Pub grub takes on a whole new meaning in east London these days. Out: sloppy plates of haddock and chips, pork crackling and salted peanuts. In: lobster bisque and scallops, natty wine and Perelló olives. It’s gentrification in action, but that aside, the concept of trendy-pub-plus-trendy-chef has proven itself to be a winner.
The Prince Arthur, tucked into a corner of Victorian terraces near London Fields, was re-launched in 2020 by Emma Piggott and Jonathan Mercer, who also own The Plough in Homerton. Since then, it’s earned a reputation for attracting voguish kitchen talent, boasting a hyped Hot 4 U pop-up residency (which led to Papi, which you can find around the corner) and a stint from chef Vivienne Duffy. This summer, it welcomed Joe Couldridge, whose culinary career spans the likes of Hawksmoor, Leroy, and more recently, The Clarence Tavern in Stokey.
Besides being a great pub, the food at the Prince Arthur is knife-and-fork-down brilliant.
There’s a proper neighbourhood feel about The Prince Arthur, making it just as likely to be bustling with Salomon-wearing creative couples popping in for some mid-dog walk hydration as it is with tables of foodies tucking into a celebratory dinner. It’s a charming, laid-back place, with high-quality fittings, well-worn wooden tables and classic pub signage. Walk past in August and you’ll see punters licking Guinness froth from their moustaches, spilling out from the pavement into the gutter; in winter, the windows are steamy as a hubbub of chatter warms up the inside, calling you forth into the snug for a glass of the good stuff.
But today, beer is not what we were here for. Because, besides being a great pub, the food at The Prince Arthur is knife-and-fork-down brilliant. The menu, consisting of small and large(ish) plates, naked oysters with moreish mignonette as well as snackier bits like mushroom toast, is polished enough to make it feel special – but never have you reaching for your phone to Google ingredients.
First up was two dainty fingers of hash brown, topped with a creamy, gorgeous devilled crab. It wasn’t pretending to be anything else but potato, meat and mayo – but the salty crispness and the melt-in-your-mouth topping were, seemingly, meant to be. My mouth was salivating for more after the first bite.
With only three small plates to choose from, we went for the fermented Scotch bonnet with a densely sweet cornbread heaped with peppers in every other colour of the rainbow, as well as a grilled peach salad with rocket, ricotta and hazelnuts. Both were light, interesting, and flavourful. The ravioli with brown butter and crispy sage had a little too much bite in the pasta, but it made up for it with the soft squash and ricotta filling, which tasted almost dessert-like.
Everything was delicious but the star of the show was undoubtedly the lobster bisque: three plump Orkney-dived scallops and saffron-cooked potatoes, topped with samphire and swimming in a heavenly bowl of buttery, fishy, unami-loaded bisque (AKA, Jesus’s blood).
I thought I’d admit defeat by dessert, but ‘one spoonful’ turned into two, and soon I’d wolfed down the entirety of the smooth, rich chocolate cremeux, whose brandied cherries and almonds sprinkling gave it a distinctly retro feel, in keeping with those earlier hash browns. Would I have done the same in a fancy restaurant? Maybe, but there’s definitely something to be said for the relaxed warmth boozer to make you revel in a good meal even more.
The vibe A few pints down the local – if your local has really damn delicious food.
The food Stunning, non-stuffy cooking with a focus on seafood and nods to nostalgic grub.
The drink A thoughtful wine list which varies from indulgent whites and Pet Nats to glasses of red for less than a fiver. There's also cool, citrusy cocktails, lovely local lagers and well-poured Guinness.
Time Out tip If you want to be thrifty, plan a trip around their drinks offers: 2-4-1 glasses of orange wine on Wednesdays, or two for £15 cocktails on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.