Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Duchess of Kent review Liverpool Road Islington - great ambience, excellent service, not the food though


Address: 441 Liverpool Road
London N1 8PR
Tel: 020 7609 7104
Nearest Tube station: Highbury & Islington

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: Below £20pp
Service charge: N/A
Taste: **
Service: ****
Ambience: ****
It was supposedly the last of the Indian summer over the weekend, not that we knew then. The past few days reminded me of the hot and humid afternoons of my childhood. Incapacitated by the sweltering heat, I would just sit glumly in a corner plastered with sweat that simply refused to evaporate.

Lately, it became a bit awkward when conversations drifted onto the weather. "Lovely weather, isn't it?" someone would beam at me. Er, no. I'm literally withering under the relentless heat. I couldn't even bring myself to lie. "No, the heat's killing me." I replied, effectively ending the chat.

Despite all that complaining, we took the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood quite a bit. We were on our way to Freightliners City Farm along Liverpool Road when we hit upon Duchess of Kent at Ellington Street. Having fully digested the two doughnuts from Raabs bakery, which I had gobbled down earlier, Duchess of Kent seemed like a great pit stop.

"Yes, we do," the waitress behind the counter casted a quick sideway glance to a regular nursing his pint when I asked whether they serve any food. It wasn't only me who wondered; a lady who stepped in a couple of minutes later asked the same as well. Duchess of Kent boasts a tasteful interior dining area that rivals gastropubs like The House and The Albion. I couldn't wait for my food to arrive.


When my rib of beef (£14.50) finally did around twenty minutes later, I almost felt sorry for myself and wonder whether I should had lunch at the Farm's cafe instead. The dish looked depressing to say the least. It tasted likewise too. The herb roast potatoes, savoy cabbage, cauliflower and vanilla carrots sounded good on the menu but turned out rather bland. There were a couple of chunks of beef that looked like it spent too long on the kitchen table with a spoonful of watery sauce dribbled over them. The Rosemary Yorkshire pudding would definitely fare better if only there was some gravy. The lady sitting behind me ordered the same dish and actually requested to have more gravy.


Wife on the hand was quite find with her crisp calamari salad (£6.50). Tossed with tomato, cucumber and onion in sweet Thai chilli, it was a refreshing summer dish. I thought they could afford to be more generous with the calamari for they were rather wiry.


Service, however, was pleasant throughout. The staff was really apologetic when our drinks arrived after our food. Apparently, they ran out of milk and had to get some from the local grocer. Nevertheless, they promptly offered to refund the drinks. When I was placing my orders at the bar earlier, an elderly lady was asking about a dish that she had "some time ago" and proceeded to describe it in great detail. The staff gladly obliged and even went through each item of the menu with her. A lesser restaurant would probably just gently nudge her away.

Duchess of Kent is probably a nice place to grab a pint but looking at what arrived on our table that afternoon, it could do better food wise.

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