Test Drives

Fitzrovia’s dining scene improves, we check out The Newman Arms

What can you tell us about The Newman Arms?

It’s the latest project from the team behind The Cornwall Project, led by Cornishman and publican Matt Chatfield. Others in the group include the Adam & Eve in Homerton, The Duke of Edinburgh in Brixton and the Three Crowns in Stoke Newington. Here he’s pulled together a talented kitchen and front of house team, marrying it with his much renowned Cornish produce.  

The venue itself is an old boozer, a former pie pub that apparently inspired the 'Proles pub' in Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. Imbuing this with Cornish charm, the team have taken over the entire pub, preserving downstairs as a watering hole and transforming the restaurant upstairs.

Where is it?  

23 Rathbone Place. The pub is on the ground floor and the dining room, an intimate 40 seat restaurant occupies the first floor. 

Where should we meet beforehand?

Starting with the obvious, the downstairs pub is a good a start as any. Expect to find some esoteric Cornish ales and ciders available on tap including an excellent Castle Gold made by Chatfield’s brother-in-law. Other nearby options include Vagabond wines on Charlotte St or Newman Street Tavern – another great drinking and eating establishment which might, after a few pints, be confused with Newman Arms. 

Where should we sit? 

This 18th Century dining room feels quite intimate with low ceilings and dark wood keeping the vibe very cosy. That said there isn’t such a thing as a bad table in the restaurant. Tables accommodate groups of up to 6, however you’ll have a much better chance of snagging a reservation in groups of 2 or 4. 

And what stood out on the night? 

The menu here changes daily and moves with the seasons. That said, there are already some regular dishes that they’re planning to keep on the menu. One of these is the Roasted Lamb Rump. A slab of this is served very lightly cooked (at a very low temperature overnight) on a bed of smoked spelt with seaweed sauce & nasturtium.

Standout dishes we tried include: 

  • Mackerel, Fermented Gherkin & Fresh Almonds (£6) 
  • Red Mullet, Tomatilo Broad Beans & Soya Vinaigrette (£8) 
  • Beef Short Rib, Bone Marrow Crumb, Heritage Carrot, Pickled Shitake & Confit Garlic (£18) 
  • Roasted Lamb Rump, Turnips, Seaweed Sauce, Nasturtium & Smoked Spelt (£19) 
  • Turbot, Baby Fennel, Smoked Pink Fir Potatoes & Olive Sauce (£16) 

For desserts don’t miss the selection of Neals Yard cheeses (£10), our selection of Tunworth, Stichelton & Cardo (from Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Hampshire) seemed the right way to finish. For those after something a tad sweeter, the Cherry & Almond Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream (£6) will hit the spot.

And to drink? 

Whilst guests are still welcome to order drinks from the pub downstairs, it would be a shame to visit this restaurant and not glance at the wine list. Devised by consultant Zeren Wilson, it offers a selection of unusual alternatives to conventional lists, many of which are keenly priced. We particularly liked seeing wines from regions like California and Priorat available at very reasonable prices.

Overall thoughts.

Fitzrovia’s dining scene has long been in need of a shot in the arm. The Newman Arms goes a way to remedying this.  

The Newman Arms is at 23 Rathbone Street, W1T 1NG. Find out more about The Newman Arms.

Prices were correct at the time of writing. Hot Dinners ate as guests of The Newman Arms.

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