Winchmore Hill restaurant inspired by Masterchef

Neil Littman enjoys a lunchtime visit to Buckle & Vaughan

Pan-fried sea bass
Pan-fried sea bass

One thing I’m aware of is the sheer volume of restaurant reviews on online platforms. I often check out comments before deciding whether to visit somewhere new and get concerned if they are overly negative – but then you never know who is writing them and why.

Matters took a strange turn recently when a restaurant ranked number one in Montreal on Tripadvisor turned out not to exist, despite receiving 85 five-star reviews. Fortunately, this month’s restaurant Buckle & Vaughan, which opened in 2014 in Winchmore Hill and takes its name from a 1920s grocery store, is very real!

I had considered reviewing B&V when I first started writing this column in 2021. I have eaten there several times – both lunchtime and evening – and since it was always busy I wasn’t sure if it needed my support. Two years on, I decided to check it out again, having had an excuse to meet a friend for lunch. They have refurbished the interior, which I already thought was well designed. It has two distinct dining spaces including an area that can be closed off from the main restaurant for private parties or special events, including weddings.

There is a glitzy welcome as you enter, in the form of an Art Deco bar and there is an open-plan kitchen where you can see all the hard (and hot) work happening from the main dining area. It’s good to have a stylish restaurant of this calibre for special occasions – and they now also have an outdoor dining area on The Green. B&V serve an inventive seasonal menu with a chef thinking about what kind of food people like and reasons to encourage their customers to make return visits. It’s a formula that is the result of hard work and graft, plus the dining landscape has changed and value-for-money is still a key factor.

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Weekday lunch is the best value and my recent visit exceeded expectations. We were welcomed into a full and noisy dining room at 12.30pm and presented with a mainly modern European set menu (two courses £19.90, three courses £24.90). We ordered starters of duck liver pate with flatbreads and a prawn cocktail with marie rose sauce. Both dishes were served ‘deconstructed’ – all the essential ingredients present but arranged in a less traditional order with a hint of Masterchef in the presentation.

Our mains were pan-fried sea bass with samphire and new potatoes and minute steak with homemade fries, which was accompanied by a rather dangerous looking knife. The deserts were chocolate brownie and tiramisu, both of which evaporated off the plate in seconds.

On the positive side, B&V has an excellent wine list and attentive service. But there is room for improvement in the portion sizes for some dishes and supplements for main course items.

Buckle & Vaughan can be found at 10-12 The Green, Winchmore Hill N21 1AY. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 12pm-11pm, and Sundays 12pm-8pm. Booking is essential at weekends. For more information:
020 8886 2981
Email [email protected]
Visit buckleandvaughan.com

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