The remarkable thing about a restaurant reviewer is visiting parts of London, you would normally never encroach. If you didn’t know Herne Hill was well into the gentrification process, you need to look no further than walking out from the train station. You are greeted by melodic sounds from a free-standing piano by the entrance of the station and if you visit on a Sunday, the Herne Hill street market is filled with stalls selling upmarket cupcakes and artisanal jams.
The recently refurbished pub, The Commercial is situated directly opposite the station. Judging by all the reservation signs laid out on the tables even as early as midday, Sunday lunch is a key ritual for local residents. With cushion-laden banquettes and vintage photos of the area from bygone times, this is the kind of comforting venue you would happily spend your whole Sunday afternoon with your nearest and dearest.
Asparagus is coming into season, so it wasn’t a tricky decision to pick the grilled asparagus starter along with heritage tomatoes. It was very generously portioned with 6 asparaguses along with 3 pieces of toast and heritage tomatoes. It did taste slightly woody and fibrous, perhaps it could have done with some trimming.
For the Sunday roast, I chose the British Isles roast sirloin of beef. Once again it was very well portioned with parsnips, carrots, very sweet tasting beetroot, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes and of course, the sirloin. The gravy was superb and made sure the flavours of the dish were vibrant; however the meat was underwhelming. When you enjoy your sirloin beef, you want it to have a certain degree of chew but not be ‘chewy’ per se. Unfortunately, it was the latter rather than the former, but this isn’t something they can’t fix easily with better sourcing of their ingredients.
Blackforest Eton Mess was a great dish to order for anyone with a sweet tooth, although by its very nature, it probably should be presented in a glass rather than a plate to avoid the chaotic look of the dish. It had the right mixture of whipped cream and meringue to ensure a well-balanced finish.
They have created a conservatory space as well as a mini-outdoor terrace to ensure that The Commercial will be the destination of choice when the sun is out and the temperature rises.