Thursday, 3 April 2008
The Prince Regent, Herne Hill
I'm not in the habit of trawling the unlikely South Western suburbs of London for a good meal, but fortunately on this occasion I had someone else to do the research for me. There are few things more valuable than a recommendation from a foodie friend, and so off we trotted on a warm spring evening to the Prince Regent, a tastefully renovated space on the Dulwich Road which I'm told used to be the grottiest of old-man boozers but now was all light and space, solid pine furniture and cut-glass interiors.
The daily menu was scribbled charmingly (and mildly illiterately) on a couple of blackboards on a wall of the restaurant. There was no printed version, so throughout the evening groups of diners huddled around the handwritten menu like anxious students checking exam results. I was immediately interested in the homemade soda bread, but unfortunately the accompanying oysters would have probably sent me straight to hospital so instead I plumped for the smoked eel salad.
A bit of a curate's egg of a dish, the eel itself was gorgeous, delicately smoked, firm but moist. However the sauce was unpleasantly fizzy and although I'm sure this was just a side-effect of mixing mayonnaise with horseradish rather than it being off, it was quite disconcerting. A couple of slices of lovely crispy bacon on top did wonders to make amends though.
Main course of lamb rump and ratatouille was an assuredly accomplished bit of cooking. Other than the lamb being rather messily butchered, I could hardly fault this dish. Dauphinoise potatoes were rich and seasoned to perfection, the ratatouille was a satisfyingly straightforward but nonetheless tasty addition, and the lamb itself was as pink and juicy as you could want.
And so, another very deserving London neighbourhood gains a thoroughly respectable new gastropub. Well worth the trip to the outer boundary of Zone 2, the Prince Regent lives up to its name as a regal and dignified establishment.