A new gastropub opening in the capital isn’t, in itself, a cause to turn heads, but when two former Brat chefs are recruited to lead the kitchen charge, it’s hard not to blink an eye. This British boozer in the heart of Kentish town is exactly that: a glass-clinking cacophony of after-work chit chat and general busyness at the front of the venue, with a slightly more civilised restaurant tucked away at the back.
It’s a stunning room with huge windows, emerald-green banquettes, colourful stained glass and an open kitchen inset into wood-panelled walls. We’re directed towards a blackboard on the wall for ‘today’s menu’, which changes regularly with the seasons and hence does away with the need to endlessly reprint menus. It’s a nice nod to the pub’s sustainable ethos, which prizes regenerative agriculture, zero-waste cooking and working with local suppliers above all else.
The menu revolves around a sharing concept and once we order, plates arrive promptly. Spider crab croquettes make an indelible first impression: creamy crab bechamel encased in a yielding crisp coating. Elsewhere, flickers of Brat’s flame-imbued flair emerge again and again. There is, of course, the majestic wood-roasted sea bream – its signature dish – which is unapologetically reminiscent of Brat’s famous whole turbot, and close on quality, if you ask us. It’s an unworldly-soft, pearlescent piece of craftsmanship available for the criminally good price of £34. Further fire-licked fare includes squashy potato bread served with smoked butter - the consistency of whipped cream - and blackened charcoal leeks smattered with rich dollops of pecorino sauce. Squash with beans and blood orange is the most surprising of the lot, an uplifting plate of soupy cannellini beans crowned with tempura butternut. Finally, a powerfully bitter chocolate torte somehow functions as a palate-cleansing end to our meal.
To drink, a considered biodynamic wine list fits on two sides of A4, although we opted for a delicious and seasonal blood orange spritz. We have only exemplary things to say of The Parakeet – this is one of the finest gastropubs in London.