Look, our seasonal affective disorder and permanently rinsed overdrafts would love it if we casually broke up with London and set ourselves up in some deeply kitsch caravan on a continental beach. This would allow us to replace our prime hobby, Going To The Pub, with something like windsurfing or metal detecting or Going To The Beach Club. Alas, we are suckers for a public house. We need them. We love them. We spend an alarming amount of time in them bitching about the rental market and saying 'go on then, one more pint'. There is only one way in which our beloved boozy happy places can fall short and that’s the food. Well, not on our watch and importantly, not at the Norfolk Arms.
Outside of saying that the food here is entirely worth your time, it’s hard to actually pin down the cuisine at this King’s Cross pub, but please do stay with us. Generally speaking, if it’s something you can picture yourself eating whilst wearing an entirely obnoxious sun hat, it’s on the menu. A delightful sun-soaked tour of Spain by way of XXL piquillo peppers, creamy manchego, and sizzling gambas al ajillo. Then a few whistle-stop sips of Sancerre and you’re on to Greece for Grandma’s rich tomato fest meatballs, dates stuffed with goat’s cheese, and the kind of tzatziki that will make you feel like you’ve just had the best kiss of your life and the other participant just so happened to be a clove of garlic. All of these holiday-ready dishes will be served with familial generosity and a mandatory side of even more tzatziki because this is a pub that runs on strong drinks as well as homely slap-dash portions, garlic, and the perfect amount of candlelight.
That’s the other thing that sets the Norfolk Arms apart from many of its sticky-floored counterparts, this is a pub that you can bring a date to without them instantly presuming that you forgot to book somewhere nicer. Sure, it still smells mildly of Guinness and looks like a pub, but one that has a subscription to House and Garden. Look up from your marble table and you’ll see artsy foliage and strings of garlic, mixed in with the classic comfort of a Victorian molded ceiling. You’re not going to hear any Oasis blaring through the speakers but you can still expect your quintessential pub soundtrack of high-decibel conversations shouted between colleagues and the wholesome sight of someone tipsy nipping for a cigarette before their best mate gets back from the toilet.
Part-time pub, part-time restaurant and full-time no-brainer choice for dinner, Norfolk Arms has figured out how to balance our need for pints alongside a need for somewhere cute for your friend’s last-minute birthday. Between the stained glass windows and the free flowing ale is a place that will work just as well for a casual mid-week catch up over patatas bravas as it will a schmoozy Rioja-fuelled date night involving a Spanish cheese board and, fingers crossed, someone willing to kiss you after consuming a breath-bending quantity of tzatziki. Turns out you don’t need to choose between your love of pubs and your desperate urge to abscond to the sunshine. At the Norfolk Arms, you can have both.
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The magic of the pub comes down to a lack of commitment. You’re welcome for one pint or (with good behaviour) ten and their signature dip trio is the edible equivalent. A bright, light combination of extra creamy hummus, a memorable babaganoush, their must-order tzatziki and pitta bread hot from the oven, you can merrily pick at this if you’re not in the market for a full-blown meal.
We stan a seafood and meat medley. Add some hummus to the party and you’ve got yourself one of the finest and most sophisticated date night sharing dishes for just over £15. The chorizo really adds some spice and texture to the octopus.
People are always calling meat tender like there’s a bunch of steaks out there singing lovesick ballads. Sadly, we can’t think of a better word to describe this lamb. It will require a minimum of eight solid chews but you won’t resent a single one of them because the Norfolk Arms understands the importance of generous herb factor. Plus, it comes on a bed of their winning oh-so garlicky tzatziki.
Arguably one of the largest spanakopitas we’ve come into contact with. There are better things on offer here, but for under a tenner this feta and flaky pastry pie is surprisingly filling and a no-brainer order. If you’re looking for something with the spirit of summer to nibble on whilst sitting outside on a picnic bench and pretending your ankles aren’t cold, this Greek classic will do the job.
We could merrily eat forty of these and give minimal thought to whether that much honey and feta is good for us. They come with the ultimate Norfolk Arms poster child, the tzatziki.
Dear Grandma of the Norfolk Arms, we hope this food rundown letter finds you well. We are enquiring as to whether you are in the market for more grandchildren. We can offer fleeting phone calls, Boots bath sets on your birthday, and an endless assortment of compliments for your signature meatballs. All our love, The Infatuation.
You get the message. These meatballs are the kind of hearty dish you crave every time someone breaks your heart or an apocalyptical rain storm strikes the one day you forget your umbrella. Classic and undeniably comforting.
Spanish Cheese Platter
Formal shoutout to the apple chutney and the rich manchego. A delightful dairy fest that just makes sense.