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The Ranelagh, Bounds Green

July 27, 2015

I have a staunch love of North London. Newington Green was the first place I ever lived, and while it very much felt like the ‘hood back then, it’s now an enclave of artisan bakeries, overpriced pizza and the “gastropub”. Now a proud dweller of the much-maligned Finsbury Park (SO MANY TRANSPORT LINKS, HOMESLICE), I still can’t say I’ve ever ventured further north than Crouch End (another hive of organic shops and yoga pants). Today was the day I would ride to Bounds Green! Fried chicken and waffles were waiting.

The pub itself is fantastic – lovely atmosphere with long wooden tables and friendly bar staff. There was even a bouncy castle outside in the garden (!!!) and a whole posse of people celebrating a 21st birthday with a guest list that ranged from aged 2 to 90. The first thing I ordered was a Bloody Mary – perfectly spiced and refreshingly cold. No celery or salted rim but let’s not split hairs as it was freaking delicious.

Top marks all around for the burger with sweet potato chips.

I patiently waited for my fried chicken platter while those-who-shall-not-be-named around me ate their fried chicken with waffles and maple syrup. I don’t know who came up with serving up fried chicken with waffles but it’s in my top 10 food pairings. Not everyone’s cup of tea but the combination of sweet and savoury is divine if you’re into that type of thing. I had two beefs with this dish though – the fried chicken was well-battered yet tasted of vinegar. The chicken wasn’t deboned before placing on the waffle. And there were limp parsley leaves garnishing it – so unnecessary. BEGONE LIMP LETTUCE LEAVES. You’re not wanted here.

The actual fried chicken platter was no different. The fried chicken was delicately battered and nicely seasoned – but there was a very distracting vinegary taste to it. It’s not that it was a bad thing, it just overpowered the entire dish. This didn’t bother everyone though, so if this sounds vile to you make sure you ask the kitchen to lay off the vinegar. The chips? Perfectly crunchy and moreish, as a good chip should be.

The Eggs Florentine arrived atop a couple of hamburger buns. Ex-squeeze me? Are English muffins not sold in Bounds Green? This is the 2nd time I’ve seen this and I don’t understand. Just put a muffin on it y’all.

The best meal by far was the Chicken and Ham Hock pie. So British. I had a couple of bites and the flavours were rich and satisfying and the crust was nice and flaky. I regret nothing, but next time I come here I’ll probably order this dish. There is also poutine on the menu. It is not real poutine.

We had a delightful afternoon sitting in the garden after lunch so I would wholeheartedly recommend this pub for anyone Bounds Green-bound. The food in general was great with a few duds here and there. But if you’re searching for amazing fried chicken, your best bet is to go to a place with the word “diner” or “mama” in it – I’ve actually had incredible fried chicken with waffles at Stax Diner in Carnaby Street, London. Or just git yer ass down to Little Rock, Arkansas. I imagine Bill Clinton’s hometown would serve up a mean chicken and waffles.

What to order: Chicken and ham hock pie, fried chicken and waffles (hold the vinegar), Burger with sweet potato chips and the Bloody Mary

The Ranelagh
82 Bounds Green Rd
London N11 2EU

The Union Tavern, Westbourne Park

July 22, 2015

This post was inspired by the fact that my ideal Sunday involves not leaving the house. Sunny day? I have windows. Hungry? There’s a well-stocked corner shop downstairs that stocks everything my heart desires – Doritos, hummus, Diet Coke. There are even meatballs in a can for those who have truly given up on life. But when a dear friend had his birthday at a pub in West London on a rainy Sunday, I put on my game face and not only left the house, but left North London. Dear God.

A quick check of the pub menu and I was pleasantly surprised to see ribs, chicken wings and pulled pork buns. We had a disastrous meal at a BBQ pop-up in a North London pub recently so I was reserving judgment. But I still diligently wore my most stretchy pants, because if I’ve learned one thing – sub-par food doesn’t stop me from eating until I feel sick. Bleh?

The first thing I laid eyes on were the chilli cheese fries. Not a common thing to find in the UK, these were slightly spicy, comforting and had the added bonus of both melted cheese and perfectly cooked french fries. Plus, the presentation can’t be faulted. It’s not easy to make beef mince, fries and cheese look like this – it’s usually a big ‘ol mess. Look how pretty!

HOT WINGS! Are these Canadian sports bar worthy? Would there be blue cheese dip? Yes and no. Nice and zingy but not so hot that it blows your head off, these were exactly what I wanted on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Definitely could have eaten more but there a lot of people I didn’t know around me and I desperately needed a bib.

A friend’s pulled pork bun looked impressive. I was assured it was delicious. I stared at it but didn’t sample. Low-carbing innit. LOL

I had only planned to nibble on a few wings this afternoon but I simply had to sample the mac & cheese. Surrounded by Australians and New Zealanders, by default I was the mac & cheese authority at the table. Hah! This was a solid 7/10. Creamy, al dente pasta with the right amount of cheesy flavour.

Since we were celebrating a birthday, it would be rude to not have dessert. This brownie sundae arrived looking smug and impressive. The perfect end to a blow-out meal, it’s obviously a super rich dessert but didn’t taste sickly if that makes sense! Would highly recommend this pub for a lazy weekend day – felt like I was back in Canada! It’s right across the street from Westbourne Park tube station and has both hot wings and mac & cheese!

What to order: Hot wings, chili cheese fries, brownie sundae

The Union Tavern 
45 Woodfield Road
W9 2BA