Bars and pubs in Clerkenwell
The old red cow herself, if she wasn’t apocryphal, probably didn’t have a pleasant visit to this pub’s manor – Long Lane was an ancient cattle route to Smithfield meat market. You can see the cupolas, domes and reliefs of London’s temple of butchery through the front windows of this refurbed Victorian site, which no longer uses its antique ‘Ye Olde’ prefix and has turned its focus to serving very good beer.
Pristine mosaic tiling and etched glass scream ‘sensitive refurbishment’ from the moment you arrive at this stalwart. Inside, the dark wood bar is lined with pewter tankards (don’t expect to be given one if you want to drink outside); to the back is the Fox’s Den, a series of intimate booths used for both drinking and dining.
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155 Bar & Kitchen
Opposite Farringdon’s famous bird – The Eagle, that is – exists a conservative and relatively quiet restaurant. Bow-tied waiters and bare, whitewashed walls hint at a lack of invention, but for proof to the contrary, try the pork belly. The delicate meat paddled in a flavour-boosting chicken jus and, while the rainbow chard was more decorative than anything else, a dusting of popcorn fragments over the pork’s rind showed 155 can have a bit of fun. This didn’t translate with the pumpkin ravioli, mind – well-made as the pasta was, the filling bore a dull, earthy flavour. Food was generally rich or subtle, with little in-between. The mushroom consummé, as dainty as a Borrower’s stamp collection, hardly needed the waiter’s gravy boat theatrics at the table. Pig’s head croquettes were encumbering for a starter, but well done. Desserts, if over-sugared, satisfied. Chocolate fondant cloyed the palate, while the sticky toffee pudding was just the right side of toothsome. Just don’t expect any help with the wine list. The waiter, bless him, ran a finger down the page and offered nothing more than, ‘this one’s nice; this one’s good’. With its dependable food and smart look, 155 is prime business lunch territory. Bring a colleague who knows his chablis from his chardonnay and you’ll do fine.