Kyes Bar, Southgate
A visit to Kye’s, on the High Street in Southgate was long overdue.
I’d had more than enough encouragement from friends in favour of the place, and yet, nostalgic memories of sitting on a bar stool, drinking lemonade, looking up at my Dad, were preventing me from embracing the new. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me, and I’m very glad it did.
There’s not a lot left of ‘ye olde’ – hints here and there, perhaps, but raspberry pink feature walls, chandeliers, ornate gilded mirrors, high back leather chairs and modern bar stools soon erase any images I had that were nostalgically lingering of a smoky old pub!
And it was lovely to discover a pretty garden at the back – I had no memory of this the first time around, although it must have always been there. This little spot will be lovely on warm days and balmy evenings; let’s face it, we all crave al fresco dining and this is a fume-free, walled-in, peaceful haven with trees and fairy lights; ideal for families, couples and large groups of friends.
We visited on a Tuesday evening, which is a bit of a luxury these days as many of us are tightening our belts. It was quiet, but it doesn’t deserve to be so.
During these frugal times restaurateurs have had to be canny, offering mid-week set menus that demonstrate great value. However, most do this by offering much less choice and portion size is often reduced. Fair enough I say, there’s a lot of overheads that the average punter is blissfully unaware of in running a restaurant. But Kye’s are not only offering a modestly priced a la carte menu, there’s a 2 course set menu for a tenner!
It has an abundance of choice, all very appealing and when you see the size of the portions that come floating out of that kitchen, believe me, it’s a wonder how they do it.
I must say, it was hard to choose. There are so many things on the menu, including the set menu, which I’d want to eat. All the old brasserie faves are here, like crab cakes, salmon linguine, calf’s liver and veal escalope; but then, surprisingly, you have all the old pub staples like bangers & mash, beef & Stilton pie and fish & chips!
In fact, it’s cheaper to eat fish and chips here than it is to takeaway from your local chippy!
This is what I call ‘great value for money’….it’s not just something they wrote on their board to pull you in, it’s fact!
And before you start thinking, ‘oh, well the food’s probably not that great’, well, don’t, because the food is up there with any other decent, local restaurant in the area.
It’s well cooked, well presented, and more importantly, very tasty. And it takes some getting through too; my husband’s fish pie - which was delicious by the way – looked big enough for the two of us!
It was packed with prawns, salmon and smoked haddock in a rich, creamy sauce with a cheesy mash topping, perfectly finished under the grill to give it that gorgeous brown grill-kissed glow. I had no idea how he’d get through it all after all the lovely toasted ciabatta he’d tucked away with his chicken liver paté starter, but he did! Sign of good food, when it’s simply too good to leave!
My warm duck salad starter was pleasant. A subtle, sweet dressing allowed the duck to quack for itself, rather than over-powering it, although I’d have preferred the duck to be more delicately shredded. I followed this up with a rib-eye steak and chips with a blue cheese sauce. I always judge a place by the quality and flavour of its meat, and this was good. The steak chips were chunky and golden and thankfully, not smothered in rock salt, which so many places do these days.
We rounded things off with a big chocolate mousse to share which came in a retro knickerbocker glory glass – remember those?! It was all we could manage after the feast that had preceded!
The wine list is short with a handful of safe, classic choices like Pinot Grigio, Sancerre, Chablis, Brouilly and St. Emillion. They start from £13.95 - pitched again for the price-sensitive market we now live in - with the most expensive still under £25.00. Terrific value, especially for someone like me that normally spends more on the wine than the food!
Whenever I review a restaurant I like to home in on the positives. The negatives are worth mentioning, but it’s more important to give people a reason why they should try somewhere (if, of course, they should!) and Kye’s, as I see it, is actually giving people the one thing they are truly looking for these days – somewhere congenial and relaxed that offers great value for money. In fact, so much so, that I’m left wondering how they can be making any!
So, the message is simple folks, don’t bother staying in on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday for that matter. It’s cheaper to eat out. If you’re heading to Kye’s, that is. Next visit for us will be for the Sunday roast, which my trusted friend has also given the thumbs up. I’ll keep you posted via my blog!
