"Islington gastro-pub with plenty of character"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
This pub on Pentonville Road is full of character, with chandeliers, low hung lampshades and old-school fans hanging from the ceiling. Wooden flooring and a wooden bar add charm, giving the place a homely feel. There is even a covered roof terrace for warmer days and smokers.
It’s the first properly hot evening of the year, and thank god those fans are spinning because after walking here from Hoxton we are in need of aggressive air-con and a chilled bottle of Rose.
After cooling down a little we order the grilled asparagus and poached egg with a creamy, slightly runny yolk and chive hollandaise (£6.50), which is highly appetising. The filo pastry basket, containing Woodland pigeon and shallot and red wine confit (£6.50) is good, with crispy pastry and a discreet amount of sauce so that the meat is not swimming in it.
Where pigeon was once eaten as a result of food shortages after the war, it is now de rigeur at many a gastropub. Ironic how an animal considered a pest by so many is now a fancy food (you won’t find pigeon meat at Wetherspoons, that’s for sure).
Pigeon is one of those meats that needs to be cooked for precisely the right amount of time, as overcooking will make it chewy and unappetising. The Castle’s pigeon seems to have been overdone by a few minutes as it’s a little tough, but not inedible.
The pan-fried whole plaice with prawns, capers and lemon butter (£11.50) is very tasty indeed. The prawns and fish have absorbed the tangy flavour of the capers; new potatoes complete the dish.
A broccoli and Yorkshire blue tart with a broad bean salad (£9) is filling yet has just enough blue cheese to be moreish. Skinny chips with gentleman’s relish (£2.75) are devoured, the relish reminding me of a cod-based allioli I once tried in La Mancha.
For dessert, we continue the savoury mood and opt for the British cheese selection (£6), which includes the standard Cheddar, Brie and Stilton, and we manage to finish just as last orders are being called. With the sound of the bell we set out into the balmy night, feeling well fed and content.
Leila reviewed The Castle on Sun 30 May 2010