Cheers! Here’s to the pull of The Belrose
Historic venue that closed down last year reopens with a lavish refit, an excellent range of drinks and reasonably priced food
31 August, 2018 — By Tom Moggach
The menu at The Belrose – the new name for Hampstead’s The Load of Hay – is ‘Italian inspired’
THE steep climb up Haverstock Hill, towards leafy Hampstead, has always been thirsty work.
Rewind the centuries and transport was by horse and cart, with a quick refreshment stop at The Load of Hay tavern.
But last year this historic venue closed down – swiftly followed by The Sir Richard Steele pub.
Prospects looked gloomy. Would it be more luxury flats for this stretch of NW3? But both miraculously reopened in August.
The Belrose – the new name for The Load of Hay – has fresh owners, a trio with diverse business interests. Their Collective MJMK runs a health food café and bar in Brixton, a swish peri-peri chicken restaurant in Southwark and an events management operation, specialising in house and techno parties.
This is their first pub, with a lavish refit that dodges some of the tired cookie-cutter clichés of the modern gastropub.
Step inside to acres of lovely dark blue on the walls and ceiling. Rough-hewn wooden tables are paired with tartan benches. There’s a snug separate dining room to the left and a large, suntrap beer garden. To the back right, past the long bar, is the open-plan kitchen with a clay pizza oven, clad in eye-catching diamond tiles. A real bonus is the microbrewery downstairs. I definitely rate their Belrose Pale Ale, full-bodied and crisp, at £5 a pint.
The drinks menu is remarkable, with 16 wines by the glass, some natural wines by the bottle and five pages of craft beers from around the world.
The food is “Italian inspired” and majors in Roman-style pizzas, plus a steak, burger and an array of small plates and salads.
Our dinner was decent if not spectacular. The pizzas are generously topped with quality ingredients and sensibly priced at around £8-12.
Most thrilling were the small plates. In one dish, an octopus tentacle is paired with crisp fried potatoes and a tapenade-style crumble of Taggiasca olives.
A whole, squidgy burrata cheese nestled against a colourful jumble of blood orange, pink grapefruit, fennel and fragments
There are two salads, both served with basil yoghurt. Chargrilled cauliflower is livened up with pistachio and chilli; Sicilian tomatoes with slivers of peppery radish.
A few glitches need sorting, however. The fennel salad was too watery – the pre-prepped slivers need a thorough drying. The heritage tomatoes were chilled rather than at room temperature, which muffles their fruity flavour.
As for desserts, the tiramisu and cheesecake both arrived in jam jars – a cute idea but one that might wear a little thin.
Overall, The Belrose is impressive – notable for the excellent range of drinks and reasonably priced food. You can pay just £10-15 for a meal before service, which is a bargain in this postcode.
As for The Sir Richard Steele, we popped our heads in after pudding to take a quick look. Expect to be shocked – the scuffed, candlelit vibe has gone. Watch this space for a full review coming soon.
94 Haverstock Hill, NW3
0207 2670 033