www.thewindsorcastle.co.uk

Unlike many other areas of London, the streets of Kensington have barely changed over the years, still retaining that hanging basket villagey, country in the city air with the same uncontroversial mix of antique shops and posh estate agents.  This is where I rented a flat in my early twenties, so the pretty Victorian  pubs are familiar and it is reassuring to note that very few have been  taken over or turned into cocktail bars and ‘eateries’ 

So hearing that one of my favourites – the lovely Grade 1 listed pub The Windsor Castle has recently been refurbished, I was keen to see how it was looking. I needn’t have worried. Walking into the pub on Campden Hill Road was like greeting an old friend. Or rather dozens of them – like any pub with a garden in the present climate, the place was heaving in the early evening sunshine.  Jugs of Pimms, pints of beer and glasses of rose wafted by as office ties were removed and top buttons were undone

Dating back to 1835, the Windsor Castle has been a destination pub for a long time. Located in a quiet residential area, you wouldn’t stumble upon it unless you were in the know but it is one of Kensington’s secret treasures.  It is very much a pub for all seasons, with its pretty walled garden for summer barbeques and a roaring log fire and nooks and crannies for winter rendezvous.  The garden has now been spruced up with soft planting, fairy lights and more seats, as well as gas heaters and blankets for when the colder nights draw in

Inside, the pub is relatively unchanged with old prints and comfy seats.

There is a new kitchen and,  to go in it, a new French chef  whose menu  goes a step beyond normal pub dining and includes lamb sweetbreads, pork belly confit as well as more traditional homemade Scotch eggs and  ribeye steaks

We started with a colourful prawn and avocado salad and an unusual celeriac coleslaw with crab. then

I opted for the hake with bacon and mint which was hearty and wholesome  My husband, (also a Windsor Castle regular of old) chose a rabbit and crayfish pie with creamy mash as we reminisced about our misspent youth and the pubs of Kensington where once we would have encountered the likes of laconic comedian Dave Allen, John Le Mesurier and Frankie Howard

True to its background as a champion of fine ales, The Windsor Castle has a splendid selection of beers and each dish on the menu is matched with one of their 18 specialty beers and real ales. We are told that there are food and beer matching evenings planned, hosted by Beer Sommelier Jamie Percival

The night we visited our fellow diners range from a Scottish family group, a table of middle aged ladies and a young French courting couple. Outside the jolly mix of local residents and tie-less young professionals looked set to party on for a few hours more. As I would have done myself, not too long ago