Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Princess Victoria, Shepherd's Bush

Shepherd's Bush is a bit of a culinary wasteland. Full of mainly chain restaurants, it's not somewhere I would go for a meal. It seems to be more concentrated on shopping and live music - food doesn't really get a look in, for those serious about it. So in a forest of EAT, Yo! Sushi and GBKs, I was surprised to discover that somewhere worth going to actually exists.

I was actually in Shepherd's Bush by accident. I'd been to a house party the night before and I'd stayed there out of sheer laziness. I woke up with a hangover and a few of us decided to go to for brunch/lunch. What fresh hell, I wondered, would this visit bring me? I didn't know anywhere in Shepherd's Bush worth eating in. The previous time I'd been to Shepherd's Bush for a gig, I ended up going to Wagamama in Westfield for some oh-so-hip but mediocre ramen on the insistence of a visiting friend (ever find that when friends visit the [eating] capital, they get most excited about going to Nando's or Frankie & Benny's over somewhere new? Not that I have anything against chains but going all the way to London and only eating in that kind of place is limited and a little boring). So I was not particularly excited about this visit, surrounded by Chicken Cottage and the like.

After walking past a number of Aussie-themed pubs and unremarkable chicken places, we ended up at The Princess Victoria. It is one of those pubs where you can have a very nice time. It consists of a large room at the front and a dining room at the back. The waiter attempted to dissuade us from sitting in the busy pub bit (after a little pushing, we discovered he was trying to fill up the empty dining room and clear the pub for football supporters. Nice try). We waited for our friends to arrive and although they offered us their own brand of still or sparkling water (free of charge, tick) and a basket of bread (also free of charge for the initial one), they didn't seem to want to take a proper drinks order until said friends arrived twenty minutes later, how ever much flagging down we tried. Were they not trying to sell us things here!?

I ordered a couple of starters because they looked more interesting than the main courses (more often than not, that's the case). To start, a beef tea (which is basically a beef broth), with chanterelles, bone marrow dumplings and truffle oil, which kind of looked like something resembling the mock turtle soup from The Fat Duck. It was refreshing and meaty but I couldn't taste the gratuitous truffle oil. It didn't detract from the dish particularly. Also, it wasn't another 'carrot and coriander' soup - something a little more adventurous. So much of what makes up a pub menu is often a crowd-pleaser. Then, some dressed crab with paper-thin slices of toast - a fairly generous amount, though erring on over-subtle taste.

Also on the table were a half-pint of unpeeled prawns with lemon mayo, crispy deep-fried whitebait and not-particularly-smoky taramasalata on toast which were all perfectly pleasant and and exactly what you would expect, but the true star was a magnificent Scotch egg which was , which I'm still berating myself for not ordering.

It was about £20 each for a main course and one (non-alcoholic) drink - pretty average for the area, although as with all gastropubs, prices would rise swiftly adding on extras and drinks.

It's about a 10-minute walk from Shepherd's Bush Market station and about 15 minutes longer than that from Shepherd's Bush main station but it's a 'gastropub' I would probably travel to Shepherd's Bush for - it's interesting, a great room and there's not a pieminister pie in sight.

Square Meal

Princess Victoria on Urbanspoon

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