Property prices in London mean that unless my West London sojourns lead to a Champagne-fridge-buying sugar daddy sharpish, then I’m going to be renting until the grim reaper comes knocking. While this is a somewhat depressing thought that doesn't mean London can't be 'homely'; step one from the ‘How An Impoverished Millennial Should Continue A Middle Class Life In London’ guide book is to find yourself a cosy pub and treat it as your second place. Welcome to Ealing Park Tavern, my new home away from home.
The Venue and Atmosphere
Every aspiring second wifey knows that a holiday home needs to be equal parts lavish and homely - we’re in safe hands at Ealing Park Tavern as it is an ETM venue, the same boys behind delectable city joint The Jugged Hare and sky high Aviary (set to be a serious hot spot this summer). Sat grandly on a South Ealing street, the tavern is a taste of countryside cute in the city, looking like its jumped from a twee village into this West London suburb.
Is it possible to be in love with a property? Heck, I’ve been in love with worse, Ealing Park Tavern reminds me of a grand old house, the wood-panelled bar is decorated with various taxidermy including two vexed looking moose heads. Squidgy leather armchairs surround fireplaces and snug alcoves look out onto a park - it's all so cosy that I’m tempted to kick the other diners out and wander the place in my pyjamas.
Sunday lunch is generally served in the dining room, a stately space that is dominated by two colossal chandeliers that look like they may have been pinched from a Russian oligarch’s house. An open kitchen is artfully framed by a metal grid and groups of families and friends fan round tables for a Sunday catch-up.
The Food & Drink
As is written in British law, it is a Sunday, I am in a pub and must therefore have a roast. ETM venues have garnered a reputation for British sourced foods, unusual cuts of meat and seasonal produce, all of which extends to Ealing Park Tavern's menu. The gastro-pub earnt itself a spot in the Michelin pub guide, and with a traditional menu turned on its head, this is far more than the average pubgrub.
Starters are gastro-takes on old favourites; the soup is split pea and ham infused with the pub's own-brewed Birdy Flipper beer. The Yorkshire rabbit terrine (£7) came with pickled carrots which added a sharp flavour to the smoky dish. The restaurant takes Sunday lunch as seriously as the cast of Hollyoaks take an episode - very bloody seriously indeed. As well as the weekly norms of 45-day-aged Cumbrian Shorthorn beef (£16.50) and half or whole Suffolk chicken (£16/£32), a whole Tamworth suckling pig had been roasted, from the snout right down to the tip of the tail. It was then chopped up and sold in parts, meaning little goes to waste, not even the pig’s head (£16) which was served nose, ears and teeth attached on my plate.
If you’re even slightly squeamish about meat, don’t order a pig’s head. Fortunately, I am not and delved straight into cutting up the jawbones and ears with aplomb; though wonderfully cooked, I overestimated my skills at butchery and found it rather fiddly. Regardless of which meat you choose, Ealing Park Tavern’s roast is a journey, filled along the way with mounds of roasted green veg, hills of chunky stewed apples, pools of creamy cauliflower cheese and mountains of duck fat roasted potatoes.
ETM are so confident in their abilities they don't stop with cooking you a slap-up dinner, they also brew the pub's beer next door at Long Arm brewery which is open for tours and tastings. On top of that, the company have expanded their portfolio to wine-making in Languedoc with the help of a local winemaker, the bottle we had at dinner was a delicious deep red made with a blend of Merlot, Grenache noir and Cinsault.
Ealing Park Tavern is in the Miss Universe category of gastro-pub pageantry; it smacks of the smart country, like a wealthy landowner that doesn’t need to shout. Interiors might hint of an old English pub but stand-out pieces crank it up a level to swanky hangout; food is imaginative and delicious and the most countryside part of it all? There's not a hint of pretension or unwelcome.