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  • 4.0 star rating
    12/2/2014
    1 check-in here

    How haven't I reviewed this? It has been the home of my 'first roast back' in the UK both times I've returned from Canada.

    It's more cute, boutique bar style than old man pub, lots of mismatched sofas and chairs to sit at. The menu is pretty decent and they have a selection of roasts at the weekend. Decent pork with a little bit of crackling.

    They forgot our bread so comped that for us when it arrived, which is a nice touch. It's a quiet bar so you can enjoy your dinner and drinks without any obnoxious matches on in the background. I wouldn't come here to get completely sauced but if I wanted a nice date environment then maybe I would.

  • 4.0 star rating
    16/2/2014

    Excellent drinks and their Sunday roast is one of the best in London. Make sure you book ahead otherwise you may not get a table.

  • 3.0 star rating
    28/4/2013
    2 check-ins here

    Note 1: this review is for the cocktail bar, not the restaurant
    Note 2: Yelpers can get a 25% discount when checking in !!!

    Been here a few times, and I must admit, as far as bars go in the Upper St/Highbury Corner area, this is actually one of the better ones.

    The atmosphere is chilled out, there are candlelights and 'Chartreuse VEP' branding  everywhere, and the bar staff is very friendly (almost too friendly, as it sometimes takes a while to get their attention to order a drink, or get the bill...).

    In terms of drinks, the menu is pretty decent, and the naming, quite creative.

    I started off with a bombastic drink, the 'Barrymore's Brew', and obvious play on words for that kid that was in E.T. back in the 80's. This drink means business... Dark rum, oloroso sherry, maple syrup, fresh lemon and vanilla bitters. Lovely drink, pretty potent, served in a silver cup. Good, but in small, sippy doses.

    My wife had the 'Jessica Rabbit', which is a concoction composed of green grapes, 'molested with the joy of elderflow', the 'magic of oloroso', vodka and lime. Served in a high ball, it's an excellent drink; my wife is notoriously difficult with her cocktails (I took her to Mutis in Barcelona, one of the top bars in Europe outside of London, and she was positively non plussed). She loved it.

    Where Public House doesn't quite deliver is on some of the classics... such as the Negroni which I ordered for Round 2, or my mate's Sazarac. The Negroni, although pretty good, was a tad on the sweet side, and slightly watered down. The Sazarac, which is a beautiful, bitter clean cocktail, typically made with rye whiskey, Peychaud bitters, and syrup, stirred, then served into an old fashioned glass that's been rinsed with absinthe, is a beautiful drink. It was nicely executed by the bar staff at Public House, but also, like the classic Negroni, slightly watered down.

    All in all, however, a great ambiance; please note that if you check-in on Yelp, you can get a 25% off badge for all future drinks! That actually deserves an extra star.

  • 5.0 star rating
    4/1/2013
    3 check-ins here ROTD 19/2/2013

    This place has become a firm favourite, in large part due to its seemingly instinctive self-awareness and joie de vivre. It has an ability to perfectly pitch itself and set a mood that feels both relaxing and decadent.

    On arrival you're quickly poured a glass of water which is kept topped up throughout the evening. This is a nice touch, generally considered standard service in American bars and restaurants, but somewhat rarer in the UK.

    The regularly evolving "fancy drinks" menu features innovative cocktails as suggested aperitifs and digestifs, so even if you're not eating in the excellent restaurant, it's an ideal place to start or finish the night, and if you have the opportunity to get a stool at the bar then there's always some repartee on offer from the bartenders.

    While the eccentric collection of furniture and almost pyromaniacal obsession with candles could give the impression that you've stumbled into a gothic French brocante with its own fire hazard classification, it all contributes to the individual charm and quirkiness of the place.

    The staff are personable and attentive, and possess the engaging ability to convey the impression that they know you and are welcoming you into their own front room. This is one of those places which feels like a reunion with an old friend, and where you can be confident of a very satisfying evening.

