If you want a South London pub experience that's almost good enough for royalty then the Prince Regent is your man.
The Prince Regent can be found opposite lovely Brockwell Park on Dulwich Road, a short distance from Herne Hill station. The unmissable profile of the Prince is proudly displayed above the door, and the building stands regally on the corner. Out front, picnic tables for alfresco drinkers are packed into the garden and the area overflows come summertime when the park empties.
Inside, the pub and dining room areas are adjacent to each other, both decked out in the same varnished dark woods with arching etched glass. Upstairs, there are two private rooms available for hire (the Regency and Drawing Room) – one is more suited to informal drinking and dining, and the other is more grand and better suited to formal functions.
A smart south London gastro pub, the clientele on the restaurant side of the Prince Regent are mainly mid thirties, serious and bespectacled, and the topics of civilised conversation err towards intelligent over frivolous. Leave the larks to the bar room drinkers. Even the entertainment has intellect in the form of the weekly pub quiz.
Candlelit dining is exclusively table service – and that service is confident and courteous, if curt towards those who are indecisive or dwell too long. Genuine recommendations come without prompting - you learn what’s good before the menu arrives, and not just what they’re trying to sell. The twinkle in the waitress’ eye means she loves that chocolate and prune cake; in fact, you’re lucky she left you some.
The main menu at the Prince Regent is excellent. The risotto (£5.95/£9.85) is incredible - thick rice, light cream, delicate flavours, topped with slabs of parmesan. Another choice that comes in a small or larger portion is the haddock fishcake with celeriac remoulade (£5.90/£9.75), which packs in flavour and is the exact consistency a fishcake should be. The celeriac is crisp and refreshing, but the edge is taken off by lovely mayonnaise. Attention is lavished on seasonal ingredients with indisputable just picked freshness and exquisite fine dining presentation on the more delicate dishes.
The scent of mint reaches you before the English strawberry tartlette (£4.30) and the sprig is just the finishing touch. Serving such good pastry gives away where the talents of the chefs lie. Don’t go home without dessert, even if you’re not a ‘dessert person’. The chocolate brownie with pistachio ice cream (£4.30) is another top recommendation.
The bar serves North Yorkshire favourite Black Sheep Ale and three rotating guest ales, which more than suffice. Ciders have slightly less emphasis and lagers almost none, so best to stick with what they know. The decent length wine list has a wide range: the red rioja Bodegas Lan (£18.85) is smooth and velvety; the Brushwood Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon (£15.30) a touch tart; the Argentine Viognier La Linda Luigi Bosca (£14.20) unoaked and vanilla scented.
The list is handily divided into types for white and red: fresh and light, medium and fruity, full-flavoured and aromatic for whites, or a lighter taste, medium and spicy, rich and rounded for the reds. Then there’s the ‘something special’ and rose bottles. All in all, there’s enough for those who know their wine to be getting on with, but guidance for those who don’t.
The Last Word
A quite remarkable pub excelling in many areas, the Prince Regent is a fabulous place to dine or drink.