The Holland

25 Earls Court Road, London, W8 6EB, United Kingdom

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The Holland occupies a space that was formerly a pub called the Princess Victoria, changing hands in September 2022. Heading the kitchen is accountant turned chef Max de Nahlik, who previously was joint owner of Oxalis and formerly had worked as a chef at the Newman Street Tavern, amongst other places.

The short menu offered the kind of things that you might expect to see in a gastropub, such as crab on toast and rib of beef. The wine list had 30 labels and ranged in price from £20 to £109, with a median price of £45 and an average markup to retail price of 2.9 times, which is decent for London these days. Sample references were Niederosterreich Funkstille Gruner Veltliner 2021 at £30 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £11, Niederosterreich, Funkstille Gruner Veltliner 2019 at £49 compared to its retail price of £19, and Chablis 1er Cru Montmains Jean Collet et Fils at £69 for a wine that will set you back £29 in the high street. For those with the means there was Louis Roederer 242 at £89 compared to its retail price of £50, and Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel 2018 at £109 for a wine whose current market value is £52. Corkage was a very reasonable £24.

The dining room had quite well spaced tables in an L shape around the bar, though the lighting was very subdued, to the extent that it was not easy to read the menu at our table unless you had owl-like vision. The a la carte menu was quite short, which I generally find comforting since it suggests that the kitchen is focusing its efforts on a manageable number of dishes. There was a carefully chosen set of mostly 1970s music playing in the background, with songs from artists such as T Rex, Cream and The Doors, which intriguingly was put together by a pair of waiting staff who could not have been born in this era, but showed a lot of thought nonetheless.

Bread was made from scratch each morning and had good texture, served with olive oil and a black garlic puree. Jerusalem artichoke soup came with chive crème fraiche, the soup having good artichoke flavour and was nicely seasoned, albeit the stock could have been a touch more concentrated to my taste (13/20). Black truffle and bacon risotto had reasonable texture and certainly was enhanced by the hint of truffle and the smoky note of the bacon, enhanced with a little grated Parmesan (just about 14/20).

Lemon sole was served on the bone with capers and brown parsley butter. Lemon sole is not a grand fish but it was very accurately cooked, and was nicely enhanced by the capers (14/20). Venison and smoked bacon faggot with cauliflower and broccoli rabe (aka rapini, a relative of the turnip) and some of the cooking juices. This had excellent flavour, the richness of the meat nicely balanced by the earthy flavour of the cauliflower and the nuttiness of the broccoli rabe (14/20). On the side were matchstick fries, capably cooked new potatoes and Brussels sprouts with a hint of chilli and some peanuts, the sprouts perhaps just a tad undercooked to my taste (though that is certainly better than overcooked sprouts).

Cheese was Baron Bigod from Suffolk, a cheese made by a farmer called Johnny Crickmore rather in the style of Brie, that was served in very good condition. This was served with a choice of crackers or bread, and a little chutney. Apple and pear crumble was pleasant enough, made with Bramley apples, though for me the dish would have been improved with a higher ratio of fruit to crumble (12/20). Better was treacle tart, with good pastry and nicely balanced filling (14/20). Coffee was from The Gentleman’s Baristas (an east London roastery), and was very pleasant.

The service was excellent, with a genuinely welcoming manageress and waitress who looked after us really well. The bill came to £78 per person all in. I enjoyed The Holland, with its appealing menu, capable cooking and warm welcome.

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