We are sensitive about our pubs in Primrose Hill. We have had too many old favourites taken away in recent years and are therefore more than ready to defend the ones we have left. So when our beloved Lansdowne closed in December, alarm bells rang.

However, to great relief, it reopened at the end of January. Change had taken place, which is not a bad thing in itself, but the question was: had it lost its cool and comfy, lived-in vibe that seemed to make it the very essence of Primrose Hill?

Look, I’m not going to lie to you. I turned up expecting to hate the renovation but enjoy the food. As it turned out, the interior isn’t too bad, apart from the unexpected light-wood shelving behind the bar. However, it was with the food that the heart and soul really seemed to have gone out of the place.

I will just single out two items that made a particular impression. The truffle and parmesan chips (£4), for which we had such high hopes, were soggy fish and chip shop style and came covered with grated mozzarella because there was no parmesan.

And the cheeseboard was a rather sad affair. Two unripened cheeses, one type of cracker, slivers of very hard pear. We asked the staff member what the cheeses were. “I have absolutely no idea,” he replied, with endearing honesty, and came back to tell us “Brie and Cheddar.” Take a look at the pictures below – it doesn’t take a cheese expert to tell you that’s not Cheddar. This cost £9.

On the bright side, though, I had a very nice glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (£8 for 175ml) and was then given another to make up for the fact that we couldn’t have main courses because the only dishes I could eat had either run out or contained the ingredient I’m allergic to. My friend had a glass of Prosecco which she enjoyed, but she resisted the second glass very kindly offered on the house.

The staff were delightful and really wanted to help, so I just hope that some enthusiasm can be put back into the food offering so the place can hold its head up high again. It feels as if the overhaul was carried out by someone who didn’t understand what was originally so great about the Lansdowne. But it’s early days so fingers crossed things improve.

© 2019 Joanna Reeves, all rights reserved.

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