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57 Masbro Road
With its shimmering blue-tiled frontage and brickwork that matches the surrounding housing, The Havelock Tavern recalls the golden age of British pubs. Times have changed, but the good folk here in Masbro Road have the best of both worlds – a proper pub and somewhere to eat first-rate grub with a modern rustic spin. The interior is opened up and suitably bare (with rough wooden tables and mismatched chairs); the bar is stocked with beers from the likes of Battersea’s Sambrook’s Brewery and Truman’s of east London. Everything, from the bread to the ice cream, is made in-house and the menu crosses international borders with impunity: mussels infused with South-East Asian flavours, Greek lamb rump, and roasted fillet of cod dished up with a white bean and smoked bacon casserole. Then it’s back home for treacle tart with double cream. Outside, the patio garden is a fair-weather friend: another asset of this gem of a pub.
To celebrate the Year of the Woman, SquareMeal is running a series of interview profiles with top female chefs. Read here about Marianne Lumb’s colourful career as a private chef and the benefits of operating one of London’s smallest kitchens.
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57 Masbro Road
020 7603 5374
Kensington Olympia Tube Station 447m
Kensington Olympia Station 501m
Vue Cinema Shepherds Bush 511m
Mon-Sat 11am-11pm Sun 12N-10.30pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 5
Its hard to find a good pub in London, but the Havelock is one of the best. Living just around the corner, my friends and I are regulars. It serves delicious food and a has a decent wine list, and is filled with friendly locals and their dogs! Its very popular though, so I would advise getting there early if you want to get a table on the weekend.
Food + drink: 4
It wasn’t so long ago that the spot where The Havelock Tavern stands was merely a shell of burnt construction and rubble after a freak fire accident was caused by a member of staff (seemingly a previous member of staff now?).
The co-owner and head chef Jonny Haughton, revealed the source of the blaze as a fag butt thrown by a member of staff into a dustbin, shortly before he and his business partner were about to finalise the pub’s sale for some two million quid. You’d hunt down that fag-tossing tosspot and hang him/her, wouldn’t you? This was in 2005 and the gastro-pub has now been rebuilt to its former glory, and it’s business as usual for the Brook Green tavern.
Friends who frequent the Havelock tell me that the food is superb and the bar always busy. I arrived for lunch to find the odd scatter of wealthy retired folk mashing their food, and gossiping yummy-mummys with their husbands (you’d hope), that Brook Green archetype that spill over from the Fulham fringes; all floppy-hair and jumpers looped around their shoulders.
The menu changes daily – which is usually a good thing – and exercises seasonal ingredients – a good thing. This stops the kitchen becoming stale and would explain why locals enjoy coming back here to dine so often, while the mummys and housewives can finger through their salads while sipping G&T’s (or is it ciders these days?) and moan like South-West London Sex in the City girls.
Fresh bread is displayed on the bar and the warm, doughy waft consumes the room. Starters on my visit included some rather fancypant offerings from a pub: caldo verdi: chorizo, potato and curly kale soup, chargrilled mackerel fillet with chickpea, white wine, tomato and leak stew and some deep fried white bait with smoked paprika aioli and lemon. I however, was on one of those express lunches so charged forward to the mains with duck leg confit with celeriac puree, roast parsnips, sprouting broccoli and gravy (£12.50).
The duck was soft and juicy with a crispy skin (just how it should be). It was a considerable size too, placed centrally on to the celeriac puree, a little too runny and sharp, and with beautifully roasted parsnips and crunchy broccoli (perfect, as broccoli can sometimes be too watery and drab). The gravy was rich and complimented the duck well and for pub grub this was top draw stuff.
I had a quick skim of the wine list and all appears to be in order, but with a weekend trip to Germany approaching I instead opted for a cold pint of Erdinger Weissbräu, a beer I can’t remember tasting before, so it was always going to be a risk, but a happy chance and a fine beer. Malted wheat with a cloudy colouring (5.3%).
Steamed ginger pudding with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream (£5) had the pleasure of my company for dessert. I’ve tackled thousands of ginger and toffee puddings, but what set this particular one apart from the flock was the chewy surprise of steamed ginger pieces within the sponge. Each piece presenting that hint of spice, soon cooled off by the vanilla ice cream and sugary, yet mellowing, sweet, toffee sauce.
Ending with a hit of espresso before departing, I can only report wonderful things from the Havelock lunch. I’m impressed with an ever-changing menu full of delights, if I could have somehow squeezed in the slow cooked belly of pork and Lofty’s chocolate cake with crème fraîche then I would have. I’m full of superlatives for the chef and let’s just hope a new smoking area is fenced off thirty-seven miles down the road.
Food + drink: 1
I've been coming to the Havelock for over 5 years. I am there at least once a week and generally 2 or 3 times meeting friends. I have recommended the Havelock to probably 100 people over the years.
I am never, ever going back there.
The staff are rude, the (so called) manager refused to re cook food that we watched sit on the bar for 16 minutes before coming to our table stone cold. He said it would be just as nice like that!!!
The fish dish we ordered was raw and when we told the waitress that we didn't order the pasta that arrived, she looked at us with disgust then walked off.
I had bought 5 other friends with me, when we asked to pay seperately on 3 different cards I was told that they didn't want to that. Could we not pay on one card then sort it out between us later. I have never been spoken to so poorly in my life.
So that's it – I've probably spent well over £2000 in there over the years but apparently none of that counts. Apparently being a regular who recommends people and eats and drinks and is always polite counts for nothing too.
I'm off to the Bird in Hand and will never, ever set foot in the Havelock ever again.
Oh…and I'll be taking the 2 dozen close friends in the area with me.
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