Tag Archives: pub

Pub Grub: The Crown

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Ignore what it looks like outside – The Crown is not an old man’s pub. It might have the traditional decor, but if you look closer it is actually a pretty great place to have dinner and drinks. Back room is decorated with art by up and coming illustrators, i think it’s a great way for them to gain exposure and perhaps sell some prints. I also saw a few shaggy friends in there which is a big plus in my book.

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The crown happens to be a local to one of my best friends, so I’ve met him here on a Tuesday night after work. What makes The Crown stand out from the rest of pubs in Islington is it’s extensive wine list, so when me and my friend came here for dinner we started that way around: wine first and food pairing after.

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We kicked dinner off with a bottle of Rioja and melt-in-your mouth calamari. Both worried that calamari might have been ‘rubbery’, we were pleasantly surprised as it was just perfect. For mains we got grilled sole with baby potatoes. I have never been one to shy away from fish because of the bones, but sole was extremely bony. I was not able to enjoy my meal as much as i was constantly stopping to pluck them out.

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Again the wine was the star of the course – glass of Merlot and a glass of Bordeaux, both full bodied and rich. And don’t let me forget the grand finale with Tawny port and an English cheese board.

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Dinner over, we stepped outside the pub and were reminded just how dead quiet Barnsbury can get! Great evening overall, we will be back to The Crown soon.

P.S. Did you notice that we have recently introduced a new feature called ‘Pub Grub’?
You can use our ‘cuisine’ search menu to locate all pub reviews with just one click!

The Crown
116 Cloudesley Road, Islington, London N1 0EB
http://crownislington.co.uk/
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Pub Grub: The Thatch

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There was a little white house, with crocked beams and a crocked thatched roof. In that little white house was a quaint pub and an amazing restaurant called The Thatch. Story time over now let’s talk about this fantastic Oxfordshire find.

According to the polls, The Thatch is on the top ten list of gastro pubs to visit in Oxfordshire. So, when Elena and I had our weekend excursion to Blenheim Palace we had to make a dinner stop since we where in the area to check if the poll were correct and if it was worthy of all these awards.

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When you look at the exterior there is one word which springs to mind and that is ‘cute’. When you open the door and walk in and realise that you can touch the ceiling (Elena and I are between 5ft 2-4 inches) another familiar word springs to mind ‘awwwww’. The pub/restaurant has lots of little cosy areas to drink and dine. It even has its own pretty beer garden. The bar itself is small but well stocked. We were very surprised to see a wide selection of non alcoholic cocktails which is unusual for a country pub but being a designated driver it is most welcomed.

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The menu is what you would expect from a good country pub with roasts, fish of the days and a wide selection of veggie options. The waiters are lovely and have the most odd yet helpful manner of presenting the specials. They bring a large blackboard with all the specials written on it and prop it up on a chair next to your table. Once they have been through it with you they leave it for you to go over. A simple yet nice touch. We observed others to make sure it wasn’t just us and well everyone got the same treatment. The waiter also told us that if we were to select the roast specials there would be an endless supply of veggies and gravy as they really want the customers to feel like it’s home style cooking and you can eat as much as you like. It did make us question why all gastro pubs didn’t have this philosophy as that’s what going to the pub should be like, a cosy, homely feel.

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To start with we ordered Tender Beef Croquettes in Spinach to share. Each croquette was backed with herb infused potatoes and the most tender pieces of beef which we used to mop up the beef jus at the bottom of the dish.

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For mains we ordered from the main menu free range chicken breast with spring cabbage, chorizo and sweet potato croquettes. From the specials we ordered the pan fried salmon with mashed potato and broccoli.

The chicken breast was tender and just flaked apart, good sign of quality meat and expert cooking. The croquette were crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, the sweetness of the potatoes really came through which is always a worry when you fry sweet potatoes.

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The pan fried salmon was the favoured dish. The meat had a blackened seal around the pink centre which gave a crackling noise when you broke into it. You cook taste the fish was fresh as the meat just melted in your mouth. The mash was nice and smooth and I couldn’t help but wipe the butter sauce at the bottom of the plate clean with the mash. The broccoli had a nice bite to them and were a vibrant green which lifted the whole look of the dish. Delicious.

The Thatch use seasonal vegetables meaning that they will always be packed with flavour and there is minimal carbon foot print. Go green food! Whoop whoop!

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The quantity of food was perfect meaning that we could also have some dessert. We ordered the creme brûlée and the chocolate tart. I always get annoyed how little creme brûlée you get when you order it or buy it but this time there was no complaint as The Thatch gives you a nice healthy portion to which I couldn’t finish. It had a thick glaze on top which gave me great joy in cracking. The chocolate tart was again a nice healthy portion and to our delight deeply filling, intense, dense yet decedent.

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The Thatch really encapsulates why we love old English pubs so much. The friendly atmosphere, the history within the decor, the amazing attention to detail when it comes to food and the satisfied smiles we leave with having a good meal and all round time at the pub.

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Definitely worth a visit it you are in Oxfordshire.

The Thatch
29-30 High Street, Thame OX9 2AA
http://www.thethatchthame.co.uk/

 

Pub Grub: The Castle

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Just another gastro pub in Islington, you thinking?! Yeah, I suppose, but it’s a good one.

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Decor is trendy – a mixture of break out areas with cushions to lounge on and wooden tables for a more formal affair. No pub is of course complete without a TV, and you will see crowds gather in The Castle when football match is on. In summer they open a neat roof terrace, which might not give you an amazing view but certainly a welcome place to catch sun rays.

