"It's not much but it's ours"

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Sometimes it’s the small things that impress. I’d just had my Pork Board (how could you not order something called a Pork Board) when the friendly server asked me if I’d enjoyed it. I said I had, but there weren’t enough Pork Scratchings. She went away and returned soon after with a bowl of freshly cooked crisp piggy goodness. Things like that make me inclined to like a place.

I also liked the ale which, as anyone who drinks in the capital’s pubs will know, can be a bit crap. Here it was well kept and had that wonderfully fresh aroma and thirst- quenching ability that the best beers have. I’d especially recommend the Harvey’s Sussex Best if it’s on which was as good as I’ve had in Sussex itself.

Back to that Pork Board (yes we must). There were other porcine delights too: a little croquette of Pig’s Cheek with a tart sauce gribiche; a dense meaty GOS Pate with piccalilli; proper Ham; Salami and some rolled Pork Belly which spread easily onto excellent homemade Brown Bread. Speaking of which, that bread made a better match than the flat variety on the plate. There was nothing especially wrong with it or the almonds or the stuffed guindillas which all added a little Moro-esque touch to the dish, but to be honest I would have given them all up for another fried pig’s cheek. How ever would this dish be shared ?

Surprisingly, the only disappointment came with my main course. I’d heard the triple-cooked (yes, those again) chips here were the best in show. They certainly looked the part with a golden brown colour that said: eat me. The problem was they didn’t have those extra layers of crunch that the best examples have - I’m thinking of the Bull and Last here. In the end they were just superior fat chips and you all know what Dos Hermanos think of those.

The rest of the plate was textbook stuff – not surprising given co-owner and chef James McLean’s CV. Rib Eye, although not the Gigantor-like specimens DH are used to was notably good meat and had the taste of the grill (mmmm…grill). There was a fine Béarnaise to dip my fat chips into, some neatly trimmed, squeaky green beans and some dried Tomatoes that had a very intense taste of, get this, Tomato. Whatever next ?

Affogato (Italian for drowned) is an espresso with a scoop of Ice Cream in it. Sounds like an interesting way to combine pud and coffee if you’re in a hurry but next time I think I’ll stick to a bowl of the stuff, ice cream that is, and a coffee to follow.

The Bull and Last is our current standard when it comes to Gastropubs, or pubs with restaurants as we should probably call them to separate them from the chaff, but in many ways the dining experience is more enjoyable at The Princess Victoria.

I’ve already talked about the beer but the wine list, from other owner and ex-sommelier of The Capital, Matt Wilkin is better, there’s a proper dining room in which to eat and the atmosphere on a Saturday lunchtime is less hectic. Crucially though, you won’t get Giles Coren coming in on spec and nabbing your seat.

That said, the B&L with its bar snacks (Black Pudding studded Sausage Roll anyone ?), its wider range of dishes and its two types of chips wins out in the all-important food category. If I lived anywhere in West London though (and not a day goes by when I thank my own personal god that I don’t) I’d be more than happy to have the Princess Victoria on my doorstep. Now, all they need to do is to fix those chips.

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Blogger Patrick said...

Another one for my ever lengthening list.

If you guys rate the B&L number 1 who are you rating 2? The Harwood Arms?

Thursday, October 08, 2009 1:29:00 pm  
Anonymous Leo said...

And each day we who do live in West London also thank your personal God that you do not live here.

Thursday, October 08, 2009 1:53:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

I love it when West Londoners try to be humorous. It's like watching a kitten try to untangle a ball of string. Bless


Thursday, October 08, 2009 2:45:00 pm  
Blogger Passport Foodie said...

Ahhh... fried food. 'tis the English way.

Those chippies look slightly bloated. They look more like Tater Tots than chips.

Passport Foodie

Thursday, October 08, 2009 8:19:00 pm  
Blogger Fishman said...

Best Sunday lunch i've eaten in London at the Princess Victoria.

Friday, October 09, 2009 12:39:00 pm  
Blogger The Ample Cook said...

We would be grateful for chips HALF as good as that in a pub in our part of Essex.

Sunday, October 11, 2009 3:37:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fair & accurate review. Have had a couple of great meals at the Princess Victoria...a rather splendid place. Am puzzled that that you rate the Bull & Last so highly. Hmmmm, it must be a food critic thing. The Junction Tavern up the road is far superior in every way & not quite so up its own backside.

Saturday, October 24, 2009 7:52:00 pm  
Anonymous CE said...

The curse of the south-made fish and chips has struck again.We went to the PV for lunch-the special(sic) of the day was F&C which we ordered.It failed the DH test completely(twice).I touched the fish batter with my knife and it oozed grease,and cutting into the batter-the fish below was covered in yellow slime.DH says this is cos'the oil is not hot enough.Sent it back(with no quibble) and they brought out another.Again the yellow slime beneath the batter.They said it was because the fish was "too big"-No it was not a great white or anything but what passes for a normal portion down south.I don't think the PV have ever seen a normal portion in the part of England north of Watford.

Friday, November 13, 2009 2:37:00 pm  

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