An authentic London pub is a hard thing to find, one which also serves a range of American-themed comfort food is even harder.
Now I realise the two hardly seem comparable and I can hear you screaming this already and you are completely right, but paired together they make a strange yet ultimately charming duo.
You’ll find the pub a stone’s throw away from Essex Road among the classic Victorian town houses of Islington which to me are the antithesis of the area’s appeal and feature heavily in pretty much every Richard Curtis film ever made. On the other side of the road, there’s a long stretch of grim, concrete housing blocks creating a strange paradoxical clash where of North meets East London.
Among this divide of cultures, you can find the The North Pole pub which exudes a welcoming, homely feel making a pleasant change from the numerous gastro pubs across North London which more often than not are utterly soulless.
This pub is different as can be seen from the rustic, but not in a trying-to-hard manor and the friendly staff who will gladly talk you through the extensive drinks list.
Anyway, as I’ve mentioned it twice already I’d better explain. The pub specialises in real ale and craft beers and not only has a strong selection of local brands but also bottled and on- tap varieties from around the world.
Now although a lot of pubs advertise this fact, this one really means it. So that’s 10 real ales and two ciders on tap, and these are constantly changing as they only include independent suppliers.
The London Fields Brewery is a regular along with Brew Dog in Camden and Meantime in Greenwich. There are also 12 different beer kegs and more than 20 different bottled versions.
With such a selection in front of you the main question will be what to go for first and secondly how you’re going to get home after drinking so much. While I’m not a massive beer or ale enthusiast, I tried several on offer and was pleasantly surprised by how each matched my requirements of a ‘light tasting beer without the headiness you’ll get in a dark ale’.
My friend Hugh on the other hand is a self-confessed drinks snob and he managed to quaff down several beers, both bottled and on-tap, and gave each an enthusiastic applause, the more so the further we ventured on in this drinks flight.
Now by this stage Hugh and I, after several half pints of the sweet stuff, were ready to embark on some stodgy food to soak it all up. To meet our requirements, there’s a snack menu, (one for £4, two for £7.50, three for £10,50) and these are the perfect afternoon filler between lunch and dinner – or if you’re just feeling greedy and want something extra
alongside your main meal.
In the snacks there are all the pub favourites such as a very runny scotch egg, pork scratchings with spiced apple sauce, a pint of prawns and finger licken’ chicken strips with ranch dressing. As a warning to those like me with eyes bigger than your stomachs (do people still use expressions like this?) the servings are big so if you’re planning on going past
this part stick to one or two each.
The mains are pretty standard pub food fodder apart from a few American-inspired dishes thrown in such as the mac and cheese and jerk chicken with rice, peas and coleslaw.
For the sweet-toothed fiends, the pudding menu changes all the time but when I was there featured delights such as waffles with maple syrup (carrying on the American theme), cheesecakes and fruit crumbles.
It’s nice to find a pub which hasn’t been too affected by the gastro-pub force and still retains a bit of tradition while serving well-cooked pub grub with a bit of a twist and independently-sourced ales and craft beers.