The Hampshire Hog, Hammersmith
Do you remember when the well-to-do residents of Primrose Hill- the celebutantes, models and JPs- were getting their petitions in a twist because a pub called The Engineer was being shut down? This scandal actually hit the papers, as a small enclave of drinkers fought hard for their really rather fabulous gastro pub. But lo, the brains behind The Engineer were not to be defeated and so headed west to leafy Chiswick (ahem, Hammersmith) to spruce up the pub scene. And the result, The Hampshire Hog, a pub that seems too pretty and well thought out for the rather dismal high street it sits on, like a child that dressed a little too well on mufti day and now looks woefully misplaced. Were it not for the bad rep that Hammersmith gets, we’d be dating here every weekend, come rain or shine.
Interiors are a mix of Scando-chic and classic gastro woodiness, meals are wholesome, furnishings are tasteful but eccentric enough to be memorable, the whole damn thing just works. Save a family group too many on weekends, this is just the place to turn a lunch date into a drinking session, without the gritty aftertaste. And the beer garden in the back, well, it’s bucolic, a place to neck your Pimms and rosé in no problem. This pub feels like home – providing home is a place where Eccles cakes are baked and naughty terriers are put out.
In East London we snigger at cocktails in jam jars, in West London we appreciate these trendy notes. This pub takes its drinks seriously, with 10 signature cocktails including the Louisina Jam – Southern Comfort, apricot jam, mint and lemon. If you’re on a lunch date, it’s a little punchy to start with the cocktail list, but a Bloody Mary would be passable. This isn’t the place to get too drunk too soon so for the lightweights there’s an excellent Virgin Apple Mojito (although you have to be pretty self-assured to play around with mocktails on a first date). Food-wise, we all know how to order in a gastro: eggs at brunch, red meat at lunch.
Don’t make the mistake of meeting at Hammersmith Broadway and walking down the high street; it’s a buzz kill. Instead, head to the tucked away Ravenscourt Park station and meander down from there. Like The Engineer, this is a place where you have to kowtow to the staff a bit; there’s a sense (rightly so) that you’re walking into their residence. So throw a beam to the barman when you walk in, ask for (and take) one of his recommendations and hope that they place you somewhere good outside. Since there’s something preppy and cutesy about the place conversation may get a little ‘in ten years I can see some little rascals shouting down my house’. But that’s fine, sometimes. If you start to get tipsy, and the heat of the sun bears down, move inside, pull up a bar stool and stay there till close. Making out would be too much in here but the second you cross the threshold onto the mean streets of Hammersmith heavy pet away.
The street doesn’t sell it.
2. It’s a great day-to-night date. Yes you could choose to pursue the end goal, but you’ll have more fun if you forget about it for now.