The location obviously hasn't deterred Nick Gibson, of Islington's Drapers Arms, who's teamed up with head chef David Philpot (ex Dean Street Townhouse) to re-open the pub.
The menu features seasonal British food, at reasonable prices (starters from £4.75 - £8.50, mains from £11.50 - £15.00). The wine list is similarly fairly priced, with the majority of bottles under £30 and a good selection by the glass.
It's fair to say that we had a good, but not great, meal. Two things really stood out as needing work. First the chips. Now I love chips - fat ones, thin ones, triple cooked ones - and usually order a side of them if they're on the menu. It's almost unheard of for me to leave any but that's exactly what happened last night. They were soggy and a bit anaemic looking. They were also grey and green in parts, where no care had been taken to remove the bad bits of potato. Not good. Second, the staff, who appeared to be mainly children. Nothing wrong with this in theory but, although they were perfectly pleasant, they just didn't seem to know what they were doing: they couldn't answer questions on the menu and spent most of their time chatting to each other, whilst studiously avoiding eye contact with customers.
Anyway enough of the negatives and onto the good stuff. The bread was delicious (rosemary and raisin) and duck rilletes starter very tasty. Not so sure about the scallops but we'll move on. The Cornish mackerel was excellent - well cooked and fresh tasting. I always find whole fish a bit of a faff but in this case it was worth it. The grilled onglet steak was well cooked and Marc enjoyed the whole garlic. We ordered two sides: chips and heritage mixed tomato salad. The tomato salad was a delight. Beautiful colours and intense flavours.
For pud we shared the pecan and Jack Daniels tart with vanilla mascarpone. Thoroughly enjoyable. The tart was lovely and crispy and the Jack Daniels cut through the sweetness of the pecans.
Being greedy, we then shared a cheese plate. This was very good - a generous portion of stichelton, Montgomery cheddar and a third which we didn't catch the name of! The homemade chutney was very tasty.
All in all, I'd be very happy if I had a pub like the Devonshire Arms at the (right or wrong) end of my road. I'm sure Nick Gibson will whip the staff into shape soon enough and, if he promises to sort the chips out, we'd go back.
|Scallops, shaved fennel & piccalilli|
|Duck rillettes with pickled plum tomatoes|
|Cornish mackerel, broad bean relish, pea shoots & lemon salad|
|Grilled onglet, chips, peppercorn sauce & confit garlic|
|Heritage mixed tomato salad|
|Pecan & Jack Daniels tart, vanilla mascarpone|