Saturday 19 January 2013

The Club Room in the Northcote, Northcote Road, South London

A longstanding pub at the foot of Battersea Rise, the Northcote has a recently-refurbished upstairs room that you can hire for free for a private meal.  Aiming for a smart, but contemporary feel, the Club Room's decor is an excessive mix of materials, colours and patterns, exemplified by a bizarre chandelier made from antlers. The striped carpet says conference centre, but the wooden blinds, panelled walls and black and white prints are more stylish. You eat from white crockery on bare wooden tables. Still, this is a good venue for a sports club annual dinner - the cheerful young staff in the Club Room don't seem to mind serving raucous groups of men.

Suspiciously neat and tidy
The Northcote's beers, which include  Hogsback, Sambrooks and Youngs, are more imaginative than those in the typical London boozer, but the British food is fairly safe. In the Club Room, the menu might have a selection of four or five dishes per course. Among the starters, the salmon tart, served with a poached egg in an hollandaise sauce, is a nice combination. For a main course, the chargrilled lamb leg steak, served with sweet potato and garlic butter, can be a bit too fatty. But you also get side dishes stacked high with vegetables, such as carrots, purple cabbage and decent new potatoes. For desert, the sticky toffee pudding, with vanilla ice cream, is suspiciously neat and tidy. Moreover, it doesn't taste homemade.  The wines on the short, but well-explained, list start at about £15 a bottle. All-in-all, the food comes in generous portions and is reasonable value (two courses £25, three courses £30), but the Northcote won't appeal to gastronomes. 6/10