Tel: +44 (0)20 8340 6712
Address: 86 Highgate High Street, N6 5HX
Cuisine Type: Modern French
Nestling in the hilly environs of North London’s Highgate Village resides the historic, circa 1700s, Rose & Crown. While masquerading from the exterior as yet another instalment of the modern-looking gastropubs dotted throughout London, this place is clearly much more with just a brief glimpse at the menu. Hubby also had a sneaking suspicion our experience would be particularly noteworthy, given his initials – RC – are the restaurant’s logo and emblazoned on the sign outside.
After being gently escorted past the compact yet stylish bar (think white leather sofas), we ventured into the warm and woodsy dining area. Sipping wine from the extensive listing of bottles from around the world (£11.95 – £37.50), we perused the summer a la carte menu – described as Modern French and chock-full of lusciously inventive dishes from which we struggled to choose.
Hors d’oeuvres (£4.50 – £14.50) were smartly proportioned, gourmet-sized morsels. I sampled the crispy duck salad with asparagus, baby corn, cucumber, tomato confit and hoi sin vinaigrette (which narrowly won the debate over the marble of foie gras with apple and spicy red wine reduction) – a balanced mix of crunchy, sweet and salty, with delicate yet strong flavours. Also delightful was the melon de Cavaillon, with Serrano ham and aged balsamic vinegar, another faultless execution of sweet and savoury.
First courses behind us, we eagerly waited for round two. Main courses (£8.95 – £19.95) included a few intriguing vegetable dishes, such as Calcutta vegetable curry, and a thoughtful selection of fish, poultry and meat dishes. The fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef with Maxim’s potatoes, friture of horseradish and Madeira sauce was superb – and deserved being at the top end of the price list. Pan fried red mullet with red wine sauce, pea puree and spicy pear, one of the restaurant’s more popular dishes, could have used a bit more spice for my taste, but garnered points for its innovative combination of flavours.
With sweet tooths in check, we descended the slippery slope of lust and greed. Dreamy desserts (£4.50 – £5.50) like millefeuille of strawberries with coconut milk, ginger custard, lime sorbet and balsamic reduction, and marquise of chocolate with milk sauce and berry more than hit the spot. It took masses of willpower to stop ourselves from ordering a third…
Sweet and clever touches abound at the Rose & Crown – from shot glasses for sea salt and ground pepper to one-of-a-kind artwork on the walls. Weather permitting there is also a charming outdoor garden to enjoy a cocktail or two. And as clichéd as it may sound, I still take pleasure in the chef coming out of the kitchen to greet guests. Bruno Delamare, formerly of the Ritz in Mayfair, merrily did his rounds and seemed genuinely interested in diners’ feedback.
Overall, the Rose & Crown is truly magnificent – vibe, food and service. The bill was slightly on the higher end, but well worth it. Having peeked at the forthcoming Autumn offerings – which will include items like confit of salmon with cocoa beans, gateaux of free range guinea fowl and wild rabbit en civet – a return visit is definitely on the cards.