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RESTAURANT REVIEW: HERNE TAVERN, EAST DULWICH

The Herne Tavern, a family friendly East Dulwich staple, has been serving up great food for years. Management changes have only seen the pub’s reputation grow, and their Sunday lunches are still a real treat, finds Mark Kebble

Chatting to a colleague a couple of days before my visit to The Herne Tavern, he mentioned that ‘for a pub, the food is pretty good’, insinuating that it’s a rare occurrence to go to the Dog & Duck or Fox & Hounds and actually get food that’s worth spending your hard earned cash on. They are pubs, right, so it’s all about the drink…

Well, of course they are and on my Sunday afternoon visit to The Herne Tavern, there were plenty of punters happy to sup on a pre-week pint and enjoy that the sun in the pub’s beautiful outdoor space. But if they have never eaten at The Herne Tavern, or even considered it, then they are missing out on a treat.

The vibe is spot on, with a reclaimed vintage feel to the furnishings that, for me, suits a pub. Drinks on board, I proceeded to order a double Dingley Dell (say that without laughing), provider of pitch perfect pork. It was that old favourite – a Scotch egg – to start, which didn’t let me down, but I was a tad jealous of the crispy octopus opposite me, juicy pieces of seafood in a light batter with a hot sauce.

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The main event, though, was to come. The pork belly was an eye-catcher on the plate, and cooked to perfection: the outer crackling offering a satisfying crunch, but not solid enough to prevent me cutting into the tender pork. Served with all the trimmings, it was a feast for a king.

The herb gnocchi on the other side of the table proved a lighter affair, but was no less tasty, and meant that the wife had room to indulge in a wonderful sticky toffee pudding and ice cream to finish, whereas I could only handle the much lighter strawberry Eton mess.

The ‘gastropub’ is an overused term in this day and age, and not a very welcome one at that, but how do you define a proper boozer that serves up quality foodie fare? Well, whatever you call it, The Herne Tavern does a pretty good job of it.

The Knowledge

Cost
Three courses, with drinks, comes in at a very reasonable £70

Good for…
Sunday roasts are a good shout, but their midweek menu is also carefully thought out

What to know…
Don’t miss their quiz night every Sunday

2 Forest Hill Road, East Dulwich SE22 0RR; 020 8299 9521; thehernetavern.co.uk

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