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"To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day."

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Entries in Islington (3)


Spring menu launch at Public House

In January I went to Public House in Islington for the first time. I was there on a deal from Top Table: 2 courses for £10 off the a la carte menu, a deal I thought too good to be true. But it was true and it was good. Very good indeed.

I got invited back to the launch of the new spring menu last night. This time the food wasn’t just good value – it was free.

A free dinner for me and a friend, nice. I took my friend, Jen, as she was the one who recommended Public House to me in the first place.

The chef had selected three starters, three mains and a dessert to showcase the spring menu and each table was given a few of each dish to share amongst themselves. This presented a slight problem at first since the other end of the table had two dishes between six and we somehow ended up having to share one between five. This was made more difficult by the fact that two of the five (a) did not like talking to strangers, (b) did not like sharing with strangers, and (c) did not seem to like each other very much either. Thankfully for us, it all became too much for them and they left after the second starter, after which we were three, me, Jen and a fellow foodie called John who was writing a review for London Larder. 

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Two for ten Tuesday at Public House

It is rare that I get round to writing up a casual dinner date in a local restaurant. It is even rarer that I do so the next day, but I just couldn’t believe the amazing value I experienced at Public House last night.

As I said, it was a casual dinner date and so I did not take notes or spend a lot of time making sure I got the right photos, but looking back on the meal this morning I felt it warranted some attention.

I have only recently started using Top Table; as someone who usually knows exactly where I want to eat and who is willing to pay a premium to eat there, I didn’t think the deals would appeal. I was wrong.

Last week I was supposed to be taking someone to dinner in exchange for their worldly wisdom. It had to be easy to get to from Kings Cross and not too expensive, since I haven’t got a lot of money at the moment. I was pondering various cheap and cheerfuls I know in Islington when my friend, Jen, piped up:

“What about Public House? They often have really good deals on Top Table.”


“Any good?”

“Yeah, I’ve been there a few times. The food’s great and they do nice cocktails, which I suppose is where they make their money.”


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Sunday lunch at The Drapers Arms

A rather unappealing and geeky habit of mine is buying the latest good food guides, reading them cover to cover and marking venues according to how much I want to try them out. It all started out quite casually with my marking a venue of interest with a small asterisk, but I soon had so many asterisks that they became meaningless and I had to invest in a more rigorous marking system:

  • A star with a circle around – absolutely must go, life depends on it
  • A star – may self harm if miss out
  • An asterisks – yes but no but
  • A dot – not going to lose any sleep over it
  • Nothing – does this really have any place in the guide?

I now apply this to all my guides, although to save some face I should say that I have only got as far as reading and marking the North and Central London parts of the Which? Good Food Guide 2010 (it covers the whole of the UK, I am not that sad!) and the corresponding chapters in the Michelin London Restaurants and Hotels 2010.

This is the first year that I have bought the Michelin, always having assumed them to err on the side of pretentious and pricey, so I was pleasantly surprised to see so many entries for gastropubs. One such pub is The Drapers Arms, a recommendation corroborated by the Good Food Guide and further substantiated by a star with a circle round in both books (consistent starring and circling on different occasions with no memory of having done so equals extra credibility).

So it was that when my Mum and I found ourselves at the end of a very long line for a table at Ottolenghi, we said a collective “blow this” and headed to The Drapers.

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