67 Fleet Road, NW3 2QU
020 7722 2646
The Stag is the second culinary venture from the Peritt brothers – Andrew and Jonathan – who have already won the hearts of Kensal Green locals with laid-back gastropub, The Regent. The new project follows the same formula but with the added bonus of an impressive outdoor space – open all year round, thanks to cosy heaters and covered cabanas. On a breezy October day, we resisted the temptation to sit outside but the leafy garden will undoubtedly be a big hit with Hampstead’s youth and neighbouring hospital staff once the weather improves.
Inside, there’s no sign of the flock wallpaper or polished chrome that usually turns up after a refurb, but there is an imposing maple bar and a real fireplace which suggests the Perritt brothers want the place to be a proper pub. We quite liked it, so we settled in and had a drink – a glass of the cheapest white for my companion and a perfectly mixed Mojito with ultra fresh mint for me. There’s beer too, and a good selection of bourbons and whiskies, but we are ladies and it was far too early in the day for such things.
To start, we shared the chili prawns, which were served in their own little pan with plenty of fiery red chilies and decent bread to mop up the juices. Slightly fiddly to prise out of the shells, but well worth the effort.
Next, the mains arrived in all their hearty man-sized glory. Mine – the White Burger, one of the many meaty varieties on the menu – was a well-cooked beef patty slathered with garlic mayo and wedged into a toasted bun with plenty of salad. My companion praised the cottage pie that was served piping hot in its own Le Creuset dish and benefited from smooth creamy mash. Comfort food at it’s best; the meat in both was top quality, though perhaps a little under seasoned. The chips, however, deserve a special mention for being perfectly crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside.
We sat and breathed deeply for a while, determined to fit in one more course before waddling home. Our lovely waitress recommended the white chocolate bread and butter pudding with such enthusiasm it would have been rude not to order it. So I did, and managed to devour nearly all of the hot brioche-like pudding, topped with strawberries and oozing white chocolate and buttery goodness. A dessert designed with the heart-broken and the hungry in mind. There’s an extensive cheese selection too, with your favourites served in 70gm portions (at the correct temperature) with a vast array of crackers, grapes, and some kind of chutney.
It’s nice to be able to wax lyrical about a proper ‘pub with grub’, because they’re few and far between these days – often lost in the sea of fussy gastro-bars with daunting menus and designer furniture. The Stag just has a team of great staff serving up honest food at reasonable prices and that’s really all you need from your local. If you live within walking distance of this gem, you should think yourself very lucky indeed.