Best restaurants in Primrose Hill

Updated on 17 November 2016

Lemonia

Lemonia

89 Regent's Park Road, London, NW1 8UY

Occupying its corner spot for more than 30 years, Lemonia must surely qualify for the ‘institution’ moniker by now. The place is run by Greek-Cypriots who do their best to offer a slice of Mediterranean sunshine, even when the weather isn’t playing ball. Cosy booths and hanging baskets help recreate the taverna feel inside, and when the sky is blue the terrace garden with its plentiful foliage comes into its own. The food consists of unreconstructed Hellenic staples – what you might hope for, really, and probably what most people would expect: tarama, hummus, grilled halloumi and suchlike to get going, but there’s octopus salad, too. Main courses have the same familiar ring: it’s like being on holiday on your favourite Greek island. Moussaka, stifado, grilled fish and hearty charcoal-flamed meats rarely disappoint, and Greek bottles star on the wine list. Want a set meal? The meze awaits.

£30 - £49
Greek
£50 - £79
Odette

Odette's

130 Regent's Park Road, London, NW1 8XL

Odette’s has been a fixture in Primrose Hill since the year north London boy Rod Stewart reached number one with ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ That was 1978. Run since 2008 by Welsh chef-patron Bryn Williams, the place remains a shining northern star. It’s a place of balance. From coherent, smart decor to cooking that is satisfyingly modern, the enterprise is far, far more than a humble neighbourhood restaurant. Carte and tasting menus show what Bryn is all about – intelligent combinations, judicious sourcing (plenty of Welsh ingredients) and full-on flavours. Glazed pork cheek comes with apple and lobster bisque in a dynamite little surf & turf combo, with main-course loin of venison in the company of cavolo nero, celeriac and pear. There’s impressive technical skill on show, right up to dessert of lemon curd Arctic roll. The pretty little garden out back and fashionable kitchen table add to Odette’s broad appeal.
£30 - £49
Modern European
The Engineer

The Engineer

65 Gloucester Avenue, London, NW1 8JH

One of London’s original gastropubs is still among its most popular, with a lovely location on a quiet Primrose Hill corner. You’ll find a skinny-jeaned band of drinkers propping up the bar, sipping pints of Sharp’s Doom Bar or Woodforde’s Norfolk Hawker while wallowing in The Engineer’s renowned chilled-out charms. The menu now mixes pub stalwarts such as Welsh rarebit, cod and chips or sausage and mash with more innovative, fanciful ideas along the lines of seared scallops with salsify, pumpkin purée and crispy Black Combe bacon or roast pork belly stuffed with black pudding, while desserts could feature a ‘mess’ of pink rhubarb, clotted cream and custard. Come Sunday, we recommend the 21-day aged sirloin of beef with a tumbler of spicy Bloody Mary. The garden is a lovely bucolic spot, with lots of tables for alfresco dining – “get there early on a summer’s day”, advise one fan.

£30 - £49
Gastropub
£50 - £79
Michael Nadra Primrose Hill

Michael Nadra Primrose Hill

42 Gloucester Avenue, Primrose Hill, London, NW1 8JD

Chef Michael Nadra proved his worth in Chiswick before branching out with this more ambitious Primrose Hill restaurant. Chic urban design sets the tone for his signature eclectic style and fans won’t be disappointed by a menu that showcases creative flavour combinations. Stand-outs on a recent visit included delicate prawn, scallop and chive dumplings in a vibrant green pool of broccoli and spinach velouté and perfectly roasted cod in an intense bisque with ‘sea spaghetti’ and plump Shetland mussels – although the culinary flair shines through right up to classic desserts such as melting chocolate fondant with rich salted caramel. Affordable fixed-price menus, weekend brunch and Sunday roasts are further draws, and there’s also a dedicated martini bar with around 20 different creations – try the chilli-infused ‘hot passion’. The canal-side site ranges over different levels, with the added bonus of an alfresco terrace.

£30 - £49
Modern European
L

L'Absinthe

40 Chalcot Road, London, NW1 8LS

True to its name, there’s something addictive about L’Absinthe. Set up in 2007 by exuberant expat Burgundian Jean-Christophe Slowik (who worked with Marco Pierre White for 20 years), this neighbourhood brasserie has won over the locals with its homespun appeal and quirky charms. It’s a fine spot for dinner with friends, particularly as the menu lines up unfussy bourgeois staples with some impressive wines – many offered at retail price (plus £10 corkage). Leeks vinaigrette with poached eggs or marinated herrings with potato salad might give way to beef bourguignon, cod fillet with ratatouille or confit duck with braised red cabbage and baby onion sauce. And with crêpes Suzette or absinthe-spiked crème brûlée to finish, it’s all highly reassuring. Next door is the Spirit of Absinthe, a café and deli/bar where you can drop in during the day for drinks and snacks.

£30 - £49
French
La Collina

La Collina

17 Princess Road, London, NW1 8JR

A canny neighbourhood restaurant for this well-to-do part of town, La Collina hits the spot by offering the comforting familiarity of Italian cuisine presented with a contemporary sheen. Staff are relaxed and eager to please, the interior offers soothing neutrality (neither too smart nor too homely) and outdoor tables make for a proper Mediterranean ambience when the mercury is up. The kitchen sets out its regional stall by offering pan-fried polenta with wild mushrooms, Asiago cheese and black truffles as well as carpaccio of salmon with lemon and pink peppercorn dressing. After that, pasta is always worth a shout (perhaps tortellini in brodo or homemade strozzapreti with wild boar ragù) – or you can proceed straight to a main of, say, pan-fried cod fillet with lentils or calf’s liver veneziana. Desserts are in the classic tiramisu mould, while Italy’s top wine regions get a good showing on the drinks list.

£30 - £49
Italian
Lansdowne

Lansdowne

90 Gloucester Avenue, Chalk Farm, London, NW1 8HX

It’s now well into its third decade, but the “lovely” Lansdowne is still one of the coolest pubs in the area – you’ll often find Primrose Hill’s celebrity elite sipping summertime pints and fizz at its pavement tables. Even without the jet set, a ridiculously trendy bunch of drinkers fills the cosy, woody frayed-at-the-edges interior, but thankfully pretension is kept in check and there’s generally a friendly vibe. Dreamy bar staff pour glasses of crisp Viognier and G&Ts, while the kitchen works hard churning out “fabulous” homemade pizzas plus “reliable” Med-style dishes from an enticing chalked-up menu. Expect Spanish red pepper stew with a baked duck egg, roast cod and sautéed celeriac with clams, peas and gremolata or wild boar meatballs with tomato ragù and pappardelle followed by some sturdy English puds such as apple and rhubarb crumble with custard In short, a fun-loving, if rather noisy, treat.

£30 - £49
Pizza
Gastropub