The Alice House is tiny chain of 2 bar/restaurants in North West London; one, smack bang in the middle of West Hampstead, which can lay claim to very good tapas and a nice choice of wines which may explain why it is always rammed full of young trendies; the other, smack bang in the middle of Queen’s Park, can lay claim to one of the best burgers I’ve had, a not-at-all-bad brunch and a nice, laid back atmosphere.
So let’s start with brunch. I say it wasn’t at all bad because it really wasn’t. It just didn’t set my culinary world on fire. Maybe, you think, not everything is supposed to. Maybe. But for me, food should be amazing all the time. It can be plain, simple, consisting of a handful of ingredients yes. But it should be amazing. People who think food is fuel and isn’t to be luxuriated in? I have serious trust issues with those people.
So the brunch menu was good but not thrilling and the execution was fine but not mouth-watering. Maldon smoked salmon and scrambled egg on granary toast with watercress. Good eggs, fine salmon, okay bread. There wasn’t anything bad about it, it just a) didn’t thrill me in the way good food should and always does and b) convince me that I couldn’t have done a better job at home. The water with cucumber and lemon is a nice touch though and generously replenished.
So let’s ease quietly away from brunch and move onto a storming burger. Yeah, I said storming. Totally justified. The combination of a thick, juicy beef patty topped with cheese, red onion marmalade and a smearing of mustard is something really very good. It sounds crazy to enthuse about a condiment so much but I swear, that mustard made it. Absolutely. Made. It.
Hand cut chips, fat and golden, prove to be a more than adequate side and although I have to be honest and say none of the cocktails appealed to me, the choice was eclectic and chic and served in jam jars with a friendly smile.
Both locations have a great atmosphere where you would feel equally comfortable coming with girlfriends for a ladies night out, someone special for a casual date or a group of guys who need re-fuelling pronto. Service is always genuine and you get the feeling that if they weren’t on that side of the bar, they’d definitely be on this side of it with you.
So let’s recap dear reader what we’ve learnt from this…go for a breakfast that will fill but not excite you…go for a burger that will do both without a shadow of a doubt…go for a drink with friends in a place where you don’t feel as though you’re being chased out the door the minute your glass starts to look empty.