With its precarious placement halfway up a steep hill in north London’s Tufnell Park, Geronimo Pubs’ The Lord Palmerston more than compensates those that our willing to make the requisite trek to visit.
The pub occupies two floors sectioned off into distinct areas. On the ground floor, a neatly presented front-facing bar with mint green walls and smooth wood panelling leads on to a grander, high-ceilinged dining room with plush seating and a working fireplace. To the right, the newly introduced snug comprises a compact seating area available for private hire, in which diners are invited to plug in their own music devices and are even granted dimmer control over the lighting. Upstairs houses a tastefully decorated function room that is also host to the Tufnell Park Film Club’s biweekly film screenings (annual membership is £10, with your first viewing free).
A dinky beer garden lies at the back, with bountiful trellises climbing up its high walls, and a plentiful supply of cushions to pad the (partially sheltered) surrounding benches with. Sunday barbeques - weather permitting - are also held here.
The pub is deservedly popular with the locals, the majority of whom are well-off families and young professionals in their late twenties to mid-thirties. However, despite its obvious gastro pub credentials, there is no particular sense of snobbery, and staff are laid-back, pleasant, and most importantly, knowledgeable about the food and drink they are serving. The pub is dog-friendly and holds quizzes on Wednesday nights.
When it comes to humble bar snacks, The Lord Palmerston is a foodie heaven, with a range of antipasti (at £3 a plate) available up until closing time. The main menu is textbook gastro fare, and whilst prices do reflect this, a deal on two courses for £14 and three for £18 still proves good value. A starter of katsu pork (£5) comprises dainty cuts of tender meat accompanied by a healthy dollop of fiery horseradish mayonnaise, while a more accessible tempura mullet (£6) is delicately flavoured, with a thick and crunchy batter that is complemented well by a side serving of tangy chilli jam.
The place really pushes the boat out for carnivores when it comes to mains, and pork belly (£12) is a decadent treat – topped with a generous layer of crackling, and atop a creamy bed of mash drizzled in rich, red wine gravy. Vegetarians are faced with a choice of two somewhat less inspired options, including gnocchi and butternut squash, flavoured (but not quite enough so) with chilli and lemon (£11.50).
There are some intriguing options when it comes to desserts, and a Guinness and dark chocolate brownie (£6) does not disappoint. Slightly less successful (although nonetheless inventive) is the popcorn panna cotta (£5.50), garnished with brittle shards of toffee.
The pub has a substantial wine list sub-divided according to style and variety of grape, and a house La Fougere Grenache/Syrah (£16.50 a bottle) is a perfectly quaffable, spicy number. In terms of beer, there is a respectably large range of both lagers and ales to choose from. The former category includes a couple of the more ubiquitous upmarket brands such as Peroni and Staropramen, along with some interesting continental options like a hoppy, Munich-brewed Löwenbräu. Ales are sourced from a variety of breweries, and include Young’s Bitter, Adnam’s Broadside, Doombar , the locally sourced Camden Pale Ale and Trinity’s new Rock the Kazbek - a golden ale with a sweet citrusy flavour and bitter finish. Pride is taken in the pub’s level of quality control, and barrels are changed on a daily basis to avoid any dodgy pints.
Further behind-the-bar skill is exhibited in the £5.50 Bloody Mary, whipped up with a shot of Guinness for extra flavour. And other cocktails, although not advertised, are available on request. It is all in all a decidedly sophisticated affair, and the house spirits are Absolut vodka, Beefeater gin, and Havana rum.
The Last Word
Despite its out of the way location, The Lord Palmerston is definitely worth a look-in if you find yourself (even vaguely) in the surrounding area. Once inside, you will be assured a meticulously prepared drink, a tasty array of eats, and above all, an attractive and comfortable setting in which to enjoy them.