Dish the Dart’ on new-look pub
After being rescued by local residents, the Dartmouth Arms now has landlords who love the pub and good food in equal measure
16 May, 2019 — By Tom Moggach
Disappearing Dining Club’s fare, it says, is ‘elegant but honest’
THIS story has more twists and turns than a spy novel by John le Carré. The Dartmouth Arms, a handsome pub in NW5, was almost snuffed out by property developers. The previous landlord sold up when the going was good – then promptly vanished. I stumbled across him pulling pints in the port town of Harwich.
The Dartmouth was then rescued by local residents, who listed the pub as an Asset of Community Value – but it remained empty and unloved for several years.
Salvation came in the form of a veteran publican from Hackney. This chap re-opened the place in 2017 to great acclaim but then mysteriously decided to move on.
Fingers crossed, then, for this next chapter – new landlords called Stuart and Fred, who love the pub and good food in equal measure.
They founded Disappearing Dining Club almost a decade ago, specialising in pop-up events and short-term restaurant residencies.
Over the years, the pair have hosted meals in all manner of unlikely venues, from a lighthouse in Docklands to the top of a skyscraper in Amsterdam.
Do not fear – The Dartmouth is still a proper pub where you can enjoy a quiet pint. The atmosphere and décor remain much the same – that of a traditional Victorian public house with a huge selection of booze and fab food.
The wine selection is much improved; candlelight flickers in the evenings. Tunes are played on a vintage, vinyl-only hi-fi system, with a low-key DJ every Friday and Saturday and a quiz on Tuesdays. “It’s music to sit, drink, eat and chat to,” Stuart says.
The Swedish chef Fred offers two menus: his take on pub food and a more refined menu.
“Proper restaurant food with Scandinavian touches such as curing and smoking,” explains Stuart.
The pub menu includes steak and chips, smoked salmon fishcakes and the “Lindström’”, a Swedish take on an open-topped burger, available in beef or vegetarian versions.
Prices are fair – from around £7 for a smaller dish to £14.50 for the steak, which is good value in this upmarket area.
We enjoyed their take on a Caesar salad: springy leaves of Cos lettuce and shards of crisp toast and Parmesan stylishly served upright, nestling in a dainty glass. You dip the leaves in the thick dressing.
Prices rise for the dinner menu, which costs from £16 to £28 for one to three courses. Expect refined cooking, such as sophisticated smoked salmon salad with white and green asparagus.
There was even a vegetarian creation of potato, leek and mushroom bread and butter pudding with poached egg and mousseline sauce – and yes, that is one dish.
“Elegant but honest; hearty but not stodgy; proper flavours and real cooking,” is how they describe their food.
It’s not easy to run a pub that appeals to all in this neighbourhood. But this latest incarnation of The Dartmouth definitely hits a sweet spot.
35 York Rise, NW5
020 3793 0202