© Dan Malpass
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Thu Nov 8 2012
A Mexican wave of new bars has recently opened along Upper Street. I’ve visited all of them, and been disappointed by their mediocrity. The rock bar made my ears bleed, while another had the sort of hospitality I’d expect in a prison camp.
Then, some respite; a bar – open since October – that looks good, where the staff are friendly, the eclectic music selection is interesting but not too intrusive, and where they make some effort with the cocktails. Welcome to Public House.
Not everything was perfect. The kitchen’s inability to produce simple bar snacks, on a quiet night, in less than 45 minutes was baffling. I had no idea that potato wedges, a platter of smoked duck slices and some fried black-eyed bean cakes could present such a challenge to a kitchen. The wait wasn’t worth it, and it became clear that this is not a destination for an evening meal. But as a bar, it works – the reason for this four-star review.
Low lighting, photographic artworks of urban architecture, drippy candles, deep leather sofas and whimsical chairs give it a cosy feel (perfect for dates). The cocktails cost £7.50 each, and there’s a brief but adequate wine list too. Our bottle of Cruz de Piedra garnacha, a warm Spanish red, cost £16.50; if you stroll down to Oddbins you can pick up a similar bottle for £6.49. Mark-ups of this sort are common in bars, so this isn’t neccessarily a black mark; at least it was a decent wine.
A cocktail made with rhubarb bitters, soda water, rosé Champagne and pink grapefruit oils was served in a coupe glass, a real girl-pleaser; they’ve named it the Johnny Depp. Slightly more robust was a Bloodhound, a variant on the usual recipes but still recognisable for its red berry fruits, vermouth and gin. I don’t think the cocktail makers here are going to be winning any shaker-maker awards, but these were decent cocktails nonetheless.
The main reason most people go to a bar though is for a convivial environment, and Public House has this in spades. On our visit, several thirty-something couples – too mature for rock bars or lager drinking – were also blinking in surprise at this discovery, just off the well-beaten path that is Upper Street.
Accepts Time Out CardSee great offers available to all the Time Out Card holders
25% off food
Booking essential, please quote Time Out Card. Must order a minimum of 2 courses per person. Valid for parties of 2 or more. Open from 12pm on Sundays.
This offer can be redeemed on Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun between 5pm and midnight.
Public House 54 Islington Park Street
- Venue phone:
020 7359 6070
- Opening hours:
Open 5pm-midnight Mon-Fri; midday-midnight Sat, Sun
Tube: Angel tube or Highbury & Islington tube/rail
Meal for two with drinks and service: around £60
- 54 Islington Park Street
- 020 7359 6070
- 54 Islington Park Street
- Public House