Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gastropubs

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gastropubs

Article excerpt

Byline: KATE SPICER

The Castle, W11

This week someone thought she could get a table at the gastropub du jour, the Anchor And Hope. When she arrived at 6.30pm on a Wednesday night it was already heaving, and the waiting list for tables was closed. The Anchor And Hope is the antithesis of the hard-to-get gaffs like The Ivy and Tom Aikens.

It doesn't take bookings. It's a cool, democratic pub.

When they become the hottest ticket in town, as the A&H is now, pubs should at least temporarily take reservations. It's so rude to their potential customers who may have come miles but who will, probably, be turned away.

Imagine if you'd done the whole trip on the bus - you'd go mental.

But not quite as mental as you would go if you believed the press release for The Castle in Holland Park and took along someone you wanted to impress, like a senior editor at this newspaper. 'Foodies need look no further,' it said. 'The Castle's menu is a mixture of the latest fusion dishes.' I was prepared to believe this, because the stretch of Holland Park Avenue The Castle sits on has some of the city's most fabulous food shops - Mechanicou Brothers greengrocers, Lidgate's butchers, Speck Italian deli, Jeraboam deli, Maison Blanc, to name my most loved. If The Castle kitchen shopped locally for their produce, some pies from Lidgate's, whatever the brothers Mechanicou have selected at the market that morning, well then, Holland Park Avenue would have a gastropub to match its gastroshops.

As it is, The Castle does not deserve the word gastro anywhere near its name.

I kicked off waiting for the important companion with some olives, and they certainly did not come from any of the local delis - they were OK, but pale flavoured and a little too frequently punctuated by the odd bad tasting squidger. I was warming to the place though - they were lighting an open fire and there was an agreeable smell of burnt newspaper and woodsmoke.

When the senior editor arrived we ordered the baked flat breads, one with salami, one with Mediterranean veg.

He was decent in saying it was quite nice, because I thought it was like a bad pizza: a soggy, cool base with a one-dimensional tomato sauce and some straight from the-bag salami. …

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