  • 5.0 star rating
    19/4/2011
    1 check-in here
    Listed in Sunday Roast

    With a Yelp offer for £10 Sunday roast and a Bloody Mary, you'd expect to have to set expectations on the quality of food and drink to be quite low, right? Well, at Public House, you'd be wrong.

    For having been around for about three years now, I don't know how people stumble upon Public House. It's off the main drag of Upper Street, across the way from Canonbury Lane. In fact, the storefront is so subtle that I walked right past the door before realising where it was. Look sharp so you don't miss it!

    Once inside the cool, calm interior... it wasn't long after we were seated before someone came by to immediately offer a Bloody Mary. Well, don't mind if I do! Since we'd booked with the Yelp offer, I guess that's how he knew the sauce we were in store for.

    And as for the food? Beyond reproach. Don't get me wrong, this isn't Hawksmoor's Sunday roast we're talking about, but it sure beats the pants off the one at The Holly Bush or even Garrison. With your option of beef or chicken and all the fixin's, including crunchy broccoli, tender carrots, and savoury Yorkshire pudding, you can't go wrong. Ask for a helping of horseradish sauce for your beef to kick it up a notch, too, just for good measure.

    I don't know how long they plan to run the Sunday roast deal, but it's truly that: an absolute knock-down-the-doors too-good-to-miss offer. Make your reservations early and often, folks. I can't imagine this one sticking around for long!

  • 5.0 star rating
    28/7/2011
    ROTD 23/11/2011

    I have a new favorite bar.

    I have a new favorite bartender.

    I have a new favorite drink.

    I have a glass of water on my desk this morning staring me down.

    I love a good cocktail menu, sometimes it can be such a pain trying to find somewhere to go for drinks that isn't trying too hard or charging too much for a glass of ice with a lot of syrups in it. These are some well-crafted drinks with a punch, and quite possibly the best descriptions you'll ever read on a menu.

    If the drinks haven't won you over, the amazing smelling food will. You'll find yourself crane-ing your neck everytime something gets whisked by you. (we've already pencilled in plans to come back for the roast!)

    It should come as no surprise then that the service is what you long for after a busy day at the office. You'll get drink recommendations, a bit of a chat, and lots of love being put into that cocktail shaker... nothing is worse than a bartender on gap year that can only pull a pint!

    Basically, you should come here often. Unless you're unpleasant, then don't, because I plan on coming here often and I won't want to deal with you.

  • 5.0 star rating
    28/7/2011
    ROTD 18/8/2011

    Once upon a time, there was a girl living in London in search of the perfect bar. She looked far and wide and could never find her soul mate (bar mate, if you will). Until one day, she happened upon the Public House in Islington in search of Whiskey and a friendly environment. When she stumbled upon the Public House, and rant hrough her checklist of requirements:

    Shabby Chic yet comfortable furniture - Check

    Quirky decorations all over the walls (including solid gold bicycle and assortment of masks) - Check

    A wonderfully attentive and skilled bartender - check

    Drinks that are described in naughty terms, such as 'grapes being molested by the juice of a lime' - Check

    Drinks that will knock your socks off while deing delicate and delicious - Check.

    A special keychain that gets the holder 25% off drinks if you'reREAAAL special - check

    The girl was overjoyed that she had met the match she dreamed of. She spent the entire first meeting drinking herself silly with friends and went to work the next morning with a massive headache but happy from the memories.

    You can find her living Happily Ever After, every #WhiskeyWednesday at the Public House :)

    The End.

  • 5.0 star rating
    5/6/2011
    1 check-in here

    Can't miss Sunday roast and with a Yelp offer, no less. Good service, I was able to find a table with a power outlet so that I could surf while I ate and drank my way through a £20.

