I was reading a restaurant review by AA Gill in the Sunday Times a few hours before heading to the King’s Arms on Whiteladies Road for dinner. He casually dropped into the piece that he had dined with Jeremy Clarkson and Alan Yentob. For my own review of food and drink at the King’s Arms, I will drop in that I dined with my good friend Lucy, a maths teacher. Who needs Clarkson when you can talk about quadratic equations?
Lucy and I decided to meet at the King’s Arms as it is equidistant from our homes and it met Lucy’s criteria of being a pub but one that serves good food.
It was a Saturday night, with the pub very busy. But the King’s Arms is a sprawling place and everybody fitted in quite comfortably: the private party on the top floor, more relaxed drinking on the sofas on the ground floor, vertical drinking upstairs and on an in-between level a few tables laid for dinner.
In the summer, the beer garden here is also a very popular option, that’s if you can find it. The garden is at the back of the pub looking over the splendid Port of Call.
When the King’s Arms – the sister venue of the Picture House further down the road – was briefly the Black Bear (in the last few years it has also been called Babushka and Stark) it put a big emphasis on steaks. Now, the menu is more varied.
At the bar downstairs by the front door, you can often be served tapas. There are also both toasted and ‘doorstep’ sandwiches. For more substantial dining, there are huge burgers and a selection of mains which include pub standards such as gammon, egg and chips alongside more adventurous fare such as risotto and gnocchi.
Lucy chose the omelette, packed full with bacon, cheese and onion. I had the beef and bacon stew with wonderfully creamy Dauphinoise potatoes and a selection of seasonal winter vegetables.
The King’s Arms can mean many things to many people. I even saw Kate Nash play here once. If you only see it as a place to drink, try the food. AA Gill would approve.