Islington pubs: a mini crawl
There’s been a social habit amongst some of my friends for meeting up for drinks on a Wednesday: creatively, they call it Wednesday Drinking. This tradition has lost its way recently, as people settle into their lives of partners and proper jobs and actual cats, but it was re-ignited for 2010 by one of the ringmasters of this ancient and noble tradition.
Who then got ill and cancelled it.
So myself and a couple of likely ladies met up to keep the Wednesday drinking dream alive in their absence.
We went for a jaunt around some of the drinking holes of Islington. First up was the New Rose, a place with decent ales, a bar / lounge separation so distinct that it feels like two different pubs, and a landlord with a great ‘tashe. They also have half-pint ale pots, which is above and beyond the call of duty.
They also have a big sign outside that is hearty and encouraging without ever resorting to the dreaded WACKINESS:
No sign of the pub dog yet, though. Maybe it’s invisible.
Next up was The Crown, a slushy walk up beyond Upper Street and a couple of lovely Islington squares. The Crown seems to be one of those pubs where eating is as important as the drinking, but I’ll forgive them this as the interior is rather lovely:
Also, extra respect for the massive old-fashioned clock, which is exists to tell you how much more time you have to drink before you go back to your miserable lives of not drinking. In this case, 105 minutes. The pub had an older clientele than the previous one, as befitting its backstreets location. There was one guy who looked like he owned the world – given that this was Islington, he probably did. Or at least half of Berkshire.
After a swift pint of 6X, we headed on, this time to a pub that shut down for a while. It was an old spit and sawdust venue, clearly much loved by locals, which has reopened as a place with clean pine tables and a thai menu. The clientele that once populated it have disappeared, and the night we went there was only a table stuffed with a post-work posse and one token local standing proud at the bar. There were no ales available, but we chose the room with the fireplace and went and sat in there.
This was fine for a bit, but there was an awkward moment after we’d settled and i went back to put a squid into the juke box. The barman clocked me about to spend my pound, and brazenly TURNED DOWN the sound before I had my chance to pick my songs. Like he somehow knew who I was and that I was going to play the worse songs in history, to drive out the other eight or so punters.
So I saved my quid and returned to my seat by the fire, suitable chastised.
Next up was the Salmon & Compass, which is more a restaurant that a beer emporium these days. The prices were a bit scary, even by Islington standards – £6.50 for a half pint of ale and a vodka & cranberry – but time had moved on and there was no going back. So we found a corner and chatted about whether the guy across the room who looked like MJ Hibbett was MJ Hibbett.
It was MJ Hibbett.