Yet still, one walks into the renovated pub, situated in an affluent but hardly central part of St John’s Wood – a good 15-minute walk from the nearest tube – with low expectations. Too many pubs have re-opened with prices higher than the quality of either the food or service warrants.
Full marks, then, to the new owners Ben and Ed Robson, who have made the Clifton both a splendid place to go for a seriously good meal and an unpretentious neighbourhood boozer.
The ambience isn’t an unusual one – Farrow and Ball colours, carefully chosen furniture – but it’s comfortable and cosy, as a neighbourhood pub should be. There are excellent beers on tap – particularly the Four Pure’s Juicebox – and a decent menu of bar snacks, not least the exemplary KBC, Korean boneless chicken.
KBC, or Korean Boneless Chicken Wings
If you’re here for the main attraction, the menu does not disappoint. Prices are keen with most mains below £15, and starters below £10. Thanks to the presence of ex-Providores chef Karl Calvert, every dish – even those that may seem staid – is a surprising delight.
A top-notch squid comes with an ink mayonnaise; a Dingley Dell pork chop is accompanied by pineapple that makes this often lacklustre dish seem fresh and lovely again; and helpings of gorgonzola on a risotto reinvigorate an old warhorse.
This isn’t fine dining, and shouldn’t be regarded as such. But it’s really heartening to see that a North London pub can still come up with something innovative and delicious without bank-breaking prices. We’ll definitely be back when we’re next in NW8.
|What||The Clifton, St John's Wood|
|Where||The Clifton, 96 Clifton Hill, NW8 0JT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||St. John's Wood (underground)|
01 May 17 – 01 May 18, ALL-DAY DINING
|Website||Click here for more information|