Walmer Castle

Walmer Castle

Review: Walmer Castle, Notting Hill

Could this be the area’s cosiest pub?

Words by Becky Pomfret

A decent local pub can be hard to find, especially in London when sadly they are closing down on a regular basis.  The Walmer Castle pub, on Ledbury Road in Notting Hill, has been through a turbulent time over the past few years, but is happily now reopened following a top-to-toe refurbishment. Run by husband and wife Jack and Poppy Greenall, publicans and proprietors of much-loved The Surprise in Chelsea, they’ve created a traditional community pub with a wonderfully warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Walmer Castle Exterior

As a local resident, and one who used to drink here in the ‘90s, which firmly places me as a certain vintage, I’m intrigued to go back to see what changes have been made. It’s a rainy Wednesday night, and from the outside the pub looks very cosy. Much like walking into someone’s (very well designed) home, it’s spread over three floors, with a bar on the ground floor, and the first and second floors offering private event spaces. Throughout the three floors, historical maps and references of Notting Hill’s eclectic past sit amongst antiques sourced from markets and dealers on nearby Portobello Market and Golborne Road. Much of the furniture in the pub and private dining room is reclaimed, which adds to the homely feeling.

The light-filled first floor is complete with its own bar, dining and soft seating area, whilst the second floor offers a more intimate dining room, perfect for special dinners. Plans are also afoot to host interesting talks on everything from history, conservation and horticulture to design, art, literature and entrepreneurship, so as a community pub, it’s definitely moving in the right direction.

Walmer Castle interior

The Walmer Castle prides itself on its friendly service and unfussy yet delicious British seasonal dishes. Chef Luaan van der Watt has created a menu which is simple and satisfying, focusing on provenance with the highest quality produce sourced from suppliers including prized London butchers The Ginger Pig and exclusive seafood purveyors Flying Fish. We try venison carpaccio, which is a first for us, and it’s utterly divine, melt in the mouth, meaty goodness, and served with apple, endive and blackberries. We also go for cured Chalkstream trout with horseradish and capers, and it’s equally as satisfying, and happily a decent sized portion. For mains, we order Longhorn sirloin with peppercorn sauce, and as expected it’s a hefty, tasty dish, served with excellent chips. Halibut also comes out, with an unusual corn and smoked tomato risotto, served with samphire. Flaky, tender white fish in a beurre blanc, this is fabulous. We are on the cosy first floor, looking out over the junction of Ledbury and Lonsdale Roads. Seated in comfy chairs, in the warmly lit room, looking out on a drizzly night, we want to press pause in the moment and stay here forever. Reality bites in the best way when we finish our wine and realise we can’t leave without ordering dessert. Sticky toffee pudding is something I can rarely resist, and the oh-so-friendly staff agree with me and say it’s a particularly good one. It’s epic, and the cheese and biscuit portion very generous.

Before we leave, we have a tour of the private rooms, making a pact to hire one of the private rooms with friends and family for a special occasion, and to definitely come back to try more of the menu as soon as we can. With board games stacked up in the bar area (much like there used to be when I first came here) it’s also an ideal, dog-friendly pub to stop off for a drink and opportunity to beat a pal at Connect Four.