The Prince of Wales in Brixton
Food at the Prince of Wales in Brixton is served in typical pub style – simply presented, with many familiar-looking carnivorous dishes on the menu, all served in generous portions within walking distance of the beer pumps. Yet somehow this is not a typical gastropub at all. While the staff are friendly and the food unmistakably wholesome, there is a level of finesse that seems slightly out of place in a South London watering hole. Chef Arno Maasdorp aims to create “intelligent comfort food” – a description that aptly describes the well-constructed menu.
With a total of nine starters diners are spoilt for choice – especially as they range from Courgette Ribbons and Feta with Preserved Lemon Dressing to more adventurous dishes such as Smoked Eel and Samphire Salad. Celeriac Veloute with White Truffle Oil is one such confident “larder” offering, with the truffle oil taking centre stage and transforming a simple warming soup into a luxurious dish. Duck Terrine with Pistachio, served with a sweet red onion relish, is well-balanced and light in texture. The chef’s training as a painter comes across in the Beef Carpaccio with Horseradish Roasted Beets, where the strong, meaty beef is matched perfectly with different layers of texture – sweet and warm roasted beetroot slices, small delicate mushrooms and the crunch of radishes and broccoli tops.
The shining star of the starters however was the Salted Cod Cakes with Pea Guacamole – a well-executed showcase of bite-sized cod cakes, crunchy on the outside while being soft, flaky and perfectly seasoned on the inside. Accompanied by a refreshing and minty guacamole to offset the intensity of the fish, the dish is light, flavoursome and is a playful nod to our love affair with British beach holidays.
Main courses are split up by category – Stove & Grill, Lake & Ocean (including the option of Sea Bass Ceviche), Pizzas (freshly prepared by hand and cooked in a fiery wood-burning oven) or simply Plats du Jour for those feeling indecisive. My choice of Oxtail Paccheri with Pecorino Crumb did not disappoint. The chef manages to transform a familiar ingredient in oxtail into an adventurous dish via some sorcery with aromatic herbs – combining rosemary with hints of juniper and aromatic bay leaves – and silky smooth, handmade Paccheri pasta. The Chestnut Gnocchi with Kale & Wild Mushrooms (pictured) was another masterclass, turning humble ingredients into an opulent plate of food in the cuccina povera fashion. Al dente Gnocchi, delicious fresh and dried mushrooms and kale were combined in a sauce with just the right amount of richness. The only minor complaint here was the seasoning – slightly too salty and too much black pepper for our palates.
The desserts were a delightful end to the meal. The light and creamy Lemon Posset was layered under an almost fairytale-like Mint Meringue Snow. The Assiette au Chocolat with Pistachio Ice Cream was rich and decadent, with a local twist in the form of a white chocolate handgun – a satirical reminder that yes, you still are in Brixton.
Photos: Denise Lew
The Prince of Wales: 44/60
To book a table at The Prince of Wales, 467-469 Brixton Road London SW9 8HH, call 020 7733 8502 or visit here.