THE SCENE Both the menu and ambiance of Belsize Park’s The Hill Bar and Brasserie are inspired by northern America’s Pacific Coast. Service is something the US does well and, in this Haverstock Hill tribute, you’ll find the same professional but laidback attitude to food and drink. Sit at a table in the restaurant area, over which hang mirrors and chandeliers that once decorated the houses of George Michael and Boy George respectively. In the summer, you can dine in the garden
or on a pavement table. If you’re too lazy to move after your meal, stay on – once the kitchen closes, the bar gets lively.

The grub The emphasis is on fresh ingredients and seafood; dishes that conjure up thoughts of California’s sunny coast. There’s a raw bar and a wide variety of shellfish and sashimi as well as Schezuan noodle bowls and steak-boards to choose from. It’s a sunny day, so I forgo the New England clam chowder and start with Irish rock oysters, which are firm and deliciously taste of the ocean. With them, my friend and I share a baked honey fig salad, drizzled with dolcelatte blue cheese dressing and topped with caramelised pecan. We drink a crisp New Zealand riesling and our tastebuds zing. The burgers in The Hill are worth the visit in their own right – the ‘Overboard’ contains lobster, prawn and crayfish – but I am won over by the seabass, which comes with wilted spinach and caper butter sauce. Despite working our way through several plates of food, the fare is light and we feel justified in finishing with a satisfyingly stodgy sticky toffee pudding, a dessert so good, we don’t say a word until the plate is scraped clean.

Behind the bar There’s a list of more than 50 wines, as well as a selection of cocktails. Earlybird weekday bookings (5pm-6.30pm) receive a complimentary bottle of house wine.

Bill please Starters from £4.40; burgers from £9; main courses from £8.50. Bottles of wine start at £16; cocktails from £7.

verdict Elegant but casual, The Hill serves incredible food without pretension. Fine dining at its chilled-out best.

 94 Haverstock Hill, NW3 2BD 
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