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Jan 6, 2011 06:50 PM

Islington (London) Gastro/ Real Ale Pubs

After the Man U/ Tottenham match and a stop at the Hope and Anchor for nostalgia's sake. Staying in Islington for a night on the 15th and looking to visit local gastro and real ale pubs for small plates and either good real ale or wine. Thoughts on:The Compass, Charles Lamb, Angelic and Draper's Arms. Any other suggestions appreciated.

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  1. Love Charles Lamb, I think it'll fit your specs nicely. The Compass was ok, but was highly impressed with their dessert -- perhaps they have a great pastry chef. If you are willing to go somewhat further, The Bull and Last is outstanding.

    1. I like the Draper's Arms but I haven't much experience of other pubs in Islington. I think the Albion is supposed to be good too.

      1. The Charles Lamb is probably the best on that list, although it is quite small and can get busy. If you're at the Hope and Anchor, you're probably not too far from The Marquess, which has a good selection of drinks and good food. The Duke of Cambridge is not a bad option and has good organic beers, wines and food.

        More on the booze than food side: The Wenlock Arms is probably the best you'll get in London for real ale and The Island Queen nearby is also good.

        1. There are so many good pubs that fit your criteria in Angel and you're right to plan ahead as there are some horrific places too. My views on the above in rough order

          Draper's Arms: Absolutely love this place. The food is top class and the pub itself and the atmosphere are fantastic. The ale is decent and the wine list is good and extensive. It also has the advantage that you can book a table ahead which would be good for you if you're just in town for one night.

          Charles Lamb: My local and possibly my favourite pub in the world. The food is very good although there are usually only a few options each night and I've sometimes dropped in for food and nothing has grabbed me as there are only three mains being served. The ale is excellent but the wine list is a little small compared to the Draper's. It's also tiny and you can't book for fewer than 6 people so with the uncertainty it might not fit the bill for you this time. Drop in for a drink though if you can.

          Compass: Decent gastropub with generous portions and as someone mentioned above it does excellent desserts. I'd say though for somewhere to settle in for the evening I'd choose the other two above it.

          Angelic: Again perfectly decent pub and a nice place to have a drink but food-wise nowhere near the quality of the Draper's. Wine list quite average comparatively too.

          As far as other options go you might want to check out the menus at the following:

          The Marquess Tavern: If meat is you thing the Marquess is a great place. Good wine list and a lovely venue to eat in. You can order your meat by weight/number of people in advance and the beef and lamb there is some of the best I've had in Angel.

          The Albion: Just round the corner from the Draper's and a lovely pub although its big attraction (a massive garden) won't be relevant on a February evening. The dining room is beautiful and the food comparable to the Draper's. My only gripe here is that they are often overwhelmed at the bar, don't have enough staff on and you can end up waiting a ridiculous amount of time for a drink on busy evenings.

          The Duke of Cambridge is over the Charles Lamb side of Angel and does superb organic food and drink (although I'd say their food was perhaps a £ or two overpriced). Nice venue too and a quick stroll from the Island Queen and Charles Lamb.

          Island Queen: I've not eaten here so can't pass comment but this is a very nice pub for a drink.

          Overall I'd say you can't go wrong with most of the pubs on the list but unless you're 6 (and can book the Charles Lamb) I'd overwhelmingly recommend the Draper's Arms or the Marquess given your brief, both of which are bookable.

          Worth bearing in mind that none of these places are far from each other (e.g. Charles Lamb, Duke and Island Queen all very close; ditto the Draper's and Albion) and if it's a nice evening you could do worse than have a drink in 2 or 3.

          PS I hope you're supporting the right (home) team in the football. Otherwise I take it all back and suggest you go here for a brilliant dinner:

          2 Replies
          1. re: ManInTransit

            Thank you for all the help. I am alone and plan to move from one to another. As for the match, I am a neutral PL fan, so just going for the experience.

            Just a note of thanks to The Draper's Arms for tweeting this thread.

            1. re: Trip Klaus

              Excellent well it should be a cracking game for the neutral.

              If you mapped them you'll see that you could do a westerly trip taking in the Albion, Draper's and perhaps the Marquess or go east and do Charles Lamb, Island Queen and Duke of Cambridge.

              As another suggestion - slap bang in the middle of the area we're talking about is The Sampler. Revolutionary wine shop where you can taste 50-odd wines in small measures and open until 9pm on Saturdays I think. Quite a nice way to start the evening off if wine is your thing.

          2. There's also The House - v short walk (downhill!) from Highbury and Islington tube - I've had a few lovely meals there Years ago used to be an old man's boozer called the Belinda Castle my how things change!

            1 Reply
            1. re: themags

              Hmmm, not sure that I would recommend The House which is the closest of those mentioned in this threat to me. On my last visit (which was for brunch at the weekend), they managed to serve Eggs Benedict with a cold Hollandaise sauce. I also find the atmosphere insufficiently 'pubby' (for want of a better word) and do not rate the beer/wine on offer.

              I was at the Albion yesterday - lovely simply food and a pint of Black Sheep kept me happy. You can book tables here which might be a plus - either close to or away from the various fires depending on your mood.

              On the others - I have nothing to add to ManInTransit's excellent post.