Friday, 22 July 2011

The Assembly House, Kentish Town, NW5

Just a quick one from me on the Assembly House, another possible food option in Kentish Town (I've been a bit more hungry in Kentish Town recently!). The entire pub was shut for ages this summer for a refit, and inside now it is even more gorgeous than before. It was always beautiful, as it's a huge old building, all mirrors and high ceilings, huge windows, wooden bars, but now it just feels like a super fancy, extremely swish sort of place to have a pint. And Kirin beer on tap! And the all important ale-selection for the ale lovers, as I have many friends who have demonstrated to me the importance of a pub having at least one good ale. But this wasn't about the drinks -  this was about the food.
So alongside this plush interior overhaul comes the fancy-pants pseudo-gastro pub menu. You know exactly what I mean - it's not sausage and mash, it's Suffolk Farmers pork sausage with West Country cheddar mash and red onion gravy. Fair enough I suppose, detail is useful, but it's disappointing when the food doesn't nearly taste as good as the description sounds.
The dining area in the back

Halloumi and chips with side salad
Tempted in by the two meals for £11.95 offer which will run indefinitely, my friend and I both went for veggie options. I had the "Hand-battered Halloumi with skin-on chips, dressed salad and red pepper and chilli dip." whereas my mate had "Caremlised shallot, Croxton Manor cheddar & Ruddles rarebit tart in thyme pastry with a caremlised red onion chutney, served with new potatoes and a dressed salad." Whew, long names! 
Occasionally pub food is greasy but just hits the spot in the right way, but this utterly missed the mark. My halloumi was an oily deep-fried mess and I would have preferred supermarket-bought halloumi dry-fried at home. It had more of the consistency of mozzarella, rather than that squeaky plasticiness I had hoped for. The chilli sauce was a handy addition at least, as virtually all the cheese's flavour and saltiness had drowned in the batter and frying process as a result, and while the chips were fine, the salad was a handful of wilting out-the-bag afterthought with far too little dressing (ironic considering the salad was even advertised as 'dressed', as if that was to be an unusual and pleasant addition). Pub food sort of needs to be greasy but this was a bit much even for me.
Things fared not too much better for the fancy long-named tart. It was small and tough, and drenched in that red onion chutney which overpowered everything and tasted like it had come out of a jar. My friend did say it was nicely cheesy, so maybe not a total loss, but the same situation again as with my deal with its side salad.
It's a shame that although the pub itself is gorgeous after being redone, that what comes out the kitchen got overlooked, but that's how it goes I guess. It's a lovely pub, mind. The staff are friendly and chatty, the interior is beautiful and the drink selection is nice and varied. Just don't bother with the food.

The Assembly House, 292 Kentish Town Road/Leighton Road, Kentish Town, NW5 2TG, 020 7485 2031


  1. They should have spent less on interior decorators and more on chefs! I LOVE the concept of fried cheese, which makes it all the more disappointing to hear it wasn't good.

    Oh well, good place for a beer and a packet of crisps.

  2. What a pity it was an oil bath - two meals for £11.95 does sound too good to be true!


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