Ah Northcote Road. It was where I started when I first moved to London. Niki and I were moving from Brussels and Mexico respectively and my friends Shona and Anthony were moving out. Only we didn’t quite time it right so all 5 of us stayed in our 3 bed flat for the first month, next to the Akash curry house, with the sweet smell of chicken tikka massala wafting in our bedroom windows; and a hop, skip and a jump from the fanastic Holy Drinker which became our local. It was always nappy valley, where we had to dodge prams and puffa body warmers to get to Clapham Junction. But its that bit more posh nowadays – with delis; tapas bars; Whistles, Kew and Fenn Wright Manson; a street market; and that true sign of a posh neighbourhood – designer baby shops.
So, I had to find a place for Niki and I and a couple of friends to meet last night and I happened to receive Urban Junkies’ 10 best new restaurants in London of 2009 in the morning. I didn’t expect any to be south of the thames, but lo and beyold, The Draft House was on their list so I invited everyone along.
It’s where the old Pitcher and Piano was, and a really welcoming little gaff. The waiter took time to explain the menu and the amazing selection of beers (which thanks to Siobhan, we tried – very nice) but being girls we ordered the house red which was a lovely chianti from tuscany, cheap and very nice.
I must admit even by the end I was slightly surprised it was on the top 10 list but the food was very very good. The menu is great although we only had the mains. The veggies had the recommended macaroni with wild mushrooms which they said was very good, although the accompanying salad a little dull, and Siobhan and I had the burger and bavette steak respectively. Both were yummy – my steak was perfectly done, in the typical French rare style, and I was very impressed with the bearnaise sauce – it was done how I liked it in Brussels but which I’ve rarely tasted as good in the UK – buttery with tons of tarragon. The puddings were also lovely – the chocolate pot was rich and tasty and the apple cake and lemon tart also nice.
It was great value – £25 each for a main and pudding with a bottle of wine between 2, it had cute pictures on the walls, friendly staff, a nice crowd, and I loved the eclectic music – Frank Sinatra and Jeff Buckley amongst others. Apparently it’s only been open a month or so, so the ambience and efficiency is likely to get better – our only complaints being that it was blummin’ cold and the food took too long to arrive (hence the second bottle of wine). I’d also have liked the lighting and tables to be a little better – but this can come in time.
I’d highly recommend it as a great local bar and restaurant with a cool atmosphere, somewhere to take homesick continentals who want a decent draft beer and foodies who want authentic home cooked food (cockles and mussels anyone?) in a restaurant you feel like you could stay for hours.