Ale & hearty: Elm Park Tavern review

Simon Still pops along to the revamped Elm Park Tavern

Once upon a time, there would have been one of these on many of our residential street corners. The Elm Park Tavern, or EPT to save time is, and has been for a good while, one of Brixton’s “off-road” public houses that has stayed a proper pub.

Where a man and his dog can still have a cosy old fashioned pint. A long (long) time ago it was a pretty rudimentary affair but we last wrote about it in 2015 and thought there should be some food on offer.

Things move pretty fast in modern day Brixton, even this far up the hill, and another revamp has seen the interior completely redone and a kitchen added.

You could miss the changes if you’d not been in for a while. A pretty traditional pub fitout has been replaced by a pretty traditional pub fitout. There’s a tiled back to the bar, dark blue wood panelled walls and filament lighting. The old sofas may be gone but the furniture remains classically shabby chic.

It was good to see the local faces (and their local dogs) still have a happy home here. They have a decent choice from 22 keg and cask beers.

On the face of it, the traditional approach extends to the menu but chef Greg is happily augmenting classic pub cum gastro pub grub with tricks and techniques from more up-town joints than this.

Sunday roasts included a garlic-studded shoulder of lamb for four people to carve at the table and a whole chicken for two. Beef rump had been cooked sous vide leaving it tender and perfectly pink throughout with the outer edge seared black. Crisp potatoes and fresh veg completed the plates. Our table of 12 left full and happy.

Returning mid-week, the kitchen delivered again. Bavette is a cut of steak more common in France and it can be tough and chewy if cooked more or less anything other than perfectly. Here it was well seasoned, tender and delivered, for me, much more flavour than rump or sirloin.

The vegetarian in our party was pleased to have three options from the six main courses and opted for the arrancini. On cutting open the deep fried risotto balls to find little parcels of melted cheese, any fears that the taleggio would be too overpowering were unfounded.

Battered fish was light, skin-on chips were chunky and crisp and the EPT’s take on a burger is an extremely decent one. This is solid, rustic comfort food, with good ingredients treated well.

Being a free house there’s a wide selection of beers, including their own “Little Hopster” pale ale and guests from local breweries.

Prices are keen – starters around £5, mains £10-16, ales from £3.80, lagers from £4.30.

76 Elm Park, SW2 2UB | | 020 8671 9823 | @elmParkTavern