Has This North London Pub Been Salvaged By A Roast Dinner?
A couple of years ago, The Dartmouth Arms on York Rise, north London was a boarded up husk of its former self — another handsome London boozer seemingly discarded and tossed into the pit of potential developers.
Fast forward to a golden-hued autumn Sunday afternoon in 2017, and the pub has reawoken, thanks to the people behind thanks to the people behind Hackney's Chesham Arms pub. Knives and forks clink, soul music coos on a jukebox, all the right meaty, puddingy smells waft from the kitchen. To our surprise and delight, The Dartmouth Arms has not been scrubbed up into an identikit gastropub. There is a, dare we say, community buzz — the kind you get at The Royal Oak in Borough, or The Ivy House in Nunhead.
We've limbered up with a stroll on nearby Hampstead Heath, and having humbly been promised 'one of the best roasts in London', we're frankly champing at the bit. This not being your average gastropub, there's no table service here, well not full table service anyway. We don't think. It's a bit discombobulating actually, especially with a hangover. But thanks to the genuine friendliness of the staff, it doesn't really matter.
The problem with so many of London's Sunday roasts is that they're below par. We've lost count of the number of times we've forked out £15 for a tough bit of meat and a few sloppy mounds of potato and veg. It's a relief, then, that this one comes with crunchy, buttery French beans and cabbage, and crispy potatoes, that haven't been tanning under a heat lamp for half an hour.
The welsh black beef, alas isn't quite up to spec. There's piles of it, and the bits that are good, are really good. Unfortunately, the slices are also marbled with chewy fat, plus the gravy could do with thickening up.
Maybe the beef is having an off day. After all, our companion's lamb is so tender, when he's done with it, all that's left on his plate is a bare bone, resembling something a cartoon dog might gnaw at. But one of London's best roasts? A bit of a stretch at this moment in time.
Dessert, admittedly, is a triumph. A crispy but chewy chocolate brownie squirms for its life in a pool of salted caramel. The creme brulee presented in a blue rim camping tin reminds us that this pub has its roots in hip east London.
No doubt the people behind The Dartmouth Arms have done a fine job in resuscitating what could by now be the pied a terre of some oil tycoon — catering to former locals, and a newer clientele. More attention to detail with the roast really could catapult this boozer into the Premier League of north London Sunday pubs.
The Dartmouth Arms, 35 York Rise, NW5 1SP
Last Updated 23 October 2017