The Clifton has recently re-opened in St John’s Wood after sitting empty for over three years. Serving food, gin and tonics (and other alcoholic beverages) with a weekly Monday quiz night, it is a lovely place to unwind with friends and family.
The venue is in a quiet residential area. My friend and I arrived separately and we both had a moment of thinking we’d made a wrong turning. There tables with umbrellas outside will help to identify the pub. Built in 1846, the premise quickly became a pub. It even has some connection with royalty, with Edward VII reportedly conducting his affair with the actress Lillie Langtry in the rooms above the premise.The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable. As a young woman, I’d feel comfortable sitting here having a meal and drink on my own.
For entree, we had the Truffle Mac ‘N’ Cheese Croquettes (plate of 3 for £3.50). There is no other word to describe these except scrumptious! Other entrée options include squid, salmon, liver pate and salads. The tomato, grilled blood nectarine, burrata and purple basil salad sounds enticing.
For mains, the line caught cod with roast cauliflower puree, girolles (mushrooms) and crisp sage (£14.50) with a side dish of new potatoes was a delicious, healthy, good size meal. The monkfish with new potatoes (£15.50) was also delicious though the accompanying rainbow chard with crab chilli aioli was not to our taste. For those who don’t want fish there was also the option of roast chicken, a pork dish or vegetarian risotto.
The chocolate brownie with salted caramel and vanilla ice-cream was a heavenly treat. The cheese board and summer Eton mess also sound delightful It is evident that the menus focus on fresh, seasonal and sustainable produce, and as such the venues may vary from week to week.
The Clifton has a good list of house gin and tonics. Brockman’s premium gin (40%,£9.60) is a delicate and smooth gin made of a unique blend of flavours with hints of berry. Served with grapefruit and blueberry tonic it was very enjoyable. Xoriguer Mahon gin (38%, £8) from Menorca was served with lemon and rosemary tonic water and also went down well. Our new favourite gin is Bobby’s Schiedam dry gin (42%, £12.20), a Dutch gin with Indonesia botanicals and spices. Bobby’s combines the flavours of East and West- juniper, rosehip, cloves, lemongrass and cubed pepper to create a fresh, fragrant and spicy gin. The gin was beautiful on its own. Served with orange and cloves tonic it was extremely refreshing.
With food in our bellies and drinks in hands (and our confidence bolstered with liquid luck), we felt we should show off our skills in the quiz. With four rounds of 10 questions, the quiz was an appropriate length and covered a range of topics such as history, geography, sports, music, maths and general knowledge. It was fun, challenging and engaging. The host was charismatic and took pride in his work. We enjoyed it even more when we were the only ones in the pub who got an answer to a question right about Australia, our home country (Go Go Aussies)! There £2 fee per person to cover quiz costs, so please ensure you have some change.
In fact, we enjoyed the food, drinks, atmosphere and quiz so much that we went back the following week with two more friends. This time we had the Dingley Dell confit pork belly with pineapple and chilli puree and red peppers (£15.50), Korean boneless chicken (£5.50) and the pea, broad bean, gorgonzola, crisp shallots and parmesan risotto (£10.50) which by all accounts were tasty. We also had our favourite dish again, the Truffle Mac ‘N’ Cheese Croquettes and I think these will become our standing order.
The Clifton is fast becoming a favourite of ours. Indeed, we plan on going back for the third week in a row with yet more people to test our knowledge in the weekly Monday night quiz commencing at 8pm, and we are hoping to attend regularly.
We hope to see you at The Clifton for some food, gin and tonics or simply to test your knowledge in the weekly quiz (Mondays 8pm).
For more information go to the website at thecliftonnw8.com or follow them on Twitter at @thecliftonnw8.
Location: 96 Clifton Hill, London NW8 0JT
Written by Caitlin Neal