For somewhere so highly desirable and perfectly lovely, Stoke Newington doesn’t traditionally have many brilliant pubs or restaurants, although that’s starting to change. The cynic might say that the stalwarts who established themselves as neighbourhood favourites a decade or more ago then settled back comfortably on their laurels. But in the quiet terraces between Church Street and Dalston, something different stirs.
The Prince closed in 2014, and after an intensive going-over is open again with a new look. There’s unusual industrial lighting, herbs growing in the garden, a parquet-floored bar, neat tiling – and no brewery tie. As a free house it can stock and sell any beer it likes: in this case, loads from London. So you might find Bermondsey’s Partizan Saison Ginger, certainly not cheap at £3 a half; or a more straightforward Prince house pilsner at £4 a pint.
Through the back is a smart dining room looking over the compact but peaceful garden; but you can eat in the pub too, and you should. The food’s far better than the usual pub grub, and pleasingly avoids the seen-it-all-before US diner stuff. Instead, it ranges from Jersey oysters to more complex dishes such as courgette and butter-bean cassoulet or lamb’s liver with green sauce.
The residents of these quiet terraces have taken the Prince to heart: it’s busy most nights. A couple more gastropubs like this and Stokey really would be highly desirable.