What was a somewhat dingy pub hiding in the backstreets of Hampstead has been transformed into a gorgeous bar and restaurant. The decor is just the right mix of warm and welcoming yet still fresh and minimal. I love it.
I went for a Sunday roast to begin with, and was disappointed to be told on the phone prior that a "large pot" of gravy had "just a teaspoon" of flour in it. However, the manager Emma called me back before my booking to let me know the Chef was able to prepare it gluten free, and has now made it gluten free all of the time. Hoorah. That's the kind of attitude I like.
It was a fabulous roast. Fabulous. The beef was melt in your mouth, mine beautifully rare as I'd asked for it to be, and the accompaniments were stellar. The baby carrots were roasted and sweetly shrivelled, the roast potatoes crispy but soft in the middle. The horseradish cream mixing with the rich and meaty gravy.... DROOL. Washed down with a delicious glass (or three) of (a very reasonably priced) Saint Cirice = sunday roast perfection. (Sorry for the rubbish picture.)
I then promptly booked myself in for dinner the following week, after noticing that the majority of the menu seemed to be gluten-free friendly (And have since been there almost every week. Me, greedy? No, never!...).
The menu changes frequently, but is in general a mix of modern British and French. For dinner I started with a duck salad with a poached egg on top; soft pink duck breast mingling with a honey mustard dressing and gooey yolk. Perfect.
The waiter was lovely and was more than happy to check everything with the chef, and never made me feel awkward in the slightest. My partridge was tasty, though the foie gras on the top probably unneccesary, with a yummy sweet maderia sauce. My companion's steak was brilliant - made even more so by a bernainaise-esque yet salsa verde tasting sauce, if that makes any sense whatsoever?!? (It did.)
Last weekend I had an awesome bavette steak on a bed of rocket. Best bavette I've ever had, not chewy or tough in the slightest. The cooking of meat at The Old White Bear is to a very high standard - and consistently so, which I think is the mark of a great restaurant.
You'll find me holing up in The Old White Bear's cosy arms a few more times this winter, hiding from the snow in this little gem of a pub. And remember, even though you know him now, and can love him too, I saw him first.
P.S. If you have any questions just ask the very helpful managers Emma and Abby and be sure to mention The Gluten Free Foodie.
Have a Merry Christmas everyone!
Gluten Free Knowledge: ★★★★
Gluten Free Range: ★★★★
Verdict: A foodie's perfect pub, restaurant and bar