The Horseshoe, Hampstead

Please note that this review is from January 6, 2018 and may be out of date...restaurants sometimes get better, get worse, employ a new chef or end up with new management.

This week I went to The Horseshoe in Hampstead. There is a simple function to decide whether I go for a roast dinner or not:

if (day === Sunday && location === London) {

return true;

} else {

return false;


Any sensible person would have added a little more complexity like if month == 12 and date == 31, do not be so stupid.

Alas, I went for a roast dinner on New Year’s Eve and now I’m sat here 48/72/96/… hours later trying to remember what happened. Keep your expectations of humour and general linguistic quality to a minimum. This is going to be hard work for me.

The first North London place that the random number generator picked was The Horseshoe in Hampstead. I wasn’t expecting everywhere to be open on NYE, let alone doing a normal Sunday roast menu, so decided to e-mail in advance to find out. Alas, it appears that they don’t check their e-mails – I had to get my temporary secretary to call them.

They did thankfully do roast dinners on NYE. Beef, pork and chicken were on the menu – though the chicken wasn’t really a roast dinner. I ordered the pork – persuaded by the offer of both stuffing and crackling, at a price of £18.00 (beef was £19.50). I tried complimenting the waitress into allowing a Yorkshire pudding to be added too – though previously accusing her of being an Aussie was never going to help my cause.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2018

The Horseshoe seemed to be more of a restaurant than a pub – the kitchen was open to view as seems to be the modern way – won’t be long before even Wetherspoons let you see into their microwaving room. It was bright and airy with white walls, yet had a somewhat cosy feel to it. The beers were provided by the Camden brewery – not the world’s most extensive list of drinks but what kind of pillock would want a Jagerbomb with a roast dinner? Erm…

It took a good 30 minutes or so for dinner to arrive. A rough rule of thumb does suggest that the shorter a wait for a roast, the least fresh it will be, and it did look good on arrival. Alas, either the chef thought I was a twat or the waitress thought I was a sleazebag, and I did not get my requested Yorkshire pudding. If you don’t ask…

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2018

We did get free bread though. Free bread! Well, free as in I’m sure that it was included within the price we paid as opposed to just being some random act of generosity, but it was a pleasant added touch, with gloriously-salty butter (not to be sniffed at given butter price inflation over the last year…though there are better things to sniff than butter – and I ain’t talking arse…imo). There did seem to be a member of staff constantly slicing bread. “Hi, what do you do for a living?”. “I slice bread, would you like to have sex with me?”.

So what was on the plate other than pork? Good question. There must have been carrots. Let me check the photograph…

Yes, The Horseshoe served carrots. The carrots were perfectly fine. Look, I have problems at the best of times thinking of something to say about carrots. Let’s just say that there were a handful of carrots, probably roasted, with no afflictions.

Parsnips. I think. Yes, we had parsnips. Can I just move onto the score now? OK, they were slightly sweeter than normal and a moderately-sized handful. Roasted again.

We must have had some more vegetables…

One thing I definitely remember are the roast potatoes. And why? Because they were actually roasted! Actual proper crispy roast potatoes, fairly large in size (not as good as my own but that’d be like comparing your free-kick taking abilities to David Beckham…or just comparing my free-kick taking abilities to my mother’s) – improvable but some of the best we’ve had all year.

I’m not the only one suffering memory issues as the chef forgot to provide us with the promised stuffing. Somehow I remembered during the meal and over came a slice each of stuffing. Not just any old stuffing, but apricot-filled stuffing…not that I am keen on mixing fruit with savoury, but personal tastes aside this was a very nice piece of imaginative stuffing. Being a simple northerner I’d prefer plain old sage and onion, but hey.

The crackling was of the dry, crunchy variety – not so tough that a trip to Thailand is required (or a long wait for an NHS dentist), but not quite as succulently enjoyable as it could have been.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2018

The pork was very nice. Thinly sliced and arguably there could have been a little more of it (or a Yorkshire pudding), but it was delicately balanced (yeah no idea what I mean either – just taking up some space it looks like I remembered something), succulent and tasty. Pork shoulder at a vaguely uneducated guess.

Kale. That’s what I was missing. How could I forget kale. Is that a statement? Or a question. I think it was kale anyway – wispy, yet slightly crunchy greenery – always a welcome treat, especially when the gravy is good.

Well. Jus. Not gravy. Yet it wasn’t the thinnest of juss/jus’/jus’s/juses/ju’s/jews HITLER…damn must tackle the inner Ken Livingstone in me. Where was I? Oh yeah. Some jus’s…anti-gravy’s…anti-gravies, sometimes when a restaurant does jus instead of gravy, it can be less viscose than water, which always seems a little improbable scientifically. This wasn’t – clearly being a northerner, this does not class as gravy, but judging on merit, the jus was not offensive – it was quite powerful, red wine based, yet didn’t detract at all from the flavours elsewhere in the meal. A jus done well. Shut it, Ken.

One of my accomplices had the beef – which was rare and highly rated. I’d say the pork was marginally nicer. My accomplice’s Yorkshire pudding was fluffy and had risen approvingly.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2018

Overall The Horseshoe was a pleasant experience. Yes, there was a ****ing 12.5% service charge. But it wasn’t totally out of step with the experience, our waitress was always available, service was pleasant – she even made the odd beverage recommendation. I still begrudge being told to pay a “voluntary” 12.5% service charge – but a voluntary tip wouldn’t have been far off the amount charged so I’ll pause the moaning. No idea why I replaced the swear word with asterisks – this isn’t a new year’s resolution to be any less offensive. Honey.

I could have done without the steep uphill walk on the way there from Finchley Road (although I could really do with lots of them to burn off a year’s worth of roast dinners). Cannot really blame them for the lack of funicular.

In fact, there was nothing to moan about at all…and boy I so love a moan. Everything was good, yet nothing was “oh my word you have to visit The Horseshoe”. A score around a solid 8 will suffice – nay, I’ll give it an 8.04 out of 10.

With the state of my parlous finances I’ll probably be back in February. Except I have plans for the next 4 Sundays. So I’ll be back in a week. Peckhamland. Unless I have stabbed someone from my post-NYE comedown.

I might even have the review ready by Monday/Tuesday. Yeah, I’m one of those Dry January Tossers.

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The Horseshoe, Hampstead

Station: Hampstead

Tube Lines: Northern

Fare Zone: Zone 2

Price: £18.00

Rating: 8.04

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: Actual proper crispy roast potatoes, decent pork belly too.

Loathed: Crackling too dry. Jus.

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