What? Part of the Cubitt House group, The Alfred Tennyson (formerly The Pantechnicon) is a pub in Belgravia for those who want to feel like they are back in the countryside albeit a London take on the country pub.
New? Nope, but it reopened in early September following an extensive refurbishment.
Where? You’ll find it sitting on a corner of Kinnerton Street and Motcomb Street. It’s a pretty, quiet area of Belgravia, with cobbled stones and impressive Georgian buildings; the sort of street you’d actually want to eat alfresco on. I’ve never understood why Londoners seem to be happy sitting on cramped pavements eating in the pollution with their brunch- I guess we make do with the space we have.
10 Motcomb Street, Belgravia, SW1X 8LA, www.thealfredtennyson.co.uk
On the Menu: Created by Executive Head Chef at Cubitt House, Leigh Hartnett, the menu is relatively succinct, although with the relaunch comes a new set of daily specials. Dishes are hearty, making use of seasonal ingredients, a pub it may be but you won’t find classic pub dishes here (if, like me, classic pub dishes to you are the likes of ham, egg and chips and lasagne that is). Instead, you’ll find: cured Chalk Stream trout with beetroot, apple and hay mayonnaise to start; Hebridean lamb with smoked aubergine, tomato relish, watercress and rosemary jus and Castlemead chicken with salt-baked celeriac, violet artichokes and almond jus.
The Look: Working with interior design agency Coriander Buildings (Disrepute, Rum Kitchen, Riding House Café), Cubitt House has completely redesigned The Alfred Tennyson. If you’ve been in the past, you’ll see that the bar has moved from the rear of the room to the inside wall, intimate seating areas are tucked away at the back and leather banquettes and high tables increase the capacity. Upstairs the dining room has been brightened up with touches of sage green and potted ferns. Retaining the quintessentially British feel and the Georgian sash windows and shutters, it just has a more contemporary feel to it, without losing the charm that it is known for.
What We Ate: Having earlier had a discussion about what makes a good Scotch egg (there’s an insight into office chat at The Handbook), I had them on mind, so it seemed only right that I ordered the Middle White pork Scotch egg. What makes a good Scotch egg? A gloriously orange yolk, rich, well-seasoned pork and a good crumb. The Scotch egg at The Alfred Tennyson scored 2/3, the pork rather lacking in flavour. White Park beef croquettes were our other choice, dunked in green peppercorn mayonnaise and devoured quickly – they were excellent.
Having had burgers at The Alfred Tennyson before and being a creature of habit, I ordered the Lyons Hill Farm venison burger – a solid choice. To go with it, I ordered thick wedges of sweet potato dressed up with feta and oregano and spike with chilli – delicious, even if bordering on cold. An issue that was to present itself again with the Middle White pork loin served with stem broccoli, a meaty black pudding and cauliflower puree which arrived cold. Promptly sent back, we were told it was the last portion of the evening (that said we did see people order pork loin later on… interesting), but the chef could work his magic on it – the cynics in us thought that would mean blasting it in the microwave – we don’t know what they did but it arrived back piping hot.
With the arrival of autumn, comes the start of months of comfort eating – many sins and many calories can be hidden under a good knit. We ordered the Bramley apple pie with salted caramel, pecans and vanilla ice cream, although after burgers we were left defeated. If you fall into the camp of people who think that a pudding isn’t really a pudding unless it has chocolate, then you’ll want the refined, dark chocolate and orange cremeux with mandarin parfait and cocoa nibs.
What We Drank: We toasted the start of the weekend with an Old Fashioned and a Crispy Leaf, made from Hendrick’s gin, elderflower liqueur and apple juice. Feeling rather full after eating and not wanting to fall into a carb slump and unable to head onto the bar where we were meeting friends, we rounded off the evening with espresso martinis.
Go With: The friends you normally escape to the countryside with – not surprising given its location, it draws a well-heeled, fur gilet, suede loafer wearing crowd.
Final Word: Where The Alfred Tennyson was let down on temperature on our visit, it made up for it in charm, atmosphere and excellent service. With the nights drawing in, change your alfresco drinking (on non-polluted London terraces) for a snug corner of The Alfred Tennyson, order a bottle of wine and a venison burger and say hello to the weekend.
The Alfred Tennyson: 10 Motcomb Street, Belgravia, SW1X 8LA