After a meal at The Albion a couple a weeks ago with a couple of friends, we were walking down Cloudesley Road towards Sainsbury when we passed by The Crown. "Now, that's a decent pub," one of them quipped.
One thing about Islington is that it is never short of pubs. The local variety, the chain pubs, those catered to families and those that'll see more action only when a match is playing, Islington has them all. On the outside, The Crown looks like one of those local pubs. Solemnly standing at the intersection between Cloudesley Road and Cloudesley Square, The Crown hardly looks like it's doing a thriving business.
However, once you step through the double wooden paneled door, it is like a whole different in there. Like many English pubs, The Crown retained its mostly wooden furnishings but it is much more than that. A fully wooden central bar dominates the main sitting area with two ornate wooden dividers separating the entire floor into two sections - an open area and a more intimate and cosy area within. As if that's not enough, there's this sinfully comfortable sofa area set right in front of the open kitchen. I could almost imagine a group of pals settling down playing a hand of poker with a pint in hand. And that was before I caught sight of the stack of boardgames sitting inconspicuously on the bar counter.
The menu itself is normal pub fare, nothing like the testicles served at The Peasant. Wife went for the haddock and chips while I opted for chargrilled beef cheese burger. Nothing exciting I know, but we were famished and pointed to the first ones that caught our eyes.
My chargrilled beef burger (£10) didn't take too long to arrive. I thought I caught a whiff of something that came across as somewhat offending. It smelt like beef gone bad. I cut a piece of the beef patty and offered it to Wife. "It might be the barbecue sauce they used," Wife reassured me. Well, the fact that I am still well enough to type this shows that the beef's fine but the sauce is certainly not. That probably explains why the waitress offered us a healthy portion of mustard as well when I requested for ketchup.
I thought that the chips were overdone and almost brittle. The tired looking salad didn't help a bit to be honest. The burger was a far cry from the one at The Albion.
The Crown's haddock and chips (£11) was no joy either. The chips, well, were as above. Salad looked a tad fresher but not much. The fish was rather bland. To make it worse, the skin underneath was cold and still had a damp fishy taste. I guess the most palatable part of the dish was the green peas.
The Crown has a fantastic ambience, there is not an iota of doubt to that. If only the food served can match up to that and its service less sullen. Wife and I left the pub feeling that our calories could have been better spent elsewhere.