Tucked away off Clerkenwell Road, this Victorian boozer, with its wood-panelled interior and etched-glass windows, is endearingly shabby. It’s also a proper pub, with outdoor tables at the front and as many drinkers as diners. Three real ales and assorted continental lagers are offered alongside a better-than-average wine list.
Standards seem to have slipped on the food front, however. The menu features several unusual dishes – some more appealing than others. We enjoyed the starter plate of rich, smoky sprats with horseradish and dill potato salad, but the idea of beetroot and hazelnut risotto didn’t appeal. Heritage tomato salad (a starter) produced cold, largely flavourless chunks of tomato and an excess of rocket, while a main course sea trout steak was raw in the centre and the accompanying cold pearl barley too oily and studded with an absurd number of pickled garlic cloves (at least a dozen).
Portions are massive; Desperate Dan would have approved of the size of the steak bavette and chips (at least, both components were decently cooked). Best was a warm, soft chocolate tart with clotted cream. In all, however, fair pricing, a relaxed vibe and friendly, attentive service don’t compensate for the slapdash approach of the kitchen.