By Mark Turnbull
The Florence Gastropub in Herne Hill is a great place for diners and drinkers alike to visit. Owned by the well-regarded Metropolitan Pub Company, its website suggests that “The Flo” is great for its craft beers. It is, but tonight we were as interested in its food.
Serving a wide range of classic and mouth-watering dishes with a modern twist, those with a passion for beautiful tasty food will find so many deliciously tempting plates to ruminate over on the Flo’s menu. We each struggled to choose from its menu due to the enormous range of foods that we fancied-a most welcome problem I find, far more desirable than only being enticed by one thing on a menu! After my taste buds won their wrestling match with my brain, I went for Quail, gingerbread, red meat radish & pancetta to start. The quail was so beautifully cooked-juicy and tasty and very moreish. The gingerbread although enjoyable had a dryness to it and I wanted more quail to off-set that. A pleasurable starter though which was presented with style, colour and panache. My fellow diner opted for the Cured Trout, Fennel, preserved lemon and horseradish and reported that it was exceptionally tasty.
Now for my main, it was awesome. Firstly though, an observation: when walking around several cities up and down the country, you might notice that there has been something of a boom in restaurants promoting the noble burger as its main attraction (e.g. Bryon). Certain foodies could be misguided yet forgiven for thinking “its just a burger, its not worthy of such limelight!”. However, since so many people love beautiful meat, bread, cheese and relish, why shouldn’t a burger made with skill, quality and care be a signature dish on a menu? I was instantly rewarded by my choice of main as I went for the Bavette & Brisket Burger with hand cut chips and a slightly sweet relish. The Burger was so gorgeous and in my opinion the star of the show tonight. The meat was juicy, succulent and its flavour heavenly, each and every mouthful was truly wonderful. My fellow diner enjoyed Pan Fried Monkfish Cheeks, purple broccoli, celeriac, and gremolata and he loved the fresh fresh fish, cooked to perfection.
For dessert, we both went for the Treacle Tart (we both wanted the tart and we shared the desire not to want to share it). The tart was served alongside a pumpkin infused ice cream and we were correct in our selfishness not to want to give any away to the other! It had a warmth and sweetness most welcomed on a chilly December evening in London. A most gorgeous of desserts.
The staff were delighted to help and were friendly without being over-attentive and were relaxed yet professional. The décor of the establishment is impressive and it has created a warmth and calm that many pubs of similar size find themselves unable to achieve. I would recommend The Florence to any diner wishing to enjoy lovely food in a lovely pub in the Herne Hill area and I would only be too delighted to return there.
The Florence can be found at 131-133 Dulwich Road, London, SE24 0NG.