The Cadogan Arms calls itself a gastropub, but there’s far more of an emphasis on the ‘gastro’ bit than there is on the pub. This isn’t one of those hearty Oxfordshire gastropubs wit
h sixty eight different local ales on tap and a landlord who’d drown you in a specially-aged oak cask if you so much as asked for a Carlsberg. This is basically a restaurant, complete with waiter-service and free bread, where, if your father’s hedge fund has just collapsed, you can opt for a pint of cider instead of exploring the three-figure end of the wine list (Dom Perignon 2000, £150, or £20 for a boggo 08 Sauvignon).
It is almost obligatory in restaurant columns now to take a blonde with you when you go for a meal. I couldn’t find one in time, so had to settle for a sort of pale brunette with highlights, but she was at least good company, and willing to indulge me in my vaguely dictatorial policy on menu choices (I order the nice stuff, you order the ‘interesting’ stuff that will probably make for good copy later). She came, however, with the disadvantage of being an old schoolmate of our waitress. What do you do in that situation? How do you sit haughtily at the table while the girl who used to sit next to you in double maths takes your coat and tops up your water? (While you’re silently thinking that this is what she gets for constantly texting her boyfriend under the table while you diligently studied for your exams). Are you supposed to tip her as you leave? In the end, they both solved the problem in the time-honoured English manner: ten seconds of awkward small talk followed by studiously avoiding meeting each-other’s eyes for the rest of the meal.
Awkward waitress gone, I started with a partridge and guinea fowl terrine drizzled with truffle oil (which, by the way, is a pointless gimmick nothing like real truffles; don’t fall for it), which was fine, not seven pounds fifty fine, but fine. My not-quite-blonde companion had a ‘half pint o’prawns,’ which is basically a faux-hearty gastropub way of saying prawn cocktail, the ones that used to be served everywhere in the ‘80s, except this one came in an old-fashioned beer mug (as if to jokily point out that, despite the presence
of Dom Perignon on the wine list, the Cadogan Arms used, once upon a time, to be a real, honest-to-god boozer, complete with beer and everything).
It’s hard to mess prawns up, given that you don’t really need to do anything to them except plonk them in a va
t of mayonnaise and s
hredded lettuce, but these ones were well plonked. Then gnocchi for her (my dictatorial side had withered by this point) and half a lobster for me, which was stupendous, soft and moist, with the taste of salt and muscle and decadence, and some average chips on the side.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the transformation of the British pub. A few years ago, pubs gave you pie and chips and lager for a tenner, but the modern version serves lobster and chips and champagne with a tenner’s change from two fifty pound notes. This is the King’s Road version of progress. You just have to remember to concentrate in your maths lessons first.
In Short: Who knew beer goes with lobster?
Address: 298 King’s Road, London, SW3 5UG