I like The Castle on a Sunday – relaxing and cosy. Great spot for a relaxed lunch with friends where you don’t feel rushed to leave your table.

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I ordered gorgeous butternut squash with rocket and sweetcorn. Nicely seasoned, cooked to perfection with soft middle and slightly firm sides. When asked waiter for a cheeky topping of goats cheese she brought me the chunkiest slab of cheese, without charging me extra, which of course I really appreciated.

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My partner in crime had a fish pie which was slightly on the salty side but good solid dish never the less.

I’m not a big drinker, so when I go to a pub I don’t have much of an opinion on their beers. One thing I always judge a bar on is how well they make their Bloody Mary. I prefer the original recipe with horseradish, lemon juice and all the trimmings. And this is exactly how they make them at The Castle! Good stuff.

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If you fancy a straight forward no-fuss Sunday lunch then head to The Castle. It’s right around the corner from me so I am happy to have it down as my ‘local’.

The Castle
54 Pentonville Road, London, Islington N1 9HF
http://www.geronimo-inns.co.uk/london-the-castle

Pub Grub: The White Bear

It was a late a Monday night and I had a crazy craving for pub grub. My boyfriend asked me to jump into his car and we started driving away from Bromley. 20 minutes later out of the pitch black darkness of the night, emerged a very magical 16th century pub. Nearby trees were decorated with strings on lights, and on this nippy night the windows glistened with a cosy warm light. 

The White bear pub has lots of different size rooms where you can have dinner or a drink. Some had fireplaces and long dinner tables fit for a party of 15, some were quirky small rooms where you could have a private chat. It was a Monday night, pub was quiet so we got lucky with a cosy candle lit booth.
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As I have been thinking of pub food all day I didn’t waste any time and ordered a home made shepherds pie. It arrived piping hot with slightly browned top. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t have heaps and heaps of potato mash on top, but good amount of meat and veg filling. Pub grub at it’s best! I was taking my time with the dish, savoring every bite.
My boyfriend went with classic fish and chips accompanied with a well deserved beer for bringing me to The White Bear. His portion was massive, which is all it takes to make the boy happy.
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I fell in love with The White Bear. I don’t know if it was the fact that food was so comforting on such frosty night or the fact that we had fantastic service and we found the atmosphere extremely relaxing. The White Bear is truly the infamous English pub with traditional decor and beautiful location. I need to come back here in the summer to enjoy the romantic outside seating area.
Until then I will be dreaming of that shepherds pie!
The White Bear
Fairchildes Road, Warlingham, Surrey CR6 9PH

The Albion

Islington is full of modern pubs with quirky features. But on a cold Christmas evening 5 friends were in search of old school mulled wine and traditional pub grub and came across the beauty known as The Albion. The Albion is a treasure with fire places, Victorian ceiling beams and beer garden. Little did we know it was an award winning pub.

Ever since the holiday season started it felt like Elena has not stopped on about how much she wants mulled wine and this was certainly a places that delivered. Each glass came with a segment of orange with cloves. It was one of the best mulled wines I have had this season with a perfect blend of citrus and spices. We easily went through four glasses each and still had room for more. At £4 a glass, well we just couldn’t resist. We happily sat there sipping by the fire for hours.

We snacked on triple cooked chips which are very hard to find these days, cheese boards and butter cured bacon.

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The menu was a modern take of traditional pub grub which we love. I ordered a corn fed chicken beast with kale, bread pudding and raisin jus which was very reasonably priced at £12.50. The chicken was crispy and buttery on the outside and the meat was tender. The kale was delicious, not over cooked with the right amount of crunch, it was seasoned to perfection.

Elena ordered the venison which was rare and she loved it. Game meat is defiantly something I want to try on our next pub visit.

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We went all out and had our childhood favourite desserts of sticky toffee pudding and chocolate tarts and I must admit that we had no room to eat but the food was so delicious that we had to try it while we were there, you know the feeling. Memories of my childhood flooded back with every mouthful of that treacle sponge and honey comb ice cream.

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We will definitely be back during the summer to see what magic the The Albion to our summers evening.

Star Rating: *****

The Albion
10 Thornhill Road, London N1 1HW
the-albion.co.uk

Hoxley & Porter

Since I’ve moved to Islington I have made a promise to myself to never visit a restaurant on Upper Street twice until I have tried them all. Well that was silly! Restaurants open and close here as if it was a game of whac-a-mole!

Earlier we have reviewed United Ramen that’s perfect for eat and go noodle. Since then we have had a new addition to the restaurant line up – Hoxley & Porter.

Want to escape rivers of pedestrians on Upper street? Hoxley & Porter is the perfect place. Upper street is no short on themed eateries and bars, but this one stands out with its colonial Britain vibe.

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Vintage wallpaper and lights with lovely leather bound menus – all best things extracted to give you a feeling of upper class carriage dining. If you have ever taken a ride on a luxury train it will certainly hit the right note. If you have never been, then head to the back where a long party table dubbed a dining carriage.

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For a very reasonable price, set menu 2 courses for £12.95 – food was exceptional! We’ve ordered honey glazed goat cheese on toast for start, tomato and crayfish linguini and roasted pumpkin and sage risotto as mains.

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I have to say, I am rather picky when it comes to pasta, especially seafood pasta, having been spoiled by the best in Italy. Holley & Porter this dish was superb. For that alone I will be back!

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Star Rating: ****

Hoxley & Porter
153 Upper Street,
Islington, London,
N1 1R

http://www.hoxleyandporter.co.uk