Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Black Lion

The Black Lion in Kilburn was always one place I was keen to try mainly to sit in its ornate and wonderfully preserved rooms. A silly reason really to choose somewhere to eat but it's a sort of oasis in tatty Kilburn. Don't get me wrong, there are some excellent value for money places all along Kilburn High Road, most of which I would strongly recommend despite the less glamourous settings. I hoped this place would offer some of that.

You enter into the pub and immediately are struck by the black walls and ceilings that are wonderfully carved and decorated with gold paint. Panels around the room have embossed figures in a variety of poses and scenes that curiously suggests some significance of this pub in the area. Unfortunately I could not dig up much online and from its website, a shame considering there aren't that many pubs in London which look as impressive.

We came to try the dinner menu deal that was a no-brainer: 2 courses for £9.95 on selected a la carte items. By no means was this fancy even with our surroundings, but their descriptions appeared to be written with enough care to convey effort.

Boyfriend's starter was flaked roast duck salad with a hoisin sauce on top rocket leaves. My prejudice for the unoriginal duck and hoisin partnership was challenged when the sauce came as a reduction of hoisin and balsamic vinegar. The duck was nicely seasoned and rather enjoyable.

My moule marinieres was fairly standard. The creamy sauce with wine, celery and garlic, was rich and buttery and coated the generous portion of mussels nicely.

Now enter the mains. Whilst bountiful, the composition of both dishes lacked forethought. There were rogue vegetables in both dishes, like a single mangetout that had infiltrated my broccoli (which was undercooked harrumph) and cherry tomatoes that didn't really need to be there. Hearty and rustic are adjectives I'd love to use, but let's have some graciousness pur-lease.

And here is where I came close to whining out loud: flavour-wise my pork belly was actually decent, and a fairly becoming sauce, but the crackling was burnt! Burnt to the point which it was bitter and inedible. Burnt cracking = a very unhappy Hungry Female. 

BF's main of lamb shank was more successful, at least a prettier plate and big flavours.

All in all, a pity that the room doesn't come with food that matches it's opulence. I would have been even happier to pay more if it meant the dishes had been served with a little more care. Service was prompt and pleasant. 

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