Tuesday 23 February 2010

Prince Regent, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill

Opposite Brockwell Park and stranded half way between Brixton and Herne Hill, the Prince Regent is an inviting and popular gastropub that has a stylish, chilled French vibe. It has outside tables, in the shadow of two stocky antique lamp posts, while light floods in through the large windows into the cosy, Victorian wood-panelled bar adjacent to a cosy dining room with an array of big, sturdy wooden tables. The laid-back atmosphere is accentuated by the newspapers, the well-thumbed books and the pile of board games. On draught are a couple of real ales, plus a handful of well-known lagers, such as San Miguel (£3.50 a pint) and Becks (£3.10). If you want something soft, the cloudy apple juice is good and is served with a slice of apple wedged on to the glass.

Tender and delicious
On a Saturday evening, nearly every table in the Prince Regent is occupied with diners, some playing scrabble while they eat. Up to ten specials, drawn from the annals of French rustic cuisine, are described in detail in chalk scrawled on blackboards. While you read, you can munch on chunks of bread, served with olive oil - the first basket is free. A slow cooked daube of ox cheek (about £14), served in a stylish pot on a thick wooden chopping board with parsnip mash and spinach, is tender and delicious, if a tad too salty. The leg of precisely cooked rabbit (also about £14), served in a peppery, creamy sauce, is also tasty, but the accompanying spinach and caramelised potatoes are also excessively seasoned. To follow, you can get a near-perfect, but small, crème brûlée (£4.50), served with a scoop of top notch strawberry ice cream garnished with a leaf of fresh mint. The Rioja Crianza wine (£4.45 for a 175ml glass) is lacklustre for the high price tag, while the service by the friendly French staff is slightly eccentric and vague. Even so, this is a very good gastropub. 8/10