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Hunter S

London

What bad craziness is this? A new bar named after Hunter Stockton Thompson? Is that advisable? And is it even possible to compose a balanced review of a bar named after the greatest journalist that ever lived, a man who said that objective writing is ‘a pompous contradiction in terms’?

The temptation then is to file copy at the last possible minute before deadline: bash out a dangerously biased account, then feverishly jam pages into the mojo wire and let those goddamn perverts in the Time Out office scratch together something semi-coherent from my notes… But journalists can’t work like Hunter any more.

The sign outside the bar has the motif of Thompson’s always-on Aviators, a pair of crossed pistols and a Steadman-esque bat (the same owners run the Hemingway near Victoria Park: they seem to have a thing for suicidal, alcoholic American writers). But once inside, the Hunter theme stops abruptly. Is this a bad thing? Is the nearby Daniel Defoe, for instance, stuffed with ‘Robinson Crusoe’ memorabilia? No, but to call a pub Hunter S is quite a statement.

This bar’s not a fiery tomb of magic, mystery, and myth, but a pleasant, comfortably furnished, dimly-lit neighbourhood drinking and dining spot in a restrained art deco style, its walls decorated with some enormous and feral bits of taxidermy. There is a bottle of Wild Turkey behind the bar, but it’s hidden behind a row of upmarket bourbons. The men’s toilet is stiff with framed pornographic prints of women: apart from that, everything else is rather civilised.

Food is the better gastropub sort and the menu is written with imagination – pork and beef kofta, for instance, or pigeon with cauliflower puree and almond oil – although there are pubbier options such as fish and chips or beef burger for traditionalists. The beer choice isn’t too bad – bottles include the Aussie Coopers, Brooklyn Lager and a few other Americans, although the three real ales (Doom Bar, Coaster and Pride) were all unavailable on my visit.

The man himself will not be spinning in his grave over all this, of course, as his cremated ashes were blown into a million pieces in a post-mortem firework display. I can’t help thinking though that he’d find this pub oppressively safe and would have to concoct his own strange and savage version with violent barmen, hallucinogen-spiked cocktails and dead-eyed waitresses. If you want to really pay tribute, eat a button of peyote, drink a bottle of whiskey, lock yourself in a hotel room for two days and shoot up the television set; if you want a nice meal with drinks in a delightful part of Islington, Hunter’s your man.

Venue name: Hunter S
Contact:
Address: 194 Southgate Rd
London
N1 3HT
Opening hours: Open 4pm-midnight Mon-Thur; noon-1am Fri, Sat; noon-midnight Sun Food served 4-10pm Mon-Thur; noon-10pm Fri-Sun
Transport: Tube: Dalston Junction Overground

Average User Rating

2.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:7
LiveReviews|17
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N J

The food was over priced, inedible and stingy portions

The staff were the rudest staff I have ever come across

The manager was unprofessional, told me he was unable to resolve our issue even though he was the manger

I was advised after complaining not to return as a way to avoid being disappointed again. Very professional way to deal with a complaint by a manager!

Avoid this place

Laura

Well, if you don't mind a drink and food surrounded by taxidermia you will probably like this place. Personally I thought that there are far too many stuffed animal looking down and over to feel confortable. A drink and I left to never return...

Ed

I would say the term 'Hygge' the Danish use would sum this place up. Delightful discovery on a cold day.

Ed D

My main issue is that having booked the table 4 days ahead for a friday night, upon a rival they'd given our table away because we were "3 minutes late". By my watch (which, admittedly, might have been a couple of minutes out) we were on time - otherwise I'd have called! However, I really feel any decent restaurant a few minutes minutes either way. So we had to wait 10 minutes for a crappy table in the bar area by the kitchens. The food was on the better side of pub food, but nothing really grabbed my attention and it's a little overpriced (£16 for the sea bass and potatoes - was hoping some greens would be included but they were additional sides) Won't be going back in a hurry

Jonathan Murphy

I like to think we live in a world where vibe and ambience can be achieved without going for outlandish and cliche'd interior design motifs. A cap must be tipped to acknowledging the great Hunter S Thompson in the naming of this place but as far as credibility goes, that's about it. Dead animals hang from every available wall so vegetarians will be happy to know that while they chomp down on their £12.50 egg and carrot burger they can sit in full view of antelope heads, skinned bears and mutant rabbit-deer. Rude staff, overpriced drinks and a bad vibe. Maybe as a vegetarian I'm biased but this place is a nightmare.

PP

High turnover of staff at this good eatery. When you meet the owners you'll understand why. I feel sorry for anyone who has to work for these cartoon characters. I clearly overheard them berating several staff members in full view of the bar, for something that was clearly their fault. One of them called me 'bruv' when I interjected to say how unprofessional I thought they were being, 'don't listen in bruv' in actual fact. Not going back - ever. Oh and the taste of chlorine in the San Pel was a giveaway boys.

Wool

The food has never disappointed, and the ambience is marvellous.

Steven Gradely

i am a frequent customer of this pub and have to say I've never had a bad night in it. Having been a regular since they first opened I've got to know the guys who own the place a bit and some of the young bar staff that work there who have always been nothing short of superb. I am writing this review not only to praise the pub but also to disparage the stupidity of the person writing before me. Food in a Gastro-Pub is slightly more expensive than normal pubs, don't like it? Go to Wetherspoons. Also, I was there when the dog was in, he was a puppy that could barely walk properly let alone sniff the rib eyes. I saw this person creating a fuss and in all honesty it just seemed pathetic. The waitress handled it magnificently. I'd understand someone being offended at the sight of a rabid Doberman trawling through the kitchen, but a harmless, mostly motionless puppy is not something to complain about. Love this place. Keep up the good work guys!

SP

I had a burger, and it cost £12.75.... and a pint was £4.50. Not really very good value. But worse of it was the health and safety violatoins. They had a dog going back and forth into the kitchen area. It really made me wonder what other health and safety they might be overlooking. Won't be going back.

CJ

Love this pub. Grown up haunt away from hipster hell of Hoxton and Dalston. As afternoon moves into evening, ambience changes into feeling like you're in a film from the 40's where anything could happen. Decadent decoration and low-key feee the background jazz and classical music played at an easy level add to the vibe. Best pub toilets ever, I could have stayed in there a while and that's just the ladies!

John Beck

Very rude bar staff, who I saw get angry at two separate customers when the staff themselves were at fault! The dead animals all over the walls are a bit much too

Miranda

Decor is great, staff friendly and attentive, but it's let down by the food sadly. Avoid the veg option roast at all costs!

Ronald

Haphazardly placing taxidermy amongst furniture from a Victorian brothel is a truly baffling drinking experience. An awful pub for awful people.

Carlos

Great looking pub/ bar. The furnishings on the inside is some of the nicest I've seen in London. The staff was friendly and very good if not a bit over eager at times to help. The food is good not great but the prices are London average and to me it's more of a place to wet your whistle and hang out rather than eat. Decent booze selection, would like to see a more adventurous beer selection but the selection of ales and lager is also above London average with an impressive selection of spirits at the bar. Overall for the amount of time and effort ( and money) put into the bar coupled with the friendliness of the staff 3 stars seems an insult to me. You would be happy to have this place as your local.