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An old Kentish Town pub now under the management of the people behind the Grafton Arms.
The upper end of Malden Road is an in-between-land: not Kentish Town, not Gospel Oak, certainly not Belsize Park or South End Green. A pub has occupied the site of the Gipsy Queen (under different names) since the mid-nineteenth century, and some of its recent changes may reflect the neighbourhood’s uncertainties. Originally a local boozer, it acquired a dodgy reputation and closed down, then reopened as a craft beer specialist. Now it’s been reopened again (under its original name) by the people behind the Grafton Arms in nearby Prince of Wales Road.
The GQ resembles many a pub refurb: dark wood, sleek industrial lighting, and most notably some truly gorgeous Victorian floorboards. A beer garden at the back makes a pleasant place for a pint, though the seating could be more comfortable.
The drinks list lays heavier emphasis on keg beer than cask, with a trio from Camden Brewery (of course) and the unfiltered Purity Lawless lager from Warwickshire among the taps. Pint prices range from £4.20 to £5, bottle prices from £4 to £5.50, though worryingly the highest price is asked for the niche-y Rekorderlig fruit ciders from Sweden.
The Grafton distinguishes itself with its excellent food, and we expected something similar from the GQ. It tries, but hadn’t figured everything out when we visited ten days after it reopened. Six days a week the cooking is pretty ambitious (apart from bar snacks), and hints of that ambition at Sunday lunch ranged from very good to thrilling. A simple tomato salad (£4) featured ‘heritage’ tomatoes that made you realise there’s more to the H-word than a warm glow of worthiness. But the price/portion ratio needs examination: in NW5, £8.50 for a tiny serving of smoked ox tongue doesn’t look right.
More seriously, the Sunday roasts (from £11) were just about adequate and nothing more. The target clientele will be looking for awesome, not adequate.
The problems we encountered are fixable problems. The people at the Grafton know what it takes to run a top-tier local. We’re rooting for them here. In-between-land needs a local of royal quality; this could be it.
166 Malden Rd
|Transport:||Gospel Oak overground.|
|Opening hours:||Mon 5-11pm; Tue-Thur noon-11pm; Fri-Sat noon-12.30am; Sun noon-11pm|
|Do you own this business?|