A firm favourite with Kensal Rise locals, the Chamberlayne is usually heaving with well-off thirtysomethings frequently sporting a dog/baby/toddler – and occasionally all three. It makes for a pleasantly lively atmosphere in the pub itself, where characterful décor (reclaimed furniture, designer lighting and the like) meets friendly service and an interesting drinks list starring some 20 whiskies as well as a strong selection of wines and cocktails.
But while the roaring volume feels apt in the bar, it makes for a distracting din in the snug dining room situated at the back. Efforts have been made to make this a serious dinner destination and the menu focuses on British beef, including rump steak, rib-eye, côte de boeuf and steak and kidney pie. It’s comfort food at its meatiest, and none more so come Sundays when the changing menu regularly features an Aberdeen Angus sirloin roast.
While the quality beef is juicy, perfectly cooked and well seasoned, it’s let down by its trimmings. There’s no gravy beyond the meat’s own juices, the Yorkshire pudding is neither light nor crispy and veg lacked variety, with a couple of lonely parsnip sticks among a sea of cabbage. The rotisserie chicken was also succulent and tasty, but again, was tainted by the trimmings.
It’s actually far safer to opt for weekday standards such as a generous chicken liver pâté starter or substantial Angus beef burger – though either way, you’ll have to be prepared to project your voice over the swimming pool-like clamour.