Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gastropubs

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gastropubs

Article excerpt

Byline: CHARLES CAMPION

The Hartley Bar And Dining Rooms, SE1 This is Hartley, as in the famous jam maker. The Hartley company's old jam factory is on the opposite side of Tower Bridge Road and now houses expensive loft apartments, snapped up by wealthy City slickers. So, in this instance, it's a case of where once there was jam, there's now plenty of bread. The Hartley opened just before Christmas 2003 and is aimed at the new, rich locals. They have responded by packing the place, although trade can be slow on a midweek lunchtime.

The food is very good indeed, and prices are competitive. The chef is Kerwin Browne and he knows his stuff - big flavours, brave combinations of ingredients, unfussy dishes, unpretentious food. All the starters cost less than [pounds sterling]5, and mains range from just under [pounds sterling]7 to [pounds sterling]10, with the majority around [pounds sterling]8. For cooking of this quality these are bargain prices.

There is a blackboard featuring the daily specials, and the menu itself changes from time to time.

Setting aside the merits of tripe, chorizo and chips, go straight for the smoked eel, horseradish and rocket - inch-square cubes of fried potato make a perfect foil for fluffy horseradish cream, rocket and a melted butter and chive sauce.

This is a great combo. There will be a terrine on the menu, perhaps made from confit duck and Toulouse sausage.

Skilful stuff and good to eat. Mains run from macaroni cheese, truffle, poached egg and baby spinach; to a salt cod fish cake, green salad, duck-fat chips and aioli; and a tartlet of veal sweetbreads, ox tongue, black pudding and grain mustard - a confident dish, with crisp pastry, the meats piled on top of a mound of spinach perked up with grain mustard. A side dish of buttered cabbage is worth singling out for special praise.

Puds (at [pounds sterling]3.95) appeal, too - hot chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream. The wine list offers sound bottles at sensible prices. Service is informal and friendly. The Hartley deserves to be jammed.

nosebag

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