Wenlock & Essex

Bars and pubs Islington
3 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(15user reviews)

This big bar rocks an urban bordello and burlesque look with its ruby-red ceiling, tassel lampshades and candelabras, with a solid Wild West saloon-style bar top on which to lean, and the separate ‘Satan’s Circus’ mini-club with dancefloor. But the whole thing kind of works. Sort of.

The cocktail list is classic and concise, with mai tais, margaritas and martinis all at £7, while wines are confined to half a dozen reds and whites. The great draughts include wheat beers and lager from Bavaria, a Canadian IPA, a couple of cask ales and a trio of fine brews from Camden Town Brewery; bottles cover a similar geographical spread.

Smaller dishes include ploughman-esque ‘pincho’ dishes such as pickles and pork pies, while larger plates take in butternut and pea risotto, venison pie or mussels and chips. The £5.50 ‘Workers Lunch’ (noon-4pm) includes a half of Camden beer; brunches are big on Saturday; and on Sunday, it’s roast o’clock.


Venue name: Wenlock & Essex
Address: 18-26 Essex Rd
N1 8LN
Opening hours: 10.30am-midnight Mon-Thur; Fri, 10.30am -2am Sat; 10.30am-midnight Sun
Transport: Tube: Angel
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Average User Rating

2.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:2
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Went to the Wenlock & Essex for a birthday party but I did not try the food. I've heard a lot of good things about it but I can only comment on the drinks and the club. 
The beverage prices are normal London prices but the bar was really crowded everytime I went so you do end up spending quite a while there which can be a bit annoying.

I visited the place on a Saturday night so I guess you have to expect the crowd but it wasn't the most pleasant especially on the dancefloor as you only have a tiny tiny room where you can dance...
If you don't mind busy places the atmosphere is quite good and the music wise expect quite a lot of R'n'B and commercial sing along songs.


Popped in here when nearby lunch plans feel through during the tumbleweed time period between Christmas and New Year and was unexpectedly a little bit charmed by it. The suggestion from some other reviewers that it's a bit of a mish-mash of styles inside is true but it didn't bother me in the slightest because the service was great, the pizzas were brilliant and I always like being surprised by somewhere in my neighbourhood I thought I had pigeon-holed which then turns out to prove me wrong!

Antipasti was fresh and utterly delicious while pizzas were super light and crispy, the base thin enough to not leave you in a food coma but sturdy enough to prop up the generous toppings; the lamb with harissa, olives and radicchio was beautifully spiced with the addition of those crunchy pink leaves making this the prettiest pizza I've ever had. Big enough to keep the hungriest stomachs happy - and by that, I will always mean me in any party of people - and great value with each one under £10, I would 100% head back here to try more of the flavours on offer. Bar-staff were friendly, service was prompt and in nearly five years of living in N1, I've rarely seen it quiet meaning I'm obviously not the only one who's got a bit of a soft spot for this Essex Road pub.


The Wenlock & Essex was stumbled upon out of desperation one very quiet and uneventful Saturday evening in Islington. I would not return. The whole place had a really cheap feel to it, the Santa's Circus looked grotty and very overrated (almost embarrassing) and for some reason the doormen weren't allowing any men in!!! When my friend and I got in, we expected to see a fairly even ratio of men and women but there were far more women. I don't understand that at all and it seemed very unfair. At least there was no cover charge. Bit cringe for me overall!


Part of the ultimate Upper St bar crawl, the Wenlock is one of my after-work favourites. Not sure I'd go for food having read the reviews below, but it's fantastic for drinks and I've had a lot of good memories in this place (so this place has slightly more emotional value for me!) The main burlesque-styled space is comfy (in a casual, weathered kind of way) and pretty big, meaning there is always somewhere to sit or perch. I love the booths towards the back, which can be reserved some evenings.

The best bit about the Wenlock though? 100% the Satan's Circus room, which opens later in the evening. A multicoloured dancefloor, plenty of cheesy tunes, a great young crowd of the local workforce, and the fact you can leave your bags on the side without worrying too much about their safety makes a Friday night out at the Wenlock my first choice!

Top tip: Order a G&T, it comes with an entire half grapefruit... that's all the dinner you need right?


Review is just for the pizza as that was the purpose of my visit.

I ordered the butternut squash and kale and the courgette pizzas for takeaway. I was pretty excited about the aforementioned ingredients and price tag- no more than £7.50 for a pie. Unfortunately I was told a few minutes later the courgette had run out. No bother I thought. I asked for butternut squash to replace the courgette topping, thinking all the rest of the courgette pizza ingredients- tomato sauce, goat cheese etc- would remain. Apparently my order was totally misunderstood bc when I got home and opened the boxes (lesson learned to check orders before you leave!) I saw I was given two butternut squash pizzas. Arghhhh.

This might be ok if the pizzas had flavour. But they didn't. Despite the crispy kale and chunks of ricotta, it's an incredibly bland pie. The only saving grace is the nice sourdough pie base- sour and chewy.

So now I have tons of extra pizza I don't want. Sigh, once again pizza in London fails me.


