Pubs have been part of the British psyche since time immemorial; forget a swanky cocktail bar - if you’re like me, chances are you had your first pint of cider and black in a clapped out boozer in the deepest darkest depths of suburbia. And despite this country’s love for a bev, latest research shows that a pub shuts every 12 hours; fortunately for Tufnell Park, there’s one place that’s escaped the grips of London’s insatiable developers. 18 months ago Dartmouth Arms was saved by pop-up pros Disappearing Dining Club who are breathing new life back into the clapped out boozer formula.
While only three letters, ‘pub’ can mean anything from sticky-carpeted, denture breath-filled building through to Michelin-starred, grade-listed B&Bs. Dartmouth Arms comes under the middle definition, that which is followed by ‘local’. Walls are charcoal grey, DJ decks are manned by the lovely Neil, and tables line the large room, from the cosier front, round the busy bar and through to the wider, glass-roofed dining space. From a tiny City set-menu restaurant through to feeding fashion’s elite, Disappearing Dining Club have done the London circuit and then some. All that time with the bigwigs hasn’t gone to their heads with this permanent space; the pub’s menu is split into two: a three-course affair or simpler ‘traditional’ plates.
We nip between the two menus; fishcakes (£6.50) from the ‘pub’ section could be served at the fanciest of nights, with hunks of salmon and soft potato that we dip into a creamy curried tartar sauce, using Guinness bread (baked onsite) to mop the very last licks. An easy beetroot and barley risotto pads out the lamb from the main menu (one course: £16; two: £24; three: £28), without overwhelming the pink, garlicky meat. Two chargrilled tuna fillets are also light, sat atop herby crushed potatoes, with cherry tomatoes freshening the dish. The drinks list is also slicker than your standard affair; many wines are low intervention and on tap, the latter allowing less waste in both packaging and spillage. Venue manager Joe convinces us to give port a go, starting our night with a white Graham's No 5 and tonic, that tastes so light it could be used to hydrate marathon runners - or get you suitably smashed on a summer’s night.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Combining a love of excellent food, great music and interesting wines, Dartmouth Arms is the sort of place that you wished sat on every corner to revitalise the idea of hitting the pub. From port-filled supper clubs to DJ nights and bread baked on site, jump on the tube, walk across zones or hail an Uber and make this North London gem your new local.