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PUB REVIEW: THE ALWYNE CASTLE, ISLINGTON

The Alwyne Castle in Islington is looking better than ever, fresh from a lick of paint, – but retains its unique homely charm, the perfect north London pub for those long winter nights, as Mark Kebble discovers when he popped in 

Sometimes when news reaches us of a pub refurbishment, our heart sinks. We like things gritty and a little grotty, especially if it’s a personal favourite. Although never falling into any kind of state of disrepair, The Alwyne Castle in Islington is still a favourite – so would a refurbishment do more harm than good?

Things start well – very well, in fact. Red Stripe is a up there with the best when it comes to lager, so my eyes positively lit up when I entered The Alwyne Castle on a chilly autumn’s night and saw that wonderful red and white logo looking back at me. When I calmed myself down, I took in my surroundings – and there’s plenty to look at. The ceiling mural by graffiti artist Inkfetish is certainly eye-catching, as are the oversized church pews flanking the fireplace. The modern dining room has been given a quirky touch with book-print wallpaper leading out into the light-filled conservatory with private enclosed garden.

It was busy on the night of our visit in the main pub area, but my guest and I took a seat in the quieter dining room to tuck into the menu featuring plenty of modern pub grub. After sharing a starter of pan-fried chorizo with focaccia bread, I took advantage of ‘burger night’ by opting for a West Country concoction with cheddar and fries. My guest was a little more adventurous in picking the risotto, but we both were extremely happy with our choices. The risotto looked particularly hearty, whereas my burger was perfectly cooked, served up in a crisp brioche bun.

Dessert was a veritable feast of what’s what when it comes to British classics. Crumble, tarts, sticky toffee pudding, brownie and a great looking cheese board formed this rather enticing line-up, with the raspberry & peach crumble and sticky toffee pudding being picked out. Fabulous stuff all round.

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The dining room at The Alwyne Castle features eye-catching book-print wallpaper

There’s plenty more to investigate when it comes to The Alwyne Castle’s food offerings. Their Sunday roasts have been hyped up – I am keen to return to give the Norfolk pork with crackling a go – and they will be running a very special Christmas menu too over the festive season that could be the ideal solution to any cooking nightmares. All in all, The Alwyne Castle is heart-warming stuff.

83 St Paul’s Road N1 2LY; 020 7359 7351; thealwynecastleislington.co.uk

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