Nestled in-between swish high-rollers’ homes in the chichi area of St John’s Wood, The Clifton is a neighbourhood pub and then some. The former Georgian hunting lodge has something of a seedy history, it’s where King Edward VII brought his mistress, Lillie Langtry here for secret liaisons. After standing empty for years it’s been masterfully resuscitated by brothers Ben and Ed Robson, the twosome behind the brilliant Boopshi’s in Fitzrovia. Inside it’s all tasteful Farrow and Ball slate-green, polished parquet flooring with sparse yet elegant decor, save for a green parrot keeping watch from the mantlepiece. At the rear there’s a sunny, plant-strewn conservatory.
Drinks-wise a lot of love has gone into curating The Clifton’s local and craft ale selection but it’s the wine list that really comes alive. Largely Old World European, it’s conceived in collaboration with TV wine expert, Raul Diaz, with plenty of classics (French Picpoul de pinet, Italian Chianti Classico) and curveballs (Austrian Gruner Veltliner and Tenerife Taganan) to delight the most discerning of oenophile.
Dining at The Clifton is informal but with a refined, white-linens-and-polished-silverware edge that elevates it from your average watering hole. Dishes are seasonal, inventive with a British-cum-Modern-European bent – think; 8oz Rose County Farm rib eye, snail butter, watercress and chicken liver parfait, sourdough and pickled baby onions. For its ultra well-heeled locale, The Clifton’s food and drink prices are astonishingly wallet-friendly.
What makes The Clifton special is its ‘more than a pub’ positioning. On weekdays it offers up a cafe-esque ambience, opening at 10am and serving up lattes and pastries to MacBook wielding freelancers.