Highgrove cooking comes to Kennington at this boozer-turned-gastropub
The Prince of Wales, gawd bless his double-breasted suits, still owns a small chunk of Kennington as part of his Duchy of Cornwall estate – a mere 16 flats and 23 houses these days, since a sizeable share was sold off to a housing association in 1990. But the future king’s local influence remains strong, even down the pub on the corner of his manor: look around this faux-Georgian tavern, and you’ll find the Duchy’s coat of arms embossed into the leather seats.
Not that you’ll find cheeky chappy Prince Charlie pulling pints behind the bar. But what you will find – by coincidence – is HRH’s former private chef Visen Anenden in the kitchen. This local boozer changed hands in 2014; the new owners have kept the name and the better fittings, but turned it properly gastro, bringing a recognisable Windsor accent to proceedings. The organic beef, lamb and pork are all from Highgrove, while the fish and shellfish are from Cornish and Scottish day boats. Provenance and seasonality are paid more than lip service; the heir apparent would approve of their buying policies.
Potted brown shrimps were earthy little blighters, served with fried potato skins; braised pig’s cheeks were paired with a root vegetable mash, then topped with a disc of black pudding and mole sauce. No, not the burrowing British lawn-destroyer, but the Mexican chilli sauce – in this case, a mild one.
The simplest dishes tended to be the best: tender potato gnocchi with mushrooms and wild garlic worked, but the addition of charred globe artichokes did not improve things. Far better were cod cheeks on a bed of houmous, garnished with crumbs flavoured with grape molasses.
Although the cooking surpasses that of other Kennington restaurants, the DuchyArms remains a local pub first and foremost. A large family gathering was taking place in the front bar on our visit, forcing us into the back room. ‘Are you bitter?’ asked our waitress.‘Or lager?’ If bitter, the choices include London Pride or Cornish Betty Stogs on draught, though there are good bottled beers and wines by the glass too. Perfect for a pint, a chinwag or a good meal – don’t pass this Duchy by.
|Venue name:||The Duchy Arms||Contact:|
63 Sancroft Street
|Opening hours:||Bar open Mon-Fri 4pm-11pm, Sat-Sun noon-11pm; kitchen open for dinner Tues-Sat 6.30pm-9.45pm. Kitchen open for lunch Sat noon-3pm, Sun noon-4pm.|
|Transport:||Vauxhall or Kennington.|
|Price:||Meal for two with drinks and service: around £45|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
4.7 / 5
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I was lucky enough to get a chance to pop in to the Duchy Arms, when I was last up in Kennington. I had some of the most fabulous fillet of Highgrove House beef; traditionally hung, served seared and sliced, with some delightful baby new potatoes, crisp chicory leaves and a superb truffle dressing. Melt in the mouth. The chef Visen's Mauritian roots shone through in some of his more spicy dishes, too; we had some fabulously light yet crispy salt and pepper squid with a warming chilli sauce, as well as some buttermilk fried chicken, with a fantastically heady Chimichurri sauce, providing a fragrant and sharp flavour to cut through the crunchy skin on the chicken. Absolutely delicious on all counts.
I remember the fateful moment I discovered the Duchy Arms on a walk-a-bout around our new office. It sits on a triangular corner shockingly close to Kennington cross but somehow feeling quiet and neighbourly. A brilliant pub that echoes what small, high quality independent pubs used to feel like. Hospitable service and friendly demeanour is well appreciated. With great food and drinks and the magic feeling of just being on the right side of hidden away. I dig how local it feels and how it seems a bit like a secret. I actually hope more people in the Kennington area catch the hint and support this pub and keep it going forever. Check it out and enjoy.
Lovely new refurbished pub which does very good food, has a fine wine list and the nicest pint of London Pride around.
Amazing food! What a turnaround. I've visited a few times since it re-opened and it's consistently outstanding. Great new decor and layout too, and friendly staff. Deserves to do well - just a shame it often seems a bit quiet; hopefully that will change as word gets out.