After decades of being a hub for travellers, King's Cross is becoming a destination in its own right. Case in point: the number of bars and pubs in the area. Bar Pepito it an Andalucían sherry bar and VOC is modelled on a seventeenth-century punch house.
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Venue says: “Mention 'Mother's Day' and receive a complimentary cocktail with each main meal this Mother's Day. Full T&Cs on our website.”
From Fluid Movement, which brought us Purl and the Worship Street Whistling Shop, VOC occupies a smallish, cosy space in one of north London’s most restaurant-intensive precincts.
In Clerkenwell, this place would almost go unnoticed. Here, amid a Legoland of housing estates and shops catering chiefly to custom from the Indian subcontinent, it’s practically miraculous. Comprising a simply furnished room of stripped wood and tables occupied by after-work regulars, this corner pub enjoys considerable local status for being a smart but unpretentious spot for a decent pint, a natter and a Sunday roast. Früli, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Erdinger, Amstel, London Pride and Staropramen pour from the beer taps lining the long bar counter, staffed by friendly foreigners. Festival tables outside offer extra seating on sunnier days. Standard gastropub fare is well put together and fairly priced.
The latest in Barrio’s series of colourful cocktail bars is full of the unexpected. There’s a caravan parked on a plinth that’s been turned into a seating area, and lights made out of washing machine drums dangle precariously overhead. It’s all a bit quirky – often unnecessarily so – but it does make the place feel fun. Equally unexpected is the stuff that comes out of the kitchen. The ceviche was delicate and delicious, spiked with pomegranate and coriander; the pork belly sliders were sensational, each bite beginning with a slick of sweet potato jam before giving way to rich, smoky meat. I could have had another ten of them. It’s a shame the same can’t be said about the cocktails. The four Ol’ Dirty Bastards we ordered were completely inconsistent in size and taste, and failed to pack the punch you’d expect from a drink containing bourbon, rum and not a lot else. Maybe unexpected isn’t such a good thing after all.