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Two gastropubs: The Dovetail and The Crown

The Dovetail- Location: 9 Jerusalem Passage, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V 4JP

Since I pride myself on my sense of good direction, I was particularly embarassed that I managed to get lost multiple times en route to join haggisthesecond, naxos, and C. for an evening of good food in honor of my birthday. I was even using a map at the time. Unlike C.'s, my map at least had Jerusalem Passage marked on it. It's a small lane tucked away in a quiet area which is going increasingly upmarket. It's an increasingly happening area, reported our dinner company, who lived in the neighborhood a number of years ago.

The Dovetail is a Belgian-themed gastropub, offering a phenomenal variety of Belgian beers and a substantial range of high-end pub food to accompany it. haggisthesecond and I stuck to trying their lambic range, while the men sampled widely from the rest of the beer menu; my drinks of choice were banana and passionfruit-flavored beers. The Dovetail's chips are the best I've ever had: crisp and crunch on the outside, creamy soft within, and served with a side of mayonnaise. They come in pints. One of the pub's strengths is a healthy array of vegetarian options, including burgers and sausages, all nicely seasoned. C. ordered game sausages with blue cheese mashed potatoes, while I had a tasty wild boar burger on foccaccia. After a substantial wait, some of us had appetite for dessert. My dish of choice was out of stock and, despite the high-quality chocolateness of the chocolate puddle cake, it wasn't really what I was up for at the time. Or perhaps I was in denial about being full because the food was good.

The pleasant space is compact, so go early to nab a table - or reserve one. I'd particularly like to go back again for the lambic range, and to have more of those amazing chips - even if we were too full to collectively finish two pints' worth of them.

The Crown - Location: 223 Grove Road, Victoria Park, London E3 5SN

At some point in the past, The Crown served brunch. That's why I made a reservation for lunchtime today. They don't any more, but it was still worth the trip to check out what kind of venue the world's second organic pub is, as well as the largely canal-side walk which we took to get there.

A very spacious old building, The Crown's wide windows look out onto the lush greenery of Victoria Park, just across the street. The ground floor is one large, high-ceilinged open space, while the dedicated restaurant-and-kitchen upstairs is divided into smaller rooms, surrounded by tree-top views. We arrived shortly after noon, time enough for a leisurely half-hour sipping apple or pear juice before the kitchen opened. Unlike The Dovetail, where orders are placed at the bar in traditional pub-style, The Crown really does double as a restaurant, complete with table service and bowls of fleur de sel, pepper grinders, and olive oil bottles at each table. We were promptly served fresh, warm olive bread while browsing the frequently-changing chalkboard menu.

C. began with a rich, piquant Indian carrot and tomato soup swirled with yoghurt, while I tried the lighter mackerel terrine, served with toast and in-house made pickles, nicely balanced between sweet and salty. We both went for the pork chop as a main, lured by the blue cheese dauphinoise. Buttery slices of potato with caramelized blue cheese is a pretty wonderful dish, I have to say. The spinach was simply steamed, its natural flavorsomeness an advertisement for fresh food. The lightly herb-seasoned pork chop itself was cooked to tenderness, aided in cooking, if not in eating, by a thick layer of fat. The portions were generous and we were too full for dessert - or for their selection of certified organic and vegan dessert wines.

I suspect that if I go back, I'd order a starter and dessert as a good light meal - and go back in the evening, when my company and I are more likely to sample of their impressively varied range of organic alcohols.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
naxos
Aug. 1st, 2005 06:34 pm (UTC)
hey, glad you liked the Dovetail! A handful of other places you guys might like, the first 2 not too far away, the others a bit further afield, but all are quite good and surprisingly affordable!

Spanish: Meson Don Felipe, 53 The Cut, London SE1 8LF.
Peruvian: Fina Estampa, 150 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU.
Ethiopian: Queen of Sheba, 12 Fortress Road, NW5 2EU.
Turkish/Kurdish: Gem, 265 Upper Street, N1 2UQ.
French: Le Sacre Coeur, 18 Theberton Street, N1 0QX.
owlfish
Aug. 1st, 2005 11:58 pm (UTC)
You took us to the Queen of Sheba - and it was good enough we've been back several times since! (In fact, when my mother was in town and we did Colin's birthday-observed, he chose to go there for it.)

Thank you for all the other recommendations - I look forward to trying them!
naxos
Aug. 2nd, 2005 05:50 am (UTC)
no probs, I remembered that, just included it in the list for completeness (and the benefit of your other readers). Hey, you've been back more than we have!
filmstar
Aug. 25th, 2005 05:47 pm (UTC)
I get lost every single time I go to the Dovetail. Never fails.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )