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The Barnsbury (Islington, London)

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1 Review

209 - 211 Liverpool Road / Islington / London / N1 1LX / Tel: 020 7607 5519.

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      14.11.2006 10:27
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      They have got it soooo right.....

      Ok, another Thursday night in the life of Tazzywazzy, this weekend boyfie and I are supposed to go to Islington to try out this new Gastro-pub called The Barnsbury. There are so many of these so called gastro-pubs these days that I find it really difficult to get excited about them, but hey, I don't have to cook, I don't have to wash up, so I guess I had better stop my bloody whining!

      ~Location & Getting There~

      So if you were paying attention, you know that said gastro-pub is in Islington. Getting there is really simple, even if you have no sense of direction what-so-ever so there is no excuse not to go. I will also give you two very simple options (there are of course others, which will be listed in due course).

      Option 1

      Take tube to Angel, get off tube at Angel go up escalators, come out of tube station, cross road (try to cross when the little green man is flashing - that is the one on the lights not that weird dude in the long coat in the corner) and walk up Liverpool Road (as if you are going to the Angelic), keep walking up the road, keeping to the left hand-side of the road and eventually you will see a sign for The Barnsbury.

      *Tricky bit*

      Make sure you go into The Barnsbury, and not the Vietnamese next door, I am sure it is a very nice restaurant, but it is not the one I am reviewing! Boyfie and I did make that mistake and were very confused, anyway exit said Vietnamese, enter pub next door, spot friends - all is good!

      Option 2

      Go to Islington tube station, turn right down Highbury station road, then left down Liverpool road, keeping to the right hand side of the road, eventually you will spot The Barnsbury - this option is a little less treacherous and you will probably not end up in the Vietnamese!

      Other options - take a cab (you lazy buggers), take a busticle, walk (obviously not if you live miles away!).

      *postcode is N1 1LX for your own research!

      ~First Impressions~

      Ohhhh.....id seem a niceeee! Wooden tables everywhere, nice long benches, a lovely curved wooden bar in the middle of the room, nice soft, clean, crisp colours, very up-market cun'tree pub here. I like, I like very much.

      We join our friends at the table and I can have a good look around, not too busy for a Thursday night, maybe not enough people have heard of it yet, something that did come to my attention was that the majority of the clientele were couples of men having a nice quiet dinner (including a couple that we were with), oh and there was a group of three "older ladies" enjoying their dinner with a rather cute dog named Basket.

      Whilst we sat down and chatted we were deliberating over what to drink, the others had already started and I felt a bit naked without a drink in my hand, anyway, in between catching up and taking quick glances over at the bar to see what was on offer, we sort of made a choice, about fifteen mins later someone came over and took our drinks orders - table service, veh-ry aniceee! (God why am I doing that I haven't even seen the sodding movie...will endeavour to stop!)

      I ordered a large glass of the Merlot which was very nice, very drinkable and crisp, anyway, enough of this babble, onto the important bit....

      ~The Fodderino-rello~

      We spent about half and hour, half chatting and half checking the menu, eventually boyfie's friend decided that we were all very hungry and needed to order, so decided to force everyone to decide - good plan, I was starving.

      To Start....The er...Starters

      I opted for the chicken liver & foie gras parfait, mango chutney & toasted brioche (£6.50), which was absolutely divine, the foie gras was not too strong or over-powering, but had a lovely little kick to it, which hit just after the light creamy texture has had a chance to settle on your tongue, the mango chutney was not too sweet, it was fresh and was a perfect accompaniment. My only complaint was that even though I piled my brioche high with the parfait, I ran out of brioche, but have no fear, I polished it all off with the rocket (with a bit of balsamic glaze - for prettiness) that came with it.

      Boyfie and two of his friends went for the Brioche with goats cheese and leeks (£4.50), this looked absolutely stunning, the brioche was in the shape of a little pot or muffin, the lid was sliced off and stuffed with said leeks and goats cheese, there was a bit of rocket and some balsamic glaze drizzled over the rocket, I am assuming that it was tasty, as I obviously very generously offered boyfie some of my parfait, but no return gesture came - despite numerous "oh how is it?" or "oh that looks really tasty" or even "that smells lovely".....Men! So slow on the old uptake!

      Toby's Boyfie ordered the roast sea scallops with butterbeans & aioli (£6.75), in total he got six decent sized pieces, again the presentation was wonderful, they were all arranged very neatly round some greens in the middle of the plate, I am assuming that it was tasty, as he didn't say a word!

      Mains next, we had a very simple order, two crisp confit of duck, braised red cabbage & spring onion mash (£12.50), one for me and one for Bridge & three chargrilled rib eye steaks with herb butter, chips & a mixed salad (£14.50).

      The duck was done to perfection, the skin was crispy and the meat was perfect, not fatty & not dry, I am really fussy about duck, as it is so easy to get wrong, but this place have got it the opposite to wrong....er....right! The meat just fell off the bone, in an almost crispy peking duck fashion, the red cabbage was lovely, although there was rather a lot of it, the duck was sitting on a little round circle of red cabbage, it was not too tangy but still had a little kick to it, I think it was cumin. I was a bit disappointed with the mash portion, as it looked small - how wrong I was! The mash was really rich and thick, but still smooth, there was a hint of spring onion in it, which complimented all the other bits perfectly - oh and there was another drizzling of balsamic - not complaining, but they love to garnish with the glazed balsamic!

      The three men had steaks, as they are men, however they were defeated, and I don't think anyone managed to finish what they had ordered, the side salads were so big that they had to come in separate bowls, not that anyone paid much attention to their salads, but the leaves were all very crisp and fresh. The steaks were all cooked to perfection, however if you do like your steak medium rare, I would suggest that you order it more rare than medium, as they are chargrilled, so the edges of the meat will be more medium than rare. The herb butter was lovely, I would like to have seen more of it as it was so good I wanted it on the chips...yes boyfie managed to take a hint and share - actually it was more like he thought his steak was burnt and asked me to try some (turns out it wasn't it was just the corner that had been a bit more chargrilled than the rest of the steak), so I just helped myself to whatever else I fancied whilst I was there!

      When our meal was finished, we were not offered a dessert menu, but more drinks, not that we wanted any desserts, it may have been nice to peruse at our leisure! Anyway, the whole bill came to £168 between five of us, which I thought was absolutely blinding, all the service was included and for six gin & tonics, a large glass of red wine, a bottle of white & a pint of beer - was sufficiently full and more than happy with the price!

      As I was so impressed with the food, I thought I would do a bit of digging, it turns out that the food is so good because they decided to put someone in the kitchen that knows what they are doing - ex-conran to be precise

      ~The Service~

      The service was good, but it wasn't as good as the food, I am not complaining, because I had a wonderful night, the food was brilliant, if you compare it to the price that we paid, I would go as far to say that this was the best meal I have had in London for a long time. The staff are what you could call laid back, to their credit, they did often empty our ash tray (to the point of being annoying), but there is nothing worse than eating a really good meal and being able to smell stale cigs. If the service hadn't been included, I probably would have left the regular 10%, only because I feel bad if I don't, but wouldn't have thought about giving them any extra.

      ~Final Thoughts~

      This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, the food was exceptional, the price was more than reasonable for what you get and the atmosphere was lovely and friendly, even though the pub was relatively empty, a lot of people kept coming over to talk to Toby (he is the manager of another brilliant pub called The Charles Lamb - just off City Road), the people there clearly know good food and there is a really relaxed atmosphere, there is no raucous laughter (except from our table) and everyone is very civilised and well behaved, a very welcome change.

      I would highly recommend anyone to go here, if I was really looking to impress I would choose this place over a lot of other places in London, not because of the price (but it is a massive bonus), just because of the quality of the food and the lovely atmosphere that this place has - also, if you are a single male (and that way inclined), looking for a nice fellow to while away the evenings, this is definitely the place to pick one up, it was a crying shame for woman kind I tell you!

      thanks for reading guys...hope to see you all there xxx

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