Islington wasn’t always patisseries, massive prams and Foxtons. A long time ago this pub, in a very different incarnation, was popular with National Front supporters: the fascists, like the jellied-eel-eaters, are victims of gentrification and have moved on. But the Three Johns – or the Quiet Night, as Chapel Market’s prostitutes might have nicknamed it – is back, and takes its place as the best pub in Angel.
It’s clearly set up for what the trade calls ‘vertical drinking’ – ie there’s loads of space for standing swillers to neck a beer after work. But there’s a pleasant room through the back with plenty of seating if you’re apt to linger.
The choices mainly consist of a vast range of craft beers, from the straightforward Camden Hells (a ‘helles’ – German pale lager – at £3.90 a pint) to the Kalashnikov-round of flavours from the Two Roads Russian Imperial Stout (10.5 percent alcohol, hence the Moscow price of £9 a pint).
Maybe one of the three Johns is Papa John, because the food menu is pizza, or nowt. But that’s a good thing: this is a drinking pub, not an eating one, and it’s far better to do one thing well than several things indifferently. The simple pizza I had with Suffolk chorizo and mozzarella (£9.50) was good, and more than just a beer-sponge.
Angel might not be heaven on earth, but the return of this trinity – be they apostles, kings, guardian angels or simply publicans – is a welcome one.