Approaching the navy blue exterior, comfortably perched upon a corner of this busy high street and emblazoned in huge gold lettering, it rapidly became clear that Earl Derby has already left its mark on the gastropub scene of North London.
Spread across three tiers, this is a spacious pub. At no point though, does one begin to feel lost; this is comfortable eating and drinking space that manages to retain its quirks without imposition. Subtle oddities can be spotted throughout – the taxidermy deer head mounted proudly upon the wall, and the charming array of wooden school chairs, evoking age old memories of assemblies and school refectories. Most impressive perhaps is the ceiling, a quality that most pubs would not be able to boast: the coving has been most intricately carved, glossed over with a jet black veneer, telling its own story as to the history of the building. Undeniably modern but with unquestionable warmth, Earl Derby charms upon first glance.
The Ambience and Clientele
The pub was a little quiet, although a midweek dinner and drinks would hardly run the risk of impossibility; nevertheless, Earl Derby retained its charm and style throughout our visit. Candles were lit to signal the onset of evening, and come 9pm, the bar had livened up welcoming patrons of every ilk. We were given time to reflect upon the menu and drinks list, without any pressure to order; whilst the space was certainly appreciated, we did wait a little longer than you'd like.
The Food and Drinks
Any qualms regarding the service were forgotten once we were presented with our starters. Opting for the tomato soup, admittedly a safe choice, there was no room for disappointment: it was rich and full of flavour, complemented with a refreshing swirl of crème fraîche and a perfectly crisp bottle of Pinot Grigio. My partner was served a plate of ‘battered white bait’, but after an initial sceptism, he went in and thoroughly enjoyed what lay before him.
The main course saw a huge bowl of Gnocchi, partnered with asparagus, peas, broad beans, spinach and paris brown mushrooms, opposite a hearty looking plate of Gloucester old spot sausages and mash with red wine gravy. The gnocchi was slightly overcooked, but tasty nonetheless, and the sausages were a fine choice, sided with creamy mashed potato and rich red wine gravy. We sweetened the palate with a shared salted caramel chocolate tart, washed down with a pint of Camden Hells beer each.
Perched upon a corner of Kilburn High Road, Earl Derby retains a quiet confidence. Undeniably charming and with a lot of potential, there is no doubt that once it has ironed out a few of its initial creases, this North London pub will come to exists as a failsafe choice for drinks and a spot of supper throughout the week.