Why not pay this brand new place a Neighbourly call?
This stylish, revamped site in Kentish Town offers tempting dishes from around Europe
04 August, 2017 — By Tom Moggach
Neighbour in Kentish Town – a large venue with 50 covers and an outdoor terrace
When did Kentish Town get trendy? Gentrification is an ugly word and gradual process – it’s impossible to pin down an exact date when it all began. But NW5 has changed lightning fast, not least in the cascade of new bars and restaurants.
Back in 2010, Kentish Canteen was the trailblazer – serving fashionable food and underground cocktails at 300 Kentish Town Road, a few doors up from the tube station.
Four years later, Joe’s Southern Table and Bar took its place, an outpost of a Covent Garden restaurant selling fried chicken and mac ’n’ cheese.
Now it’s the turn of Neighbour, a brand new bar and restaurant from Urban Pubs and Bars, a company with around a dozen lively pubs across London. They have revamped the site in some style and at considerable expense.
If you don’t know the address, this is a large venue with 50 covers and an outdoor terrace. There’s a basement, too – now Juke’s cocktail bar – booths under low brick arches, all dark wood and red neon. The ground-floor dining room is impressive. Gawp at gigantic copper tanks above the bar, dispensing craft beer from Truman’s Brewery in Stratford. There’s lots of bare brick, designer lighting and a blast of deep blue from banquette seating and glazed wall tiles.
The food menu, divided into small plates and mains, defies easy categorisation – it’s a tempting hodgepodge of dishes from around Europe, with plenty of meat and fish.
The brunch menu includes eggs Benedict, crushed avocado on sourdough and similar staples. Later on, expect oysters, smoked almonds, crab linguine, chunky steaks or a retro chicken Kiev. Two of the six main dishes are vegetarian: a mixed grain salad (which I ordered), and mushroom and celeriac in filo pastry with squash, spinach and a porcini mushroom sauce.
My dinner was decent, if not sensational. Best was a subtle and adventurous creation of hand-chopped cured beef with capers, pickled cucumber and anchovy sauce (a small plate; £9.50).
The clever, unadvertised addition of crunchy croutons revealed a chef who’s nailed the importance of texture.
I slurped a bowl of clams and mussels (also £9.50), then enjoyed a main of mixed grain salad with charred broccoli, roast carrots, pomegranate and yoghurt (£12.50).
Overall, the food is good quality and a reasonable price. There were a few minor flaws. My aioli with the shellfish was over salted, for example; a kale and harissa side dish too oily. But details like this will hopefully get ironed out swiftly.
The wine list deserves special mention, with plenty by the glass (starting at £5) and interesting choices such as a sparkling red Lambrusco or an unfiltered Grüner-Veltliner.
The challenge for Neighbour will be bums on seats. In a neighbourhood like this, how do you turn the rush of curious, first-time customers into reliable regulars?
“We’re not looking to come in and be the shiny new kid on the block,” explains Nathan, the friendly manager. “We’re called Neighbour. We didn’t chance upon that name.”
300 Kentish Town Road, NW5
020 8161 0330