Places To Eat In London: The Gladstone Arms, Borough
I’ve got an absolute gem of a pub for you today, just around the corner from Borough tube station that just so happens to also be one of my locals: the newly re-furbished and re-opened under new ownership (after a battle to save the historic building from development): The Gladstone Arms. It literally has everything you’d want from a local city pub (as opposed to country pubs, where I look for totally different things): good food, delicious small sharing plates, a selection of good, independent, local beers on tap, delicious cocktails, live music in the evenings, and a roof terrace set to open over the next few weeks just in time for summer.
While they do a great value lunch special, a house burger and pies, in my view it is the sharing plates you need to go for, so grab a couple of friends. We got to sample a good amount of dishes between the three of us; everything comes in a small or large size, and we ate well with 6 small plates between us at lunchtime, though we could have easily had more. While you’re waiting for everyone to arrive, prop up the bar with one of their delicious cocktails: while I was a fan of the slightly tropical Pickwick Papers (I’m a sucker for anything with a literary theme) when I first visited, my firm favourite is now the Funky Drummer, raspberry and hibiscus syrup, boozed up with gin and topped up with prosecco, garnished with a pretty edible flower.
It was unanimous that (and that I would order it every single time I went back for as long as it is on the menu – all of the ingredients are sourced down the road at Borough Market, so are therefore very seasonal) the best thing on the menu is the Japanese-inspired Chicken Kara-age: tender fried chicken, doused in a sticky, mouthwatering sauce, served on skewers with roasted peppers and onions. The flavours were perfect.
Next, the calamari arrived at the table, crisp, tender, not fatty at all (my number one pet peeve when it comes to calamari), tossed in lemon sea salt, pink peppercorn, spring onions and chilli, served with a lime wedge, giving it a bit of an Asian feel. One to go with a nice cold beer in the sunshine.
I’m not a lamb person, but I tried one of the lamb meatballs served in a smoky barbecue sauce and just a little hit of chive, and they were as good as you’d expect them to be based on the food we’d had so far. They’re part of the lunch special, so perhaps something to stop in for if you work nearby.
Obviously when you’re having a canapé you need more drinks, so I had another Funky Drummer, and their house cocktail, a Gladstone (whiskey based) arrived in time for the mushroom pate vol-au-vents. A bit retro, but still delicious, with fresh, flaky puff pastry, a bit more of an elegant snack to go with a glass of prosecco.
Finally one for my companions rather than me (on account of all of that cheese!): Guapa garlic bread, topped with manchego cheese. While it looks excellent in the photos, they indicated to me it should be a bit of a miss: a bit too oily as garlic breads go, especially in the cheesy bit.
I loved the seasonal food and cocktails at The Gladstone Arms, and you’ll probably be sure to find me up on their roof once it opens at the weekends when I need to get out of the flat to soak up some sunshine! I also can’t wait to see how both the cocktail and food menus evolve as we get properly into the summer, and then tail off into autumn.