Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The Holly Bush

I've had a lot of favourite pubs in my time in the UK. They change every so often depending on where I've lived and also whether or not I've been thirsty or hungry. Pubs rarely met both needs well, until the advent of the gastropub a few years ago. But then, there are also good gastropubs and bad gastropubs.

This little beauty, called the Holly Bush in Hampstead, has been my favourite for the last 5 or 6 years. I like it best because of the atmosphere - it's homely and welcoming, and a nice place to sit and drink (and eat, too). It's not only got a great menu, it also has real ales as well as draft Hoegaarden and Leffe. It's also got many little nooks and crannies downstairs where parties of 2 to 6 could fit easily with a modicum of privacy, as well as sofas and chairs upstairs for those people who only want drinks. There's even a legend about a resident ghost - the pub has no table service, but for some years, customers used to give their orders to a waitress who would promptly disappear. The orders never reached the kitchen of course...

Holly Bush
22 Holly Mount
London NW3 6SG
+44 20 7435 2892

There are a number of things that are usually on the menu here. For starters there's a pint of prawns and quail eggs. The pint of prawns is standard - the prawns are no fresher than anywhere else. The quail eggs though, are fresh and simple - boiled just set, and you sprinkle them yourself with black pepper and salt. I also recommend the salads. The Pretty Lady has occasionally had them - smoked mackerel and roast duck on our last two visits.

Veal shank is great whenever it's been on the menu - usually stewed until it melts off the bone, accompanied by mash or fondant potato and whatever vegetables are in season. Other than that, it's something of a potluck, as the menu changes weekly (or even daily), and there are occasionally gems available. As a guide the chef is very good at red meat, less good at poultry, but I think there's been some turnover over the years, so it's a rule of thumb, no more.

Puddings are a bit hit and miss. To be honest I'd go for the stickies, the brandies, whiskies and dessert wines. This pub has an excellent selection, ranging from Italian sweet wines to 3 varieties of cognac. And an interesting Benrinnes which I have yet to try...


3 September 2008: TFQ = 24, CS = 23, S = 15, AD = 10, VfM = 6. Total = 76 points.

1 comment:

MsMarmitelover said...

I like the Holly Bush too.
Your point scoring thing looks complicated. Is it made up or real?