Isobel Cripps May 2012
52 High St
Tel: 020 8882 8593
Monday-Thursday 5pm - 11pm Friday 4pm - 12am
Saturday 12 Noon - 12am Sunday 12 Noon - 11pm
Available for private functions & events, on request.
The King Head, N21 ....The place, the memories….
As with all relationships, they have their ups and their downs.
So, after a period of detached absence it was back to the King’s Head, my old ‘local’ and probably the most iconic pub in Winchmore Hill; its iconic status drawn mostly from the building itself – bold, beautiful and perched majestically on the green, for all to esteem. It doesn’t disappoint inside either; it’s got that lovely unpretentious feel about it and an open fire that creates a warm focal point and coveted place to gather with friends.
I’ve been coming to this pub on and off for about 20 years and suffice to say, there’s been some good times and some bad times, and more recently some cold times (it’s not that easy to heat a building of this size you know!)
But it has something that always pulls me back.
Maybe it’s the memories - I drank my first tequila shot here on New Year’s Eve 1989, and was promptly chastised for dancing on the ‘throne’. “Don’t sell tequila then” I drunkenly retorted.
Now I tend to avoid pubs where cocky young girls throw back shots of tequila and dance on chairs and I aim for somewhere that serves good food and fine wines……like the King’s Head!
Ironically, it would seem that we’ve done our growing up together. And it’s hard sometimes not to be nostalgic for the days of our miss-spent youth and lock-ins, when we all knew the landlord/lady and smoked fags all night.
Times have changed and so have we; we’re 20 years older for a start! Jeronimo Inns now manage this prize site, adding it to their already impressive portfolio of ‘great neighbourhood bars in London villages’.
Their company ethos is sound and they are a group that looks long and hard at what they do, not taking anything for granted, so not surprisingly they have a good little team in here, looking after customers that, reassuringly, have been coming here for even longer than I have.
I recently had lunch with a friend there, (who was around when I drunk the tequila – in fact, it was her idea) but we didn’t get nostalgic about the old days, we focused on the food and steamed into 2 courses each with a nice glass of vino – hers a South African Sauvignon, mine an Australian Voigner – pleasant wines priced around £6.50 each for a large glass.
They’ve got a short, but decent enough wine list with a sufficient selection offered by the glass, (remember, this is a pub, not a wine bar) which is ideal when you’re after quality rather than quantity, as we were.
Starters were char-grilled asparagus with salsa verde, and bulgar wheat salad with beetroot and tomatoes (about £6.00 each) – ideal summer starters, fresh and colourful giving them immediate appeal.
Main courses were linguine with garlic prawns and parsley in a creamy parmesan sauce; not as typically Italian as it sounds, and for as tasty as it was, and it was, an Italian chef would have probably screamed ‘Mamma Mia’ if he’d tasted this.
My char-grilled lamb steak (£12.00) was a hefty old lump (figuratively speaking of course) and took some getting through. But my motto is, never complain about generous portion sizes, rather too much than too little, don’t you think?!
I normally like my meat quite pink, but quite often this cut of meat needs a little longer, and the chef obliged me without a drama. The parsley mash accompaniment needed more butter, (it seems like potatoes have no flavour this year) but it was still good; and the roasted parsnips were shiny, golden and sweet, just as they should be.
We wrapped it all up by sharing a lovely little lemon tartlet, which was a rather pleasant end to a rather pleasant lunch.
The food won’t win any awards, but it’s good, decent pub grub that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than that.
There’s all the old crowd-pleasing staples there too - bangers & mash and fish & chips (which I glimpsed on a neighbouring table and it looked lovely) - plus lots of specials on the blackboard to hold the interest of the regulars. And let’s not forget, it isn’t just the food that makes for an agreeable dining experience, it’s all the other elements too, like warm hospitality, stylish, comfortable and ambient surroundings; and that homely feel that so many places have lost the knack of creating.
I think these guys have got it pretty much worked out.
And as with any long standing relationship, there has to be an element of forgiveness, doesn’t there? On that note……… long live the ‘local’, long live the King’s.
The King’s Head
1 The Green, Winchmore Hill, N21 1BB
Tel: 020 8886 1988
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