I had serious high hopes for this meal. They had asked us to order our lunch in advance as there was a group of 8-10 – this takes the joy out of perving on the menu but I get it. I chose the organic roast chicken and gleefully used the drumstick emoticon without abandon the rest of the week. We showed up and were told that the roast menu was only available on Sunday. Which is fine. But why take our order? And WHO took our order? Is this like some kind of Hogwarts parallel universe and Draco Malfoy is enjoying my organic roast chicken lunch in a dank corridor somewhere, gleefully laughing like a maniac? All I know is there was no chicken served up in here.
Staring at the chalkboard menu, I really struggled to find something that sounded appealing. The pub itself is tucked away down a side street behind Angel station in Islington and has recently teamed up with the famed Riverford farm. It is perfectly delightful – all wooden tables and lots of natural light. And they are fully committed to being 100% organic – even down to the vodka in the Bloody Mary. But still, the menu. Winter Vegetable and Fennel Crumble as a main. Really? I settled on Pan-Fried cod steak with pearl barley and kale risotto. The other options were Venison Chop with Swede Gratin and Cavalo Nero or Spicy Lamb Chickpea Stew to share for £28.
The cod itself was incredibly bland and cut in a strange way – there were a million bones. And no flavour whatsoever. The pearl barley was delicious – but the kale risotto turned out to be just steamed kale leaves? Confused.
The creamy leek side dish was heavenly. I ended up just dumping it on the fish hoping for flavour osmosis.
Now this drink really perked me up. On weekends they have Veg Cocktails – this is the Gold’N Purple: beetroot, amaretto, orange and lemon zest. So sweet and delicious. Perfect for lightweight drinkers! I hate saccharine sweet drinks like that dreadful Haribo cider (Kopperberg and the like) and overly sweet cocktails that aren’t Pina Colada. This lured me into the false illusion that I was drinking a cold-pressed juice.
Dessert made up for the cod – hazelnut chocolate brownie with creme fraiche and apple crumble with cream. I felt confused after the meal. Aspects of it were highly enjoyable but the mains were super pricey and bland. Would go back for the beetroot cocktail and a side of creamy leeks if I was in the hood. I’m sure they would be thrilled to see me.
Riverford at The Duke of Cambridge
30 St Peters Street
Islington, London N1 8JT