Time Out says
An age-old Hampstead pub with a new lease of life.
Sure, Hampstead has its fair share of loveable old hostelries, but The Duke of Hamilton – a 300-year-old pub – has an unusual recent history, too. Back in 2015, its landlord barred some 800 members of community group Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum after their successful campaign to make the pub an Asset of Community Value against his wishes. Those locals are now being welcomed back with open arms, with the pub under new ownership.
It seems the new managers – local brothers Ed and Ben Robson, who also run The Clifton in St John’s Wood, and their friend Adam Gostyn – are looking to the pub’s distant history, rather than its recent strife. They play up the historic pub name, with a story about a duelling duke used in fresh decorative elements. But while a renovation also hams up the best of its old features – including an original bar – a dusky green-grey colour scheme gives the room a cold feel, especially when teamed with old wooden furniture, and not a cosy sofa in sight. The new look seems to have dining first in mind, drinking second.
Luckily, the food is more than up to standard. We stopped by on a Sunday, when the pub was heaving with families and friends, and I made light work of a bountiful roast. Draught beer comes from the nearby Camden Town Brewery and, more further afield, The Kernel and Four Pure. A range of exotic gins came with tailored tonic pairings, while wines (not all with Hampstead price tags) mostly hail from Europe, a full-bodied albariño working wonders.
Still buried beneath the pub is Hampstead Jazz Club – another serious community asset. No wonder the locals have reconnected with The Duke so swiftly. His duelling days are far behind him.
23-25 New End
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