Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Duke of Cambridge Organic Pub Islington - eating with a conscience


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Address: 30 St Peters Street,
London N1 8JT
Tel: 020 7359 3066
Nearest Tube station: Angel

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £30 pp
Service charge: N/A
Taste: ****
Service: ****
Ambience: ***
I distinctly recall Wife told me about a review she had come across on Duke of Cambridge. Amongst the whole of details she piled on me, only one but was stuck on my mind - the couple paid over £45 for a smallish lunch.

She did mention something along the line of sustainability, organic and quality. But price tag of the lunch for two in what seemed like a local pub acted as an inhibitor to any rational decision making, which was why we had never stepped into Duke of Cambridge even though it was literally at our doorstep for the last couple of years.

Well, I did try to reserve a table for a special occasion before LO come along. It happened that there was a nasty review about the service staff at Duke of Cambridge, which was rather off-putting. We ended up in Ramsay's Berkeley instead.

Long story short, it was pouring one weekend afternoon and we happened to be in the area. Quite how exactly, I'm not entirely sure. That's the thing about London's crisscrossing streets, a wrong turn and you'll be in an entirely different neighbourhood.

Reidol Cafe, one of my favourite "quick cuppa" places, had shut for the day. I could never quite figure out its opening hours. We ended up at Duke of Cambridge, which lies diagonally opposite Reidol Cafe across the junction of St Peter's Street and Danbury Street.

Other than another family with a toddler, there was no other customers, which was pretty much expected on a rainy Saturday afternoon. The menu of the day was hastily scribbled on two large boards on either sides on the bar counter - a sign of daily changing menu.

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As expected, prices tend towards the high end - starters and desserts started closer to £10 while most mains are above £20. I went for roast pork belly (£17.50). It took quite some time to arrive, which was fine as LO had this curious staring contest with another toddler who had just come through the door with her parents.

The pork belly didn't come with crackling. The skin was somewhat soft but not overly chewy to the extent that it get stuck in between the teeth, which is what usually happens in my pathetic attempts in roasting pork bellies. The knife cut through the pork nicely, not overly tough. I couldn't ask for more really. The slab was stacked on top of kale among a handful of baby potatoes. Always a good accompaniment, the cabbage soaked up the meat's juices readily with the potatoes bulking up the dish.

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The pork belly was a meal on its own but I couldn't resist the hazelnut brownie (£7). The mild nutty taste of the hazelnut came though richly. With a dullop of cream and a pair of raspberries it was irrisistable.

LO was becoming fidgety towards the end of the meal. Without prompting, a smiling staff got her some wooden picture cubes, which placated her while I gobbled down the renmants of the brownie. I'm not sure what happened in the earlier review but in that respect, the service at Duke of Cambridge wasn't all that bad.

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Dining at Duke of Cambridge is all about going organic. In fact, it's even in the name - Duke of Cambridge Organic Pub, it calls itself. As if to drive the point through, there are brochures (aptly named The Good Fish Guide) offering tips on sutainable seafood. It doesn't stop there. The big one comes on your way to the loo - an entire wall just outside the toilets is dedicated to the details of where their meat, fish and even drinks are sourced from.

With globalisation, the distance that food has to travel before landing onto your plate has increased a fair bit (read The True Cost of Putting Food on Your Plate), Duke of Cambridge, at its tiny corner in the residential bit of Angel, is rather refreshing to say the least. But be prepared to shell out for a full meal. Eating healthily and ethically just isn't cheap. For the goodness of organic dining without breaking the bank, check out Recipes from the Duke of Cambridge Organic Pub by its owner, Geetie Singh.


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