Neither my friend nor I live in South Kensington, or especially near, and what I really want from Sunday lunch at the newly reopened Hour Glass Pub is for it to be excellent as a one-off. I don’t really want my ideal neighbourhood pub to turn out to be in somebody else’s neighbourhood altogether.
But everything about this bodes promisingly, dangerously well. The founding fathers, for a start – Dave Turcan and Luke Mackay, owners of the renowned Brompton Food Market on nearby Thurloe Place. And the setting: the pub downstairs is all warm wood and dark-red leather, booths tucked into the curves of the wall. Upstairs, where we’re booked for Sunday lunch, is a narrow strip of a room – it’d be a great place to end up of an evening, informal but decadent with fantastic wines, faded wood and splashes of turquoise leather in the banquettes.
Although we admire that wine list – and dabble in its shallows – this is a Sunday following separate but equally uncivilised Saturday nights. We’re more focused on food to soothe my friend’s savage beast of a hangover, and to make me feel better for having pried myself out of bed after a tiny fraction of a sleep. When we sit down, both of these are feeling like tall orders.
But we’re either very fickle or the food’s very, very persuasive, because we’ve only had our starters a few minutes – my friend’s beetroot and smoked eel salad, my uber-British charcuterie board of venison bresaola, duck and date terrine, venison and green peppercorn salami – before we’re already trying to think of things to bring us back to this stretch of Brompton Road.
We daydream about carb-loading on their sausage rolls and craft ales to prepare for the V&A’s enormous Medieval & Renaissance Galleries. We fantasise about building late tapas-style dinners from the starters menu after screenings at Ciné Lumière. We imagine matinees at the Royal Court Theatre followed by late Sunday lunches like this one right now. It’s getting pretty tactical, but then our main courses arrive, and that brings everything but admiration to a halt.
Mine isn’t the most obviously impressive choice from a Sunday lunch menu offering stone bass and cuttlefish stew or rare breed pork belly with crackling. But the fish and chips are both formed to some Platonic ideal of fish and chip, the chips triple cooked in beef dripping, the batter a light, protective cloud. My friend feels equally moon-eyed about the roast beef and duck fat potatoes. By the time we’ve finished these – and ordered pumpkin icecream with walnut brittle for dessert – we’re casting around ever more desperately for reasons to bring us this way.
Do we know anybody with a dog that wants walking, my friend, extremely not a dog-lover, suggests. The ground-floor of the pub’s dog-friendly, she says. We could, you know, take our (imaginary) SW3 friend’s (imaginary) dog for a walk in the park, and then bring it to the Hour Glass, and then: ale and bar snacks.
It’s a valiant argument, especially knowing her true feelings about dogs. But maybe it’s time we just agreed that the Sunday lunches at the Hour Glass – or the Scotch eggs, or the smoked eel, or the totally bizarre roast pumpkin ice cream, for that matter – are worth coming from the other side of London for. Regardless of how many South Kensington dogs there are in want of walking.
The Hour Glass Pub, 279 – 283, Brompton Road, SW3 2DY. Tel: 0207 5812497. Website.