★★★★ | The Hayden, London
There are lots of pubs in London that serve food but only a small handful where the food is excellent. The Hayden is one of these.
The Hayden is serving classic pub and is well worth the trip to Westbourne Grove. Their menu is a superb take on many classics, but of higher quality.
The slow-cooked BBQ Ribs were perfect! 2×6 pork ribs (12 in total) where the meat literally was very easy to tear off from the bone with a fork (no need to get your fingers messy), was very succulent, tender, and came with sumptuous bourbon BBQ sauce (tasty and yummy), and were the best ribs I’ve had in years. The ribs came with a large bowl of skin-on fries and a small salad for a bargain £17. I have been craving ribs for a long time and these filled the bill! My dining companion had the Pan-Fried Sea Bass. They were two smallish chunks served over tomato & mascarpone sauce, with asparagus and saffron braised fennel, and for him, it was a nice summer dish – not too heavy and no bones which made it easy to eat (£17.50). A man at the table next to us had the mouth-watering looking Sirloin 8oz steak – it was nicely grilled and nicely sized – and he looked like he was enjoying it (£19.50)!
We actually started the meal with, I failed to mention, starters, and both were just perfect. The Original Popcorn Shrimp, well cooked and plentiful, served with sweet chilli sauce, is highly recommended (£9). Very tasty and very good quality. The Pulled Chicken quesadillas – four, nicely-sized, browned all over and not too cheesy (mature cheddar), with a few jalapeños (not spicy), and a side of guacamole was a large portion, (and cheaply priced at £7), and was also very very good.
At times cocktail menus at pubs all blend into one, however, The Hayden has a special cocktail that will satisfy your thirst and knock your socks off! You have to, have to, try the Chora (it’s NOT on the online menu but on the drinks menu at the pub). It’s a beautiful-looking vodka drink made with lime juice, egg whites, cinnamon & almond syrup (producing a luscious foam froth) with Skinis Mastiha Liqueur (white Greek spirit made from resin). The Chora was just divine. The little flower on top of the foam added to the beauty of the drink (it was almost, I say almost, too beautiful to drink). Very sweet, beautiful burst of colours, delicious, refreshing and superb to say the least (£10.50). I also had the Watermelon Refresher (£7.50) and it tasted more icy and watery then watermelony (is that even a word)? My companion had the Red Pinot Noir with his dinner, he said it was fine, and a small glass is nicely priced at £7.25).
Now on to the desserts. My companion is an expert at cheesecake – and he simply devoured his. It was light and lively and a nice size, served with raspberry jam (£5), while I had the Eton Mess which had chunks of strawberries and chunks of meringue. It was cream heavy which I find most desserts are (£6). I long for the days when I will see healthy desserts (fruit dish & sorbet anyone?). Desserts are always creamy, dairy, and very full of chocolate, but the desserts at The Hayden were again, very good.
The Hayden has a cool pub look; dark interiors, with plenty of tables, a nice size fireplace – and a private area if you have a semi-large party and want some privacy. The night we were there there were lots of customers with American accents – I guess being in the vicinity of Notting Hill it’s a bit of an American enclave. But the pub is not just for locals. It’s on a strip where there are lots of cheap dining options (Nando’s is next door, Tinseltown Diner a block away, and a Gourmet Burger Kitchen across the street). Just bypass these and go directly into The Hayden.
I guarantee you The Hayden will have better chicken (Half corn-fed Rotisserie Chicken @ £16.50), better burgers (various types at between £14.50 and £16.50, with skin on fries), and The Hayden will sure beat the diner food they serve down the road.
And if you go to The Hayden Mon-Wed, you get 30% off your food. Or there is a set menu Mon – Fri until 7 pm where you get 2 courses for £16.50. And there are 2-4-1 cocktails from 5-7 pm Mon-Wed and Thurs & Friday 12 noon to 7 pm.
There is plenty on the menu at The Hayden to keep wanting to go back for more. It’s a cool pub that’s also a perfect spot for drinks at the bar – but eating there is a must. With very staff, a trendy but not too trendy vibe, and great food and drinks – what more from a pub could you ask for?
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.