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Long live the Lock Tavern’s party spirit

30 May, 2019 — By Tom Moggach

The Lock Tavern

RUMOURS of the death of The Lock Tavern sparked nationwide headlines last year. This legendary venue, now re-opened, has played a key role in the proud music history of Camden.

Stars and bands such as Adele, Franz Ferdinand and Amy Winehouse all played gigs here early in their stellar careers.

And many ravers have nursed sore heads after epic club nights in this sprawling two-floor boozer.

There was a collective sigh of relief when the venue was finally purchased by the East London Pub Co, who also run The Ten Bells, a historic pub in Spitalfields.

They have gently revamped the space, repositioning the bar on the ground floor, adding a swathe of reclaimed wood panelling and installing a fire pit in the large pub garden.

There’s a second bar and stage upstairs, with an adjacent terrace overlooking Chalk Farm Road.

All in all, it’s quite an operation. The Lock Tavern is more like several venues rolled into one, attracting a younger, fashion-conscious crowd up for having a good time.

The drinks menu is extensive: around a dozen craft beers on draft, many more by the bottle. Real ale lovers, however, will be disappointed.

They major on gin and tonics, with around 20 twists on the drink such as Bulldog London Dry gin with a Kaffir lime leaf and Mediterranean tonic.

A bold-flavoured cauliflower dish features with the usual pub classics

So, how’s the food? I went for dinner, taking a table in the main bar, where the music was pumping. The menu is simple but well executed, with pub classics such as nachos, a cheeseburger, fish and chips or sausage and mash, priced £10-£14.

I tried the more offbeat dishes and was highly impressed. For a starter, morsels of fried chicken are crumbed in a Japanese spice mix then served with a fiery mayo and chunk of fresh lime. This is highly addictive, snacky dunking.

A vegetarian dish of charred cauliflower displayed technical skill, with bold flavours and cunning balance of textures.

Firm florets of cooked cauliflower are served on a silky smooth purée along with chickpeas and wilted spinach, with a final flourish of black onion seeds and fragrant curry oil. A large serving costs only £10.

A special of a wild boar hot dog was less memorable. In my book, a decent hot dog demands a plump, whole sausage. These diminutive bangers were sliced in half and lost amongst a tangle of onions.

Service – both at the table and behind the bar – is smiley and professional.

Future events include a gig by Australian singer Hein Cooper on June 24 and a cabaret night on June 26 with the drag act Mary Poppers.

They have also launched new Sunday roasts, served 12-6pm, which include a beef sirloin and a vegetarian black bean and mushroom wellington.

This venue is obviously a dismal choice for a lingering romantic meal. The party spirit is still strong – long live The Lock Tavern.

The Lock Tavern
35 Chalk Farm Road, NW1
020 7482 7163


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