Despite only opening in April, Dartmouth Arms has an interesting history. After the Tufnell Park pub closed in 2015, residents launched a campaign to stop their beloved ‘Darty’ from being turned into flats, and publican Andy Bird stepped in and took over the renovations. For Bird, who also co-owns cocktail bars Happiness Forgets and Nelson's Head, this was not his first rescue mission. In 2015, Bird helped to save the Chesham Arms in Homerton from redevelopment and just 6 months later the pub was named CAMRA’s best in East London.
Restored to its former glory, Dartmouth Arms has reclaimed its place at the heart of the community – pets and kids are more than welcome, craft brews flow freely, and if their Instagram is anything to go by, it makes one of the best-looking roasts in North London area. However, does it all live up to the image?
Venue and Atmosphere
It’s past midday when we walk into Dartmouth Arms, but the sense of a sleepy Sunday morning lingers in the air. In one corner, two 20-somethings nurse their hangovers with Bloody Marys and a game of Connect Four. At the neighbouring table a man and his dog read the paper with a plate of the in-house pork-scratchings – giant shards of crackling served with a side of apple sauce (£3). Across the floor, a group of parents try to keep a horde of toddlers entertained for long enough for them to scarf down their Sunday roast and IPA. Despite the wood-panelling and burgundy walls, far from being dark and dingy, the daylight pours in through a skylight above the main dining area.
Food and Drink
The menu features enough Sunday lunch options to make even the most exacting roast connoisseur dither a little. Pork, beef, lamb and chicken are all available, with the menu also proudly displaying a vegan nut roast with the additional option of vegetarian mushroom gravy.
We opt for the Black Spot pork loin (£14.50) and the Welsh Black beef (£16.50), accompanied by a bottle of the house red, a 2016 GSM blend by Le Grand Noir – the wine company co-owned by former Sunday Telegraph wine correspondent, and all-round vino supernerd, Robert Joseph.
The pork is soft and juicy, with crunchy crackling. Trimmings consist of green beans, sweet potato and carrot mash, some of the most perfectly crisp roast potatoes I have ever experienced (and this is by no means my first rodeo) and spring greens. A big fluffy Yorkshire lounges on top, coated in a film of bone-marrow gravy. It’s an intimidating amount of food, but 20 minutes later we’re scraping our plates clean.
For desert we go halves on two – the crème brulee with homemade shortbread (£4.50), and the chocolate brownie (£5.50). The brownie arrives floating in salted caramel, topped with a little quiff of whipped cream.
Note: the salted caramel will get everywhere.
Further note: the mark of every good meal should be your mate having to spit-and-tissue bits of it out of your eyebrows.
Cool, calm and collected, Dartmouth Arms is a real pub for all seasons. We should all thank the pub gods (and Andy Bird) for saving it from a fate worse than death – redevelopment. What you’ve got in this nice local boozer is a little community hub where you can get some big, messy, flavoursome food.