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Archive for January 19th, 2007

Draper’s Arms Gastropub, Islington

It’s been a pretty uneventful week, which is why my posts have focused on neighborhood restaurants.Today was notable only for the high winds blowing in London. My coworkers (and later on, Jon and my friend Jane) were reciting to me the mounting death toll “because of the wind,” and both Jon and Jane had their trains to other UK cities canceled this evening because of the high winds.  We’re not talking about a tornado, but apparently the wind today was strong enough to wiggle skyscrapers and shut down the inbound Docklands Light Railway (DLR), my commuter rail of choice.

So for dinner tonight, we stayed close by in the neighborhood, dropping by yet another cozy, tasty little gastropub: the Drapers Arms (that’s “the Drapers” to those of you in the ‘hood).  In case you’ve missed earlier posts (how could you?!?), gastropubs are traditional pubs that have installed kitchens and therefore serve “real” meals.

In London, gastropubs are the closest you come to mid-range dining. They vary widely in sophistication of food, but the Drapers is definitely on the more ambitious end of the eating spectrum.

I love both the pub’s exterior (which has a very “English” look – see above photo) and the simple, warm “colonial” interior. Dining room fireplaces are glowing, the light is amber-hued, and the customers are locals (so yeah, a lot of locals are from other countries, but whatever) — it’s the British answer to the French bistro.

The Drapers serves a tempting fish and chips – lightly battered, moist and flaky fish paired with some crispy-on-the-outside, smushy-on-the-inside chips/fries. At £13.50, it’s pricey for a f&c, but it’s high quality and always comforting. This is the route Jon took this evening, while Jane and I got a little more wild and crazy by ordering a roast pollack and a duck confit, respectively.

I enjoyed my salty duck confit, but Jane’s pollack could have used a little more flavoring or sauce.

Desserts (fruit crumbles, chocolate cake, etc.) are simple and warm, just like the room.

Overall, while the food is above average, the real draw to the Drapers is the atmosphere and decor. A true neighborhood place.  Main courses are mostly under £15, so it’s a popular place to go for a relaxed dinner with friends. Tonight, it was also the perfect escape from the winter wind and rain.

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