Is my presence unsettling him? Or are launch night nerves and Red Bull making Lawrence Merrett, co-owner of new Clapham Junction haunt, The...
Sunday, 27 October 2013
The Earl Derby, Kilburn
As they say in Latin, "Cave decor dullicus! "
It's fair to say Kilburn High Road is a thoroughly grim thoroughfare. Being marched away from lovely Londinium along this chronically clogged artery - know as Watling Street in Roman times - must have depressed Caesar's legionnaires only marginally less than realising they were bound for Miltonus Keynicum and other naffissimae points North. Is it any wonder the street is so peppered with boozers, fonts at which to fortify sagging spirits? New among them, is the Earl Derby. Previously the not-so Golden Egg, this local landmark, a solid 19th century roadhouse, has now been returned to its original name and has been totally overhauled. Modish(-ish) design ticks - cliched stag head and tacky glass chandeliers - hang together awkwardly under high ceilings painted jet black paint. Fake vines trail across the back bar - presumably to remind Roman generals of the bucolic joys of their estates in Latium - and the huge fireplace will host no working fire says the pub's manager. Why? Lest the generals have Kilburn crones accused of infecting the troops with clappicus incurabilis burned alive? At the ED, you’ll find English cask ales, Californian, Bavarian and Czech beers, and fancy bottles from Belgium, Mexico and Italy. Curiously, what you won’t find - slap bang in the heart of Kilburn -is a pint of Guinness. As a new army - the M and S £10 Dine-in for Two tribe - colonises this gritty North London faubourg, it seems the luck of the Irish has finally run out. Food is a fairly predictable please-all mix. There's gnocchi for Latin conquerors, cod and chips, pies, sarnies, and sausage and mash for woad-daubed locals, and roast lunch is available on Sunday should you ever venture out Kilburn way for some unforeseeable reason. For around the same price as a meal and a bottle of vino, an Easyjet flight home to Rome may have more appeal to Antonius, Alexandrus Attilius et al.