Whenever I go to Hampstead to meet friends we invariably end up at the Freemason’s Arms on the south side of the Heath. The big plus for me and lots of others who frequent the gastro-pub is that it is dog-friendly, has good food, and is easily accessible.
The pub was refurbished last year and the décor is stylish but remaining welcoming. The place maximises on places to sit, at the front of the building, in its bar, three restaurant areas and a garden. Anyone ordering food in the bar has to compete with those popping in for a drink. One of the waiter service restaurant areas is dog-friendly. At the weekends, when the sun shines hamburgers are barbecued in the garden. Food seems to be served non-stop throughout the day.
I have always eaten in the bar but with the sun shining and people queuing up for drinks the dog-friendly part of the restaurant was definitely the best option. The Sunday roasts, which includes a vegetarian option was the choice of virtually everyone I saw eating.
With eyes bigger than my stomach, I rather stupidly opted for the trio of roasts consisting of slices of beef, pork and chicken with all its associated trimmings. The roasts, bar the vegetarian option, come with goose-fat roasted potatoes, braised red cabbage, honey-roasted parsnips, cauliflower cheese and a gigantic Yorkshire pudding plus gravy, mustard, apple butter, and crackling for the pork. Far too much food. Sadly, too, my beef came well-done my only grievance but to give the staff credit I was told it was not possible to have it rare. My companion Sharon fared rather better with her roast lamb rump which was served as it should be, pink. Having informed me that her mother used to make the best Yorkshire Pudding she was suitably impressed with theirs, also complimenting the chef on his tasty gravy.
Not realising how big my main course would be, we shared a starter of crispy Karaaga chicken, pieces of deep fried but succulent chicken with a katsu, curry flavoured sauce served with a rice and broad bean salad on a thin slice of mooli. Lots of flavour and delicious.
The desserts all sounded very enticing and included baked Sicilian lemon cheesecake, warm Belgian chocolate Brownie, and a British Cheese Board. Needless to say, neither of us had any space or desire to try them as delicious as they sounded which seemed equally apparent with our fellow diners. Poppy, my dog was, however, very delighted as it was impossible for me to eat all the meat on my plate and on leaving she was presented with a ‘doggie’ bag.
Advisable to book in the restaurant. The bar and garden are not bookable.
The Freemasons Arms
32 Downshire Hill, NW3 1NT
Hampstead T. 020 7433 6811