Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Charles Campion GASTROPUBS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Charles Campion GASTROPUBS

Article excerpt

Byline: CHARLES CAMPION

The Cumberland Arms, W14

It must be strange to be one of the Cumberland's regulars. The pub is busy, but the locals are in danger of being swamped by the floating population of attendees at whatever exhibition is being held at Olympia. One week the bar will be full of publishers who have spent the day at the London Book Fair and have the name badges to prove it, but the next week it may be computer engineers, or even timeshare salesmen.

The Cumberland Arms is part of a quartet of gastropubs all set up by the Manners brothers (the first was the Atlas in Seagrave Road, SW6) and, like the others, this one sticks closely to pubby values. On the plus side you can get a decent pint of beer, and the wine list tops out under pound sterling20, but it also means that diners must compete with drinkers and smokers for their tables and may not always be victorious.

The food is broadly Mediterranean (mainly Italian influences), keenly priced and comes in huge portions.

The antipasti plate is awesomely good. There are three elements - a frittata made with red peppers, courgettes, aubergines and goat's cheese, thick with a great texture - wholly successful. And with it a chickpea salad with cumin and coriander, plus a smoked salmon salad with endive, capers and olives.

A steal at three for pound sterling6. Or how about a combination of duck breast, honeyroast pears, red onions, slow-roast tomato and pesto? It may read like a wish list, but for once all the elements seem happy together. You would need a serious appetite to assault the rigatoni with meatballs, tomato, oregano, thyme, garlic and Parmesan as a starter - a large portion, good meatballs, pasta spot on and a delicious rustic sauce. Main courses range from pan-roast fillet of cod served with sauteed cauliflower and green beans 'alla Fiorentina' to grilled Italian sausages with fennel and black pepper, or grilled rib-eye steak and a sweet-potato crumble with toasted pine nuts and garlic-leafandred-onion marmalade. The steak is accurately cooked and the 'crumble' an interesting side - sweet potato mash topped with a layer of crisped pine nuts. Good food, good prices - a real pub. …

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