The Great British pub is under pressure with (according the CAMRA) 18 closing a week. It’s a great shame; a good local is an irreplaceable resource, but taxes, smoking bans and cheaper drink in supermarkets mean that many publicans can’t make ends meet. Happily, our nearest pub, the Curtains Up on Comeragh Road in Barons Court, seems to be doing very well, but to our shame, we haven’t been in ages. It offers food, drink and theatre in the cellar. H had recently visited The Clarence, Whitehall, also part of the Geronimo Inns Group. We went for supper, to find the place well filled – but most of the customers looked too young to be drinking, to our distressingly ageing eyes. It must be the next stage after thinking the policemen look young.
The restaurant area is to the back of the pub, in a high-ceilinged enclave. Tables are large and well spaced, so the dangers of having your conversation overheard by the neighbours is much reduced. (Of course, this does mean that you can’t earwig yourself. Takes with one hand, gives with the other. Life’s like that sometimes.)
The menu is straightforward; five starters (at about £6 each) and six main courses (between £9.50 and £16 for steak) of unfussy favourites, and as we were there on a Thursday night – burger night – a choice of four burgers, in addition to the usual beef, was listed on the blackboard. There was only one starter and one main course (plus the veggie burger) for vegetarians, which we thought was a little sparse.
We tried a chicken liver parfait – silky smooth, but possibly a little bland, and a chorizo and squid salad, slightly strangely served in a gratin dish with a handful of rocket on top. The squid and chorizo were good, but the presentation didn’t really work, as the heart of the dish was buried beneath the forest of greenery. The mixed leaves alongside the chicken was a much better idea. H enjoyed her fully loaded veal burger served in a brioche bun of perfect sweetness and softness , but I think that I won the round with seabass on green vegetables, with its crispy skin and balanced flavours. Wine ranges from £15 to £30 a bottle, handily split on the list into categories such as dry, fragrant whites or warm hearted reds, with many available by the glass.
Pudding was, sadly, a little bit of a disappointment. But then I find that pudding is frequently a disappointment; the demands of commercial cookery mean that its often feels like an afterthought. Our pear and almond tart didn’t quite hit the target, but I did like the Horlicks ice cream.
Service was swift and friendly, but admittedly the staff were aware that we were reviewing. Our bill totalled £75 for two, with starters, main courses, one shared pudding between the two of us, and one bottle of wine at £24.
We’ll have to go back soon. It’s a lively spot for pint, and handy to have somewhere nearby that can give reliable food for a reasonable price, especially their Thursday burger nights. I’m not sure that it would merit a trip across London, unless you lose the vote about where to go, and don’t want to sit at home being Billy No Mates.
Fuss Free Flavours was the guest of The Curtains Up. Thank you for an enjoyable meal.
THE CURTAINS UP
28a Comeragh Road, Barons Court,
London, W14 9HR
020 7386 7543