Monday, October 7, 2013

London Guide: The Grafton

The other Saturday, K and I planned a trip to Brighton for a night out, which unfortunately had to be postponed.  We opted for the Kentish Town/Camden area instead and set out on a bit of a whim, headed for a pub restaurant that I had read about online - and then that turned out to have been only a summer stint that was now over.  Not a great start to a night out.

We ended up at The Grafton, an unassuming-looking pub on the corner of Prince of Wales Road and Grafton Road in Kentish Town.

This is the point at which I must admit that, while in college I used to pride myself on the fact that I would drink almost anything, I have grown out of that very quickly as my 20s have progressed, and I am now a slightly fussy pint drinker.  While I still drink pints happily, I definitely prefer to drink real ale and the occasional real cider (read: not Strongbow, Magners or Bulmers).  This leads to a bit of trepidation when entering a new pub for the first time when I'm in a pint-drinking mood.

Luckily, The Grafton delivered.  There were a range of real ales and craft brews on tap, including a Camden Town Brewery selection and Twickenham Fine Ales' most prevalent Naked Ladies.  In my experience, it is rare to find Twickenham Fine Ales outside of Twickenham, and I love their beers.

The crowd was pretty low key but seemed to be made up of groups of close friends, ranging in size from only a few to quite large, and we got the distinct impression that this was a "local" pub - meaning one frequented by regulars, who might visit on a Saturday night but are equally likely to be found there on a Wednesday after work or on a Sunday afternoon.  I'm finding it hard to describe how you differentiate this from a pub visited occasionally by strangers, but there is a definite difference and you know it when you feel it.  This makes a pub feel homey and welcoming in some way.

Due to my Internet-scout failings, we were also looking for some food.  The Grafton has a resident chef known as the Fat Butcher, offering up a daily menu.  On the night we went, the menu included a pumpkin, sage and Gorgonzola spelt pancake on the menu (£10), ham hock, leek and cheddar croquettes with a smoked ketchup (£7), and house-cured bacon belly with lentils and mustard (£12).  At the beginning of a night of drinking, we all opted for the "beer lover's special" of German sausage, sauerkraut, onions and mustard in a bun (£5) with chips (£3.50).  It was the best fancy hotdog that I've had a long time.  The chips were really pricey, but perfectly crunchy and crisp.

Overall, the perfect place to casually start a night out, and I would be happy to do as the locals do in the future and spend a Sunday afternoon here.

Ratings: (numbers out of 10, £ out of 4)

Drinks: 8
Food: 7
Atmosphere: 7
Service: 7
Price: £££
Overall experience: 7

(All photographs save the bottom two - which are mine - courtesy of The Grafton)

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