THE GRUB: The savoury part of the menu effectively splits into four parts. Small plates, cured meat, main courses and pizzas. We were immediately drawn to the inventiveness of the first category and really enjoyed the spicy, crispy N’duja croquettes which came with a smooth sorrel mayo. The crispy squid served with creamed and grilled corn and bacon crumb was equally good; the squid successfully straddled the line between just cooked and unpleasantly underdone. On to the main courses where we went for pork loin chop, kale polenta, apples and almonds. The flavours worked well together and the snap of almond really complimented the softness of the polenta. Ironically, noting that the venue is a purveyor of pizza, that was the only let down. From a menu of some very enticing-sounding options we chose lamb, preserved lemon, Brockley feta and wild rocket. I loved the tang of the lemon but the lamb came in the form of a not very liberal smattering of mince and the rocket needed to be enlivened with a few splashes of oil. The base was ok. We finished with a blueberry and gin trifle which was tasty but needed a bit more ooomph.
BEHIND THE BAR: There’s a shortish wine list but the emphasis is on beer, cocktails and G&Ts. The beers cover an impressive amount of ground, with loads of local draught options and a more global fridge selection. Cocktails are a mixture of the staples; Negroni, Bellinis etc and some more unusual tipples such as the potent Scofflaw, a concoction of vermouth, whisky, bitters, grenadine a touch of lime juice. The highlight though, came from the gin and tonic list with a beautifully spicy Opihr; Fever-Tree, orange and black pepper.
BILL PLEASE: Small plates are around £5, mains £15ish and pizzas are £9 – £11. Beers range from £4 – £7.50, cocktails are all £9 and the (rather potent) G&Ts are £9.50.
VERDICT: A really vibrant atmosphere complimented by some inventive cooking but let down by frustratingly lack lustre pizzas. That said, all it needs is a few tweaks and it’s got the foundations to become a firm local favourite.
ADDRESS: 5 North Wharf, Paddington, W2 1LA.
OVERALL STAR RATING 3.5 out of 5