Sparrowhawk nests in Holly Bush

BACK IN 1851 when the building which became known as the Crystal Palace was first put up, it enclosed elm trees in Hyde Park – and the sparrows which nested there.
A perplexed Queen Victoria asked the Duke of Wellington what should be done about the sparrows.
“Sparrowhawks, Ma’am” was the terse reply.
And that’s how the former Holly Bush pub on the corner of Westow Street and Westow Hill has acquired its new name – coupled with the possibility that sparrowhawks are nesting not too far away.
The new owners are husband and wife team Danielle and Jamie Mason - backed by chef Robin Priestley who was previously head chef at Brinkley’s Wine Factory in Notting Hill.
Danielle and Jamie, who live in Wandsworth, originally came up to Crystal Palace because they had seen The Alma on Church Road was up for sale.
“We didn’t know Crystal Palace that well” says Danielle. “Then we did a lot of market research, going into the local pubs and restaurants and loved the villagey feel to it.
“Our friends were saying ‘You’re opening a pub in Crystal Palace?’. “I don’t think people knew a lot about Crystal Palace and their views were quite outdated. “But we’re thrilled to be here and it was definitely the right move for us.
“And all of our friends who have been here since have loved it. “We’ve changed their minds on Crystal Palace – and we’ll probably be residents ourselves soon enough.”
They prefer to call The Sparrowhawk, which has had a complete refit, a food-led pub rather than a gastro pub. The Sparrowhawk serves bar snacks which change daily but can include home-made scotch eggs, home-made sausage rolls and home made pork scratchings.
A typical menu can include cauliflower soup, deep fried goats cheese or half a pint of prawns among its starters, spiced lamb stews, chicken Kiev or home made burger as the main course and chocolate espresso tart Good Taste cheese and biscuits with onion marmalade among its puddings. And there are roast dinners on Sundays.

  2 comments for “Sparrowhawk nests in Holly Bush

  1. SteveG
    November 8, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Good luck to them I say. It may not be to everyone’s taste but at least one benefit is that the other pubs in the area have been forced to smarten up.

    I did have some issues including the high price of beer with this place but I did receive a nice response from them saying they will look into it. See the response below.

    Our beer is expensive unfortunately as we are tied to a brewery and have set our prices as low as possible without comprising our margins.

    Realising that we can’t compete cost wise on beer, we have tried to offer quality wines at competitive prices.

    It is also worth noting that all our food is prepared on the premises, that goes for bread, puddings, sauces you name it. Again we think our food is competitively priced and hope this, together with our wines goes someway to counter balancing the cost of our beers.

    Notwithstanding the above we intend to take stock of all our pricing in the New Year and the cost of beers will certainly be looked at and reduced if at all possible.

    It does get noisy in the pub due to all the hard services there are. We are looking to increase the amount of soft fabric in place to soak up the noise although I must admit we haven’t decided on a final solution yet ( any help on the matter much appreciated).

    Whilst we feel our first two months have been a tremendous success we are also aware that there a numerous improvements to be made if we are to get the pub into a position where we want it.

    For example we are:

    · Looking to improve the beer garden with a canopy, heaters and more sturdy furniture

    Investing in a function room on the first floor

    · Training our staff so that as many customers as possible go away satisfied with the service they have been given

    · Ensuring our food is consistently delivered & presented

    · Introducing a pre fix menu early in the week

    · Opening for breakfast

    · Expanding our Menu

    · Installing blinds / canopy to the windows to block out the glare

    · Looking to squeeze in a few more comfy seats

    · Going to address the acoustics

    We would like to do all of the above as quickly as possible but as you can appreciate these things all take time, planning and money.

  2. Steve Wilkes
    November 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    That’s all well and good but charging well over £4 for a Guinness is utterly indefensible.

    Are other pubs not “tied to a brewery” then? Because even in Belgravia and Soho you don’t pay that much.

    I’d suggest looking into a different deal so you can charge something even vaguely in line with the other pubs in the area. Even the White Hart seems reasonable after a devastatingly expensive (and not-to-be-repeated) visit to your pub.

    If the Alma gets its refurb right (i.e. not another bloody gastropub) then you might be in trouble.

    This isn’t Notting Hill, it’s Crystal Palace. Just a reminder.

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