With neighbours including Chanel, Stella McCartney and Ralph Lauren it’s no surprise that when The Hour Glass started to show signs of ageing it underwent a facelift. On our visit, two weeks after opening, there was still the smell of fresh paint.
With every innovative new restaurant opening in the capital, something has got to be said for loyal owners who retain the name and core concept of a formerly loved venue and bring it back to life. New owners Luke Mackay and David Turcan know what they’re doing; Luke has already tried his hand at pub makeovers, having done up The Royal Oak in Bishopstone and together they run Brompton Street Market round the corner – visually very similar to The Hour Glass with the same turquoise-coloured awnings.
Not everything is new however. The old wooden bar is the centrepiece of the ground floor, as it should be in any self-respecting alehouse. Sneak up the unfinished (on purpose) wooden staircase and you emerge in the new dining room with open kitchen at one end. When I think ‘pub’ I think ale coasters, brass trinkets and ketchup/mustard/mayo on every table. They have said goodbye to a few of these things but the antique-looking cabinet in the corner of the dining room was a nice touch, housing the familiar bottles of Heinz which may be faux-pas to request in many restaurants but in pubs is almost a faux-pas if you don’t.
Sitting upstairs it might be easy to forget this is a pub but inkjet printed menus and white paper napkins gently bring you back. If you’re after a starched cotton napkin you’d be best to walk a bit further down the street. This informality doesn’t distract from the great menu – refined and printed daily using seasonal ingredients, it’s familiar pub grub (fish and chips, steak and chips) but calling it ‘grub’ seems wrong; it’s better than that. Much-loved bar snacks feature boldly on the menu; I’d be as happy sharing a scotch egg on a stool downstairs as I was upstairs with my wood pigeon starter and sea bream main. The food was uncomplicated and unfussy, just great flavours which work together. And, because it’s a pub, I should point out that there is a strong range of guest ales, local bottled beers and London brewers on draft, and the house red we drank was lovely.
Although we were the only diners when seated at 7pm on a Monday, by the time we left every table was full. The local couple on the next table to us declared their excitement – they had been monitoring it’s progress for months. I suspect this is exactly the type of customer The Hour Glass will appeal to.
Images Leyla Kazim