During the autumn of 2011, a sandwich board outside The Hill was displayed which read read ‘Five stars, Time Out’ – but with a tiny footnote below the stars reading ‘Time Out user review’.
We followed this up, and found out that two website users, who had declined to give their names, had indeed both given it five stars. So we sent our own reviewers to see what, exactly, had got those two anonymous raters so excited.
The Hill used to be a local boozer, and underwent a change of ownership and management in the spring of 2011. It is simply furnished in cream tones with bentwood chairs, keeping the original character of the historic pub building intact.
The Hill claims to be more of a brasserie and bar than a pub. The choice of beers confirms this, with only one real ale – Deuchars IPA – on tap. There’s also a brief cocktail list (£7-£11 mostly), and a much wider wine selection that is pitched at the middlebrow wine drinker.
The food offer is now far better than many pubs in the area provide, yet it’s hardly fine gastropub fare of the standard that is now not uncommon in this part of London. The menu draws inspiration from North American diners, and is of only modest ambition – salads, soup of the day, grills, sandwiches, and crowd-pleasing desserts such as cheesecake or brownie. It’s a menu that wouldn’t look out of place in Anywhereville, circa 1980s.
Prices tend to be on the high side, with the more expensive of two burger and chips options (cheese, bacon, onion ring) costing £13.50. A cheap and bready bun held a beef patty that was slightly on the rubbery side; the skinny chips were standard fare.
Although this level of burger is perfectly adequate, it simply doesn’t compare with the quality at, for example, the nearby Gourmet Burger Kitchen – where a cheese and bacon burger costs £8.65, and even with the most expensive chips (£3.35) still works out cheaper than The Hill’s alternative.
This isn’t a bad neighbourhood brasserie, but it’s just not a destination restaurant, and is unlikely to be awarded a perfect five out of five stars from many customers. On our visit the highlight was the chirpy waitress, who did her best to create a welcome despite being the sole member of staff, singlehandedly working the bar, tills, tables and phone.