Food you have to eat in Kilburn this summer
Or Queen’s Park if you’re feeling fancy
We all deal with sadness in different ways. Some of us cry, some exercise or spring-clean, others drown their sorrows with alcohol, and some of us eat (personally, I try to do all of these things at once). In the aftermath of the recent big-ticket news item, namely Brexit, what better time to go out to stuff your face into distraction? Oh, and since food prices look like they’ll rise – especially those covetous speciality ingredients from prestigious continental regions – it’s best to make the most of any European dining while you can.
I live in an area of London called Queen’s Park (or Kilburn, depending on whether or not I’m trying to sound fancy) where there are some true gems to dine out at. Here’s a shortlist – enjoy.
Step inside the rugged, exposed yellow brick interior and sink yourself onto a leather sofa to enjoy a menu that continues the mixture of quaint English with a minimalist edge – the Alice House is a gorgeous pub at the top of its game, with a cocktail menu to match.
This is a place that genuinely aims to please with everything it presents, without the a side of snobbery. The drinks menu is full of fresh flavours – cocktails in teacups may not be the most original idea these days, but the Teapot gin punch is truly delicious – and the food is classic yummy Mummy with a couple of surprises like the squash and spelt salad. It’s a simple, uncomplicated menu perfectly suited to the setting – and always tasty.
Personal favourite: Right now, the black bream with fennel and samphire
Must-have: A Hip Lady cocktail – refreshing and classy
Perfect for: Dinner with housemates, or friends if they’re visiting for more than one night
A classic Spanish tapas restaurant that also makes room for excellent drinks. It’s intimate, warm and friendly with beautiful Moorish panelling in the doors – if that doesn’t draw you in, the salty scent of cooked chorizo should do it.
It’s not the most extensive tapas menu you’ll ever find, but for a small kitchen and a healthy appetite, it’s all you’ll need. Atmosphere ranges from fiesta-like (on a busy night) to intimate; there are also a couple of small tables outside that are perfect for two on a sunny summer’s day.
Personal favourite: Charred aubergine and sweet peppers
Must-have: Homemade Torte de Santiago for dessert – comes with lavender ice-cream (and you can always get the churros as well…)
Perfect for: Casual date night with bae
THE place to go when you’re hungover – as long as you can cope with the enormous menu.
It sits at the end of a picturesque street, and the food is good enough that you can eat it without feeling shameful. Savoury, sweet pancakes, or just coffee – whatever you need, it’s here.
Personal favourite: Bloody Marys (served from 10:30am on weekends)
Must-have: The Yankee Doodle Dandy pancakes, if you can handle the level of sugar
Perfect for: The morning after
Shifting focus to Kilburn High Road, you’ll find most of the better eateries towards the north end near Kilburn station. The North Tavern is whatever you need it to be – pub, gastro pub, hipster bar-cum-pub (don’t worry, there is an Instagram account) – with one major special addition: oysters.
They make a point of using plenty of seasonal local produce and it shows – the mains are mostly the usual suspects, but each one a prime example in its class, and a selection of . The team there also run a great selection of events and entertainment – it’s easy to get drawn in on a weeknight.
Personal favourite: Butterbean and jerk spiced hummus
Must-have: Oysters, if you do
Perfect for: Just hanging…
One of my absolute favourite places to eat right now. True Puglian cuisine in true Italian portion sizes (the antipasti selection for two is a full meal in itself if you’re looking for a light bite), every single thing I eat here always tastes utterly incredible.
The people are classically warm and friendly, the white and blue tiling is charmingly rural, and the entire experience will just, I promise, be a pleasure throughout. Be sure to book in advance as they fill up quickly – although they’ll always do their best to fit in another pair at the bar – and their reputation is growing, deservedly so.
Personal favourite: King prawns with chilli, garlic and rocket
Must-have: The stuffed, baked aubergine – it’s got the most amazingly meaty texture
Perfect for: Celebrating, however large or small (to be honest, find any excuse you can to go)
Two units on the Salusbury Road – one a foodstore with a sunny daytime café, and the other a low-lit bar and restaurant stuffed full of books and some excellent wines.
The cuisine is a little more elevated than many of its Queen’s Park neighbours, in a fine-dining pan-European style, with quail, pâté and terrine featuring. The rich dishes mean that you don’t need a lot, and of course every dish has a wine that it goes rather too well with. Be prepared to take your time over the feast – especially as the starters are more interesting than the mains, so you’ll definitely want one.
Personal favourite: The Argentinian Malbec – a deep, bold red
Must-have: Venison fillet with mustard mash & spinach
Perfect for: A family outing, or a second date
Try them out – and let me know if I’ve missed anywhere in the area!