Honest and charming, The Mall Tavern is a local pub that welcomes all its guests with a warm embrace. Built into the very foundations of Notting Hill, its traditional garb and alluring glow is exactly the sort of thing you look for on a cold night in December. With a cosy atmosphere and a crowd-pleasing menu of traditional food, it's clear the team at the helm hope to offer the ultimate pub experience. In truth, they aren't far off.
The Mall Tavern is strictly traditional in its decor. The whole pub is drenched in deep mahogany shades, from the wooden floors to the aged bar. In contrast, the venue's walls provide that little bit of edge that every pub needs to succeed and thrive in London. While one side is completely covered in white bathroom tiles, the other wall has purposely been left bare, with various cracks and chips helping to bring the exposed cement face to life. The various aspects are all tied together by the pub's atmosphere. Feeling like a low-lying cloud, the smell of the delicious gastro-pub food and sound of laughter creates a homely environment capable of rivalling any. Few venues are able to pull you in so quickly.
Food & Drink
Perhaps it was the use fresh ingredients or maybe it was the unbelievable smells that were floating overhead, but as soon as each plate was placed in front of us, we dove in head first, inhaling everything in our sight.
To kick things off, we opted for the buttered garlic mushroom on a toasted baguette (£6.50) and the Mac 'n' Cheese balls, served with a fiery chipotle sauce (£5). The mushrooms were delicious, but it was the Mac balls that really excited us. Our expectations were high, given that the waitress had told us they were her absolute favourite dish in London. Looking like arancini, the crispy exterior works perfectly with the rich, delicate flavours of the cheese and the back-of-the-throat spice of the chipotle dip. A must try in my book; the waitress' verdict was pretty spot on.
No sooner had our starters been cleared, our main courses arrived. We again went for the 'one traditional, one contemporary' combination, enjoying a portion of the hot chicken wings (£9.50) and a hearty beef and ale pie (£11). Whenever I see the words 'blue cheese sauce' on a menu, my mind is usually made up. Accompanying the perfectly cooked wings, the sauce initially produced a smooth, creamy flavour, before bursting off the tongue with a splendid, spicy kick. Despite leaving a lingering taste, you'll find yourself ploughing through the basket of wings, with the joker-style sauce smile on your face growing bigger and bigger. Next came the traditional pie. A thin layer of crusty pastry blanketing the entire dish, and once you'd regained feeling in your mouth after the first scalding mouthful, the taste of the thick gravy and tender beef is stunning. Balancing out each spoonful, the flaky pastry adds a contrast of textures that gives the dish a moreish feel.
The venue's charm extends far beyond its food menu. The team showcase the best and newest creations by London's best breweries, with a beer and ale board that changes on a daily basis. Playing it safe, we chose the Kernel Pale Ale (£5.50) and Partisan Stout (£6.50), two drinks that were refreshing and with just the right amount of flavour to accompany the rich meal.
The Mall Tavern wins you over as soon as you walk through the door. The engulfing atmosphere combines with the traditional furnishings to make you feel quickly at ease, while the drink and food menu work side by side to offer a traditional feast, signposted by a few playful surprises and sudden kicks. It's homely, it's wonderfully refreshing, but most of all, it never fails to put a smile on your face.