Not the type of bars I'd usually go but had a pizza there it was a big thumbs up. Mellow mid-week comfort food 8 out of 10


The Wenlock isn't going to light any fires under the world, but as a post-work boozer it ain't bad. Unlike other pubs in the area, you can almost always guarantee a seat at 5pm just because of its size.  

The drinks are sufficient and although the bar service can be slow when busy, I've always found them friendly and helpful. The food, too, is substantial and very edible.

The Satan's Circus area is a tad odd - a back room that turns into a club - but they're generous with lending it out to charity groups for fundraisers. It's slightly odd to play Texas Hold'em under neon lights of gyrating females, but I like to think it adds to the charm.

Both me and my cousin were invited to this fine establishment (not really) by two of his friends who were celebrating their birthdays together. After explaining that we were invited, having both hosts confirm it to both the management and the "security" team, and proving via ID that I am an adult, I was denied entrance for being under 21 while my cousin would be let in without an ID. That was after being forced to stand outside in the pouring rain for a good 20 minutes by the incredibly unhelpful and rude "security" staff. Finally, after having both girls come outside to collect their gifts, we went to a different shop down the road, and had a wonderful time. And that shop, as with most shops of this type (pubs, bars, clubs) had helpful and law knowing gentlemen instead of demented, hard-assed unhelpful and rude control freaks. 

Avoid at all costs, as the law doesn't seem to matter for them, and make sure that you spend your money on a shop that's actually worth it.


This place is loud, packed on weekends…and a lot of fun! Cocktails are not the best I've ha but certainly get you in the mood for a dance in Satan's Circus dance floor next door, with its mirror ceiling and flashing lights floor. It's perfect for big groups as it is huge, and once you've had your fill of chatting you could move through to the dance floor. Definitely not for those who are hard of hearing though!


We went to this pub for a friend's birthday because the pub down the road was charging £5 entry to get in at 8.30pm! It's a fair sized pub with a free cloak room and plenty of room to stand at the bar and have a drink or sit and eat at one of the many large tables, but they don't serve Jack Daniel's and mainly local beers like Camden Hells. There's a mini-club at the back called Satan's Circus which I popped my head into but it was so rammed at about 11pm and the light up dance floor made the place look rather cheap compared to the pub itself.


Satans Circus is the name of the dance floor and if that's what hell is like, then it's much worse than we feared!

The W&E is a strange one. The bar area is really relaxed, the décor is chilled and funky (you have to go through a revolving door to get in!). The staff are usually on good for and happy to help with any request - I like some extra lime in my G&T, it's not a sin but some bar staff would think you'd asked them to go and grow a lime so it's extra fresh! There's even this strange little area by the toilets that has a fake Komodo Dragon in it.

The music is cool - but only in a way that it's absolutely not cool at all. Extra cheesy one moment, chart topping the next, and then one of those songs you consider "your jam," despite only knowing the first line and the chorus. The DJ doesn't take requests, do shout outs, or talk ever; so you kinda wonder why they have to be there at all but it's nice to have a presence!

However, the dance floor area is absolutely disjointed. Satans Circus is a strange mix, of naked neon women, multi-coloured light up flooring, and a mirrored ceiling. It kinda works but at the same time it doesn't at all. You won't be busting any shapes, mostly because you'll be compacted in to the person next to you's armpit - I could've gone a whole lot more visceral there, but you're welcome because I didn't!

But the cloakroom is free, so if like me you like to be prepared for your cold, early morning hunt for cheap fried chicken it's an extra bonus. You're guaranteed to have a good time, but do try and avoid the dance floor for as long as you can, it'll quickly sober you up and until about 1am the average age lingers at around 37.

A huge cavernous, circus of a place. Drinks weren't bad (better than expected given the garish decor) and the atmosphere was a bit limp. Would probably only go back if it were with a big group as the lack of "ambience" (said in a Micky Flannagan voice) was a little strange for such a large place. 

It seems to have some sort of club attached to it?! Not really sure of what it wants to be...

Went there last night. The door staff were lovely, but it went downhill from then! The atmosphere wasn't bad but the bar staff were slow and often seemed out of their depth (two of us were asked if we wanted our meals rare, medium or well done- we were having pork and fish!) The menu looked amazing but food is overpriced and portions small. You definitely need at least two courses. "Slow cooked pork belly, seared scallop, roasted celeriac and squash, sautéed peas and mushrooms, port jus" for £15 sounded tempting but while the pork portion was decent there was approximately a tablespoon each of the other components. No exaggeration, the veg were cut into small dice. It tasted good, granted, but the pork was excessively chewy and sadly had no crackling. It was also served on a slate. A SLATE. A dish consisting of peas and gravy on a plate with no lip? Suffice to say my skirt is in the washing machine now. The kitchen obviously has decent chefs, so this place needs to stop trying to be cool and just produce good food at a more sensible price.

Went there last night for a bday and was infuriated by how useless the bar staff are. Soooo slow and couldn't work the bar to save themselves - where do they find these morons. This place could make so much more money and provide a better experience if they hired some decent, functioning, human beings :)

I really like it here. The food is great and the atmosphere is always buzzing. It isn't the cheapest bar in the world but you pay for quality.

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