It’s a Sunday, Sundays were made for roaming and if you live in North London there’s really no better place to roam than Hampstead Heath. No better place that is, if you didn’t leave the house on a empty stomach with the promise of a large lunch and hair of the dog to kick start you.
However, I did leave the house with but a banana to fuel my slightly dizzying head (England got kicked out of the rugby just yesterday and we’d spent the day drinking ciders in anticipation of what was ultimately a dooming match). No, this wasn’t a welcomed hangover and as soon as I’d stepped out the door and made it to the end of my road I’d realised today was not a day for roaming, in fact that one minute walk had made Frodo’s little jaunt to middle earth seem pathetic, but driven on by the fact my fridge was empty there was only one way to go – the bus stop.
Filled with, well nothing much more than a vat of disappointment – but armed with a strong urge to fill it with a touch too much food, swizzled in wine – the idea of a classic Sunday sat in a little pub on the heath hadn’t released its clutches – no cheeky Nando’s you won’t do – so up, up and into the Heath it is. Having jumped off the bus, we followed a trail that should potentially lead to a little dark rustic pub we could sit in for hours, much like the one the hobbits find Strider in (I imagined this way because this was in fact my own personal journey to middle earth).
Having lost ourselves amidst the woodland that looked the opposite of magical and enchanting in our now starving state, we decided to follow the road most trodden back to civilisation and forgot all about the blackberry picking we’d bagged and tupperwared ourselves up for and marched headstrong to the main road all the time muttering, ‘please God let there be a bloody pub’.
Anyway, we ended up at The Carob Tree. Overly grateful for the table and ungraciously eager to order, “no no, we’ll order drinks and food together.”
Now that we should stumble across a restaurant so well reviewed by my boss is simply delirious luck, but to be greeted by just the right character of host was wonderful. He presented all the energy and enthusiasm we simply couldn’t muster.
We only needed a quick scan of the menu – it was all edible – great start. We had been recommended to choose around five dishes, including a dip or two, a couple of meat dishes and a salad. Naturally we went for a bit more than suggested, because by this stage no food seemed like it could be enough – but we restrained from ordering everything, which I felt was good of us.
The houmous and melin tzanosalata to you and I that’s: roasted aubergine, tomato , garlic olive oil and lemon dip, came with fresh toasted pita – apparently delicious, but I requested something non-glutenous and some refreshing cucumber appeared to fit the bill. Oh and wine – let’s not forget the wine.
The restaurant itself it simple, but extremely welcoming and was buzzing with chatter and evidently very happy guests.
The wine was going down a treat, but we were clearly looking starved and assured our food would be coming out as soon as each dish was cooked – that’s how small plates work and we were happy to wait
but shortly they arrived in their individual glory – coal grilled asparagus with kefalotiri – that’s a delicate cheese and who doesn’t like cheese …on everything?
Keftedes next, these are a generously sized mixture of minced pork, spices and potato fried in little balls.
Crisp on the outside, moist and soft on the inside, really rather delicious
Just look at our spread…
But it’s not over yet, here goes the charcoal grilled lamb… I know, I know..
I’m hungry all over again. Fresh lemon squeezed on everything; mouthfuls of smokey meat, perked up with fresh flavours red onion and sweet grilled peppers
And it wouldn’t be a proper meze if we didn’t have some squid.. again, the charcoal grill just gives it that flavour that I can’t quite get over on every mouthful.
Filled to the brim, there’s no intention of looking at the dessert menu (though we all know there’s a second stomach for it)
But it seems sweet is not an option here – before we could ask for the bill our host has popped these down and almost before we can say thank you..
we’ve mentioned thrice how sweet it is and by the fourth consideration of its intensity we’ve demolished the lot . Concluding, that it was just sweet enough.
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I’d thoroughly recommend a visit here, via the woods or just getting in the car works too.
Full to the brim the only option was now to walk off the lunch on a simpler route home and why wouldn’t you on a day like this?
How do you spend your Sundays?
Where can you find this lovely little place?
The restaurant doesn’t have its own website, but here are two review sites you can trust (aside from me of course).