Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Review: Tufnell Park Tavern.


Tufnell Park Tavern is a recently opened gastropub in my hood, occupying a huge building which has variously been a slightly dodgy late-opening bar and a jazz bar. It has been empty for a couple of years but excitement rumbled around the hood as renovations took place and signs went up proclaiming the soon-to-open Tufnell Park Tavern, under the same management as The Lansdowne.

We decided to try it out for my birthday meal. Unfortunately, birthday girl was to leave disappointed. The service was slow, which could be forgiven as it was only the first week of opening. But my food was terrible. And that is never forgivable. I had fresh garlic soup with a poached egg, but the soup was curiously flavourless considering its proclaimed garlic content and, even worse, it tasted of stale tap water. My main course was grilled halloumi skewers with green wheat and a marjoram dressing. First of all, I got three measly squares of halloumi. But worse, it was skewered with red onion which was basically raw. And the abundant bed of green wheat upon which the disappointing skewers were laid was unseasoned and with no dressing that I could discern. Which meant that for £9.50, I was eating raw onion, plain wheat and three bites of halloumi. Unimpressed.


Cheesecake dessert was OK, but how can cheesecake ever be wrong? James thought his food was passable, but he ordered steak which he 'only orders if there's nothing else on the menu he wants.'

At £75 for two, with a couple of drinks each, we felt pretty ripped off. Tufnell Park is prime gastropub territory, with a high percentage of local yummy families and yuppies who will be the bread and butter trade for this pub. When we visited it had only been open a week and you could tell it was people's first visit. The sound of people calculating the benefit to their house price with the presence of a smart pub like the Tufnell Park Tavern was practically audible.


I wonder whether they will see returning custom, though. The prices are steep for a neighbourhood joint and the food I had was definitely not worth the price tag. I have heard that the pizzas offered in the bar are wonderful, and I will probably go back and try those. And the deli and coffee bar looks relaxed and inviting, for weekend treats. But overall: fail.

[Pictures borrowed with thanks to everyday lifestyle.]

13 comments:

  1. Oh, how disappointing, especially for a birthday treat. The interior looks very nice but you go for the food. Do chefs actually taste what they serve sometimes??

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  2. It was so disappointing! Bizarre, I'm sure both of us would make far tastier food!

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  3. well let's hope it improves and it was because it was the first week...(because its so close it would be soooo convenient if it was awesome.)

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  4. oh that sounds awful - hate it when you could genuinely have made it better yourself at home. Hope you had an alternative birthday dinner though, raw onion and stale tap water soup should not be it for another year! And fingers crossed they pull their socks up a bit...

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  5. 75 pounds??!! That is madness. Very disappointing!

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  6. Oh no! That must have been so disappointing :( I hate paying for dinner out when it's rubbish - I always feel so cheated. I guess that might be why I always go for places I've already been to for occasions – means I'm unoriginal but I know I'll like it!

    P.S. £75!!!!! Ouch!!!

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  7. looks real nice but that price is bloody awful, i'd be sweating for a couple of weeks after if i knew i'd paid that much for a pub lunch

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  8. Good grief, this was probably me: "The sound of people calculating the benefit to their house price with the presence of a smart pub like the Tufnell Park Tavern was practically audible." I live four doors down and now that I've read what I must have sounded like, I realise I'm a complete twat.

    On the plus side, I quite like the food here, I can recommend the 'Turkish' pizza, and the staff are friendly. Also, fairly good wireless if yours doesn't work ever and good big dog/celebrity spotting (Damien Lewis and the little bloke from Orange Film Adverts)

    That's my two penneth!

    James

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  10. So glad I saw your blog! I just googled Tufnell Park Tavern as I was thinking of having my birthday dinner there too....think I'll revert to The Junction instead!!

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  11. I live round the corner and thought it was ok, but i did go in week two on a monday and though it became very busy, it was quiet when we arrived. But it is a danger on the wallet, the wine is overpriced, im gonna stick to cider. The Junction (Top of lady Somerset Road) is still ahead in my eyes. Verdict, bit expensive but pleasant enough.

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  12. Caroline,

    If your dining experience was bad you should have complained. When I went there with a friend we ordered bloody marys, 2 pizza and some bar snacks. The service was slow for our drinks. We got our food before our drinks. The manager realised this and gave us the drinks for free. One of our pizza's was wrong so I complained about that. We couldn't be bothered to wait for another so again the bar manager 50% off the price. If you experience poor service or food, you need to let them know so they can improve themselves.

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  13. I used to work at Tufnell Park Tavern and can't believe the harsh reviews of the food. I thought standards in the kitchen were very good, with some very impressive chefs, mainly from Algeria. As for the slow service , that is more to do with them being repeatedly under staffed. I never understood why they didn't have more staff on busy shifts like Sunday lunch, but the staff themselves cannot be blamed for that. As for the sheer bitterness of these reviews, either you caught the Tavern on a bad day, or (as might gut instinct suggests) most reviews on this page are written by owners of the Junction.

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