The Queen’s Head and Artichoke, 32 Albany Street, NW1

This pub is a little off the beaten track, but well worth a visit. The dark wood bar and textured wallpaper are reminiscent of the old boozer that used to occupy the spot, but it has reinvented itself firmly as a gastro pub. We visited on a Friday lunchtime and were lucky to grab the last table on the ground floor without booking. The first floor dining room looked ok, but didn’t have the atmosphere of the downstairs area. The staff were friendly and perfectly happy to squeeze the three of us onto the last table that was meant for two. The other tables were filled mainly with local businessmen and women having a relaxing Friday pub lunch.

As well as the normal menu, this pub boasts a great tapas menu with both hot and cold options. We opted to start with some cold tapas to share and ordered a tomato and mozzarella salad and hummus with flatbread. Everything was really good quality, the mozzarella was full of creamy flavour and the hummus was homemade and chunky. We were also given some delicious homemade bread.

One of the specials of the day was char grilled squid with spicy rice. This sounded too good to miss so two of us opted for it. The rice was similar to a squid ink risotto and was oozing with flavour. The squid was still tender and it was dressed with a citrus and balsamic glaze. The other main course we ordered was tagliatelle with a creamy parmesan sauce and broccoli. The pasta was fresh, cooked al dente, and covered with the glistening sauce.

There’s plenty on the menu to try. You could make an entire meal out of the tapas with the breadth of options on the menu. In addition, the daily specials mean there would always be something new to try so it’s the sort of gastro pub you can make your regular without the food getting tired. Good news for those who work or live in the vicinity, and one to keep in mind if you find yourself hungry around Great Portland Street tube.

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