Something to Crow About in North End Road
Stuart Webb is impressed by a newly refurbished Fulham favourite

 

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The recently refurbished Cock Tavern on North End Road looks like being one of the most popular new attractions on Fulham’s vibrant social scene.

An impressive and, no doubt, costly refit has transformed the venerable pub (it was listed in the 1944 Post Office directory as the Cock Hotel) from what was formerly dull Victoriana to a modern contemporary look; think a sympathetic blend of library and lounge, add a dash of cool 1960s retro and round off with a light, airy feel. Even better, the rear garden has also enjoyed the same creative polish and promises to be the perfect summer hotspot.

Of course, image is one thing, but in today’s tough commercial environment, and with plenty of stiff competition on the doorstep, it takes much more than stylish décor to transform a business from sleepy traditional to cutting-edge success.

Other pre-requisites must be high quality food, a balanced and varied choice of beers and wines, a feel-good atmosphere, attentive service and enthusiastic staff. And, judging by my visit, Youngs seem to have triumphed with flying colours on all counts.

Walking in to warm, welcoming smiles from the staff, we enjoyed a drink at the bar before choosing a comfy spot from which to attack the menu. Perhaps wisely, my wife chose the “retro 60’s” area over the lounge, fearing that I would nod off in front of the fireplace!

Whatever your palate or preference, you would be hard pushed not to be tempted by something from the variety of available menus. There’s a Brunch menu from £4.00, sandwiches from £5.50 and a tempting assortment of Mains and Sharer’s from £9.50. We opted for the Grazing Plates menu on which prices range from £3.00 to £4.50 and up to £6.00 for fish dishes.

This very English version of tapas is a fabulous idea. After some heated debate, marital harmony was achieved and, from a selection of 20 dishes, we settled on sharing six. Our final list was: Young’s Beer–battered Fish ‘n’ Chips, Shepherd’s Pie, Highland Mussels Marinie`re, British Beef Sliders, Salt and Pepper Squid and Sticky Bourbon Barbecue Ribs.

Onto the wine and, to complement this impending feast, we decided to sample both red and white. I chose a glass of Rioja Crianza, (250ml, £6.50), which was notably smooth, not too spicy and with a pleasant aroma. My wife plumped for a Grenache Blanc (250ml, £5.15), which she deemed, “light, dry and easily drinkable” If wine is not your tipple, the Cock boasts an enticing line-up of four real ales, a host of draught lagers and an impressive selection of craft beers and ciders.

Despite such a variety, our dishes arrived at a perfect pace. Also, it soon became clear that there was no skimping on portions; in fact, we could easily have accommodated another diner.

Each dish was a winner in its own right. The batter on the Squid and the Fish ‘n’ Chips was beautifully light, with the twist of lime on the former a delightful addition; the Mussels were delicious (the white wine sauce was worthy of a dish of its own) with not one closed mussel in a generous portion; the Beef Sliders were a clever and tasty take on mini-burgers and the Ribs fell off the bone and had plenty of meat on them; the Shepherd’s Pie was fresh with a lovely lightly grilled mash topping and was served in its own little cast iron hot dish (this winter warmer is taking a rest in summer).

With hindsight, three or four dishes would have easily been enough for two, and it was testament to the quality that we sent back clean plates. But we hadn’t finished yet! I was once told that a sweet is essential for good digestion, so, naturally, we went for the desserts too.

If you’re a fan of that old favourite, Bread and Butter Pudding, I can thoroughly recommend the Cock’s deliciously sinful interpretation in which the sultanas are replaced with drunken prunes! We combined it with an equally wonderful Treacle Tart (the personal creation of the French-trained pastry chef) which, accompanied by a generous serving of clotted cream, was a veritable treaclefest.

I have to say the team here deserve great credit for the attentive standard of service and creating such a friendly atmosphere. I noted there’s something happening most nights of the week (for example, darts and quiz evenings and live music on Fridays) and I’m told the Sunday roasts have already won a passionate regular following.

Only a short stroll from Fulham Broadway station or a bus hop from Hammersmith, the Cock Tavern gets a huge thumbs-up from me. I’m sure it will rapidly become a firm favourite among Fulham’s discerning winers and diners.

The Cock Tavern
360 North End Road,
Fulham SW6 1LY
Tel: 020 7385 6021

www.cocktavern.co.uk

March 16, 2012