There’s no name sign (yet), but the candlelit interior – complete with artsy standard lamp, showcased through plate-glass windows – lures you inside. Lantern’s a cosy neighbourhood place: part wine bar, part bistro, simply but thoughtfully decorated with blackboard-paint walls, bare floorboards, Ercol chairs, all low-lit. The high-ceilinged room has a small mezzanine level if you’d prefer to not be on display to passers-by.
The menu’s brief. Nine dishes were chalked on the walls on our visit, but it was unclear how big the portions were. We were disappointed by our hanger steak (onglet, £9), which was barely a few starter-sized morsels of beef in salad.
Yet the other dishes were generous: the pork terrine served in a ramekin, for example, or ‘Camille’s daily soup’, in this case a very rich but gently spiced roasted pumpkin purée,topped with flaked almond.
While most dishes are generically European in origin, ‘braised tofu and curly kale’ was a simple stew which, Camille told us, was African in origin – though it tasted like hippy food to us. Desserts include chocolate chip cookies that are baked to order, or crème brûlée.
The drinks list has some decent wines by the glass, Alhambra beer in pretty embossed bottles, and coffee that was freshly-ground to order. But for most people, it will be the cosy atmosphere, and – if you live in this chi-chi part of Haverstock Hill – handy location that are the main draws. It serves brunch at the weekends, too.