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91 Lordship Lane
“The food on Lordship Lane is getting better and better, but The Palmerston remains head and shoulders above the rest”, notes a fan of this popular gastropub. Although a handful of tables near the bar are given over to drinking, the main business is dining, with some “fabulous, inventive and wholesome” food on offer. The kitchen takes sourcing seriously, and there’s a healthy respect for seasonal ingredients – be it nettle, leek and potato soup, walnut-crumbed goats’ cheese with caramelised pear or sautéed Colchester scallops with pea, pancetta and mint oil. Aged Galloway beef and Tamworth pork also have their say, along with some “excellent” seasonal game. The “very extensive” wine list includes plenty by the glass and carafe, plus a handful of bargain bin ends. Lovers of Victoriana will appreciate the fine tiled floor in the back room, and the dark wood panelling throughout this handsome corner boozer.
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91 Lordship Lane
East Dulwich Station 804m
North Dulwich Station 880m
Aquarius Golf Club 1km
Premier Cinema 1km
Mon-Sun 12N-11pm (Fri-Sat -12M Sun -10.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
The food on Lordship Lane is getting better and better. The Palmerston remains head and shoulders above the rest. The menu is inventive and ambitious, with interesting seasonal options, especially game. The wine list is very extensive, with good wines at all price levels. The atmosphere is busy and fun. I went to Rules a few days after my visit to the Palmerston and the game special there was not nearly as good.
We chose the Palmerston for a cosy dinner a deux, a rare event these days with two young children. We had been to the restaurant before and had happy memories, so expectations were fairly high. The table reserved for us wasn't great, but then I did book it that morning, so can't complain. And so we settled down to an evening of chat without being interrupted by the children every 30 seconds. The place was full. We played a game of deciding things about our neighbouring diners. Probably best not to go into too much detail. My starter was fabulous – scallop cerviche, which I hadn't had before. All was well until we had finished the starters and, having waited happily for about 15 minutes, I started to wonder if they had forgotten about us. It's had to say how long we waited, but it seemed like time enough to catch the fish my husband had ordered. The food was fine when it did show up, but the Palmerston does seem to have become a bit greedy with its table to waiter allocation. A couple fewer tables and the service might have been excellent. As it was, it rather spoilt a nice meal. It was Saturday night but is that any excuse? If a place can't serve all the tables it has, there seems a fairly obvious solution.
The Palmerston is definitely more gastro than pub – where else would you find a small but orderly queue at the bar, other than Dulwich? It’s a relaxed spot for dinner by candlelight that combines cosiness with smart silverware; ask nicely and you may nab a spot by the fireplace. There’s a scramble for tables on Friday nights and long lunches at weekends, so we were glad to have rung ahead for a reservation.
Oddities on the wine list are cracking value. Lesser known wines (like rustic Maison de la Paix Old Vine) are available by the carafe, they’re wicked value and they proved to be spot on for the modern European menu. The waiters were friendly and made a mad dash to serve our last-minute wine orders with each course, proving the service is great when it’s on the ball. (Admittedly, there were a few more ‘wistful’ encounters when we were baffled as to how our waving hands were going unnoticed, but it was all in good spirit).
Anyone shunning carbs would have struggled with temptation when water and bread arrived; the toothsome sourdough and walnut bread were both gratefully gobbled down. Oyster Rockefeller to start was too aniseed for us, simply because it was a bit heavy on the pernod or candied fennel. But the cassoulet special was gorgeous; not quite as artery-bashing as the real thing, but no sorrier for this. Each deep, generous spoonful presented a treat: be it confited pork and duck, or the Toulouse sausage lurking among the plump, fatty beans. It was outrageously rich but so satisfying given the snow outside; like padding ourselves with goose down from within.
This was the night I learned that ox cheek is a gargantuan hunk of meat. Rendered to a state of gelatinous loveliness, it was brilliantly cooked… but oh so very big. I was sorry to leave much of the coarse polenta side too, but the floorboards were starting to creak beneath me with menace. A shocking pink beetroot puree against venison fillet and game crisps was really, really good. Imagine all the best bits from the forest floor gathering together for a tete a tete, then shaking hands and going into business: this classic combo has (and will) run and run, but only if cooked with such a deft hand.
There was no need for dessert, but a rhubarb tart wriggled its way in regardless. Firm and pleasing like a New York cheesecake, it was a proper pud that stood proud on its biscuity-base foundations. A glass of port later and we were collectively done in, so slumped back home for a snooze. (And how soundly we slept; dreaming of leaving our day jobs to set up a gite, learning to – some day – cook like this, and living out our final days riddled with gout).
It’s hard not to relax amid the low glow and gentle bustle of the Palmerston; it’s no old boozer, but we found it a mellow, welcoming and intimate antidote to a festive season of screechy Friday nights elsewhere. The menu changes all the time, so we’ll be back soon.
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