    Now, when I say "can't miss", this place is actually really easy to miss. Very little signage out front, I walked past it twice before noticing the "54" in the window. It's the place that appears like it was a fashion shop but it's now a proper restaurant and bar. Eclectic tables and chairs look like they've been rescued from thrift shops, but that's a good thing because it gives a certain comfortable "not a chain restaurant" character.

    Sunday roast was on the mark, with a healthy slab of barely dead beef (which I what I requested), spuds and veggies. Sadly, the Yorkshires were only okay. I got the impression they were frozen, but it's likely I'm wrong.

    Regardless, a great meal and a good time. I'm very glad I made the trip!

  • 4.0 star rating
    24/12/2012
    1 check-in here

    Public House featured on an impromptu bar crawl in Angel. It's tucked away down a side street from the main drag and easy to miss if you don't know what you are looking for. And missing it would be a tragedy!

    Despite the name, it's actually an upscale cocktail bar with a small restaurant section in the back. I can't comment on the food as I've only been for drinks, but the drinks are delicious and very addictive. I've run my way down a good portion of the cocktail list and the bartenders have consistently put up a quality product in short order. You can even discuss your tastes with the bartender and they'll make something up for you to suit. That's always going to be a win in my book!

    Given the very limited space, it can be hard to find a spot to chill and I would recommend this for small groups of no more than 4 if you don't have a reservation in advance. If you can grab a spot at the bar, hold on to it as otherwise it may be a while before you can push back in to get another drink in. And that's pretty much all I remember - those cocktails pack a punch!

  • 4.0 star rating
    20/1/2009
    First to Review

    Great bar with an amazing cocktail menu. I thoroughly enjoyed the multiple Margarita No 2s and Manhattans I had pre and during dinner.  As for food, the potted venison and the pork belly were the standouts.

    Very flattering lighting in here.

  • 3.0 star rating
    2/12/2012

    I will admit, looking fot the Public House was a bit of a struggle as there is no sign outside. So my hint here is to trust what your map tells you.

    The menu had a nice selection, and there were a few starters I would have loved to try but the steak tartare won my eye early on and was delicious. My duck main was severely overcooked, which was a shame, but the other mains at my table looked nice.

    Our poor waiter was absolutely fantastic, and one of the few that understand proper serving etiquette, but was rushing around like a mad man behind the scenes due to a lack of help. I was a little surprised the bartender made himself a nice cocktail, had a smoke and did not think of helping his co-worker.

    A nice place to meet friends, or go on a date, but I was not overly impressed with the food so not necessarily a place I would go out of my way to frequent. That being said though, the drinks were well made, the waiter brilliant and the steak tartare delightful.

  • 3.0 star rating
    2/8/2011
    1 check-in here
    Listed in Angel

    My Sunday beef was well done (as in not medium or rare), judging from pictures posted above, sometimes it seems to be a lot pinker than what I had, shame. It wasn't a bad roast, but I can make much better myself. The chicken was a bit small and didn't look appetising but my partner said it was fine for what we paid.

    I think, honestly, I was expecting a 'gastropub', but the food here was more like 'typical boozer' . The service was friendly enough if a bit uncoordinated (cutlery arrived after the food, then my food was taken away so they could bring it out with the rest of the food).

    I probably won't come back to eat I'm afraid, there are better roasts to be had. But a drink? Maybe. I can't really pass up that 25% off check-in offer now can I?

    • Qype User Hampst…
    • London
    • 16 friends
    • 193 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    6/1/2013

    Just found this place on a Sunday afternoon. Whilst we did not eat here, we did have drinks.
    First off, I loved the decor. Great bar off the beaten path and away from all the regular Islington foot traffic.
    The staff when we were there were very friendly and we loved the cocktails. Whilst we didn't order one, the barman was also making a teapot of spiced warm cider. Looked good!
    Will definitely go back for drinks.

  • 4.0 star rating
    4/8/2010

    Really cute bar.

    Soft lighting, velvet couches, dripping candles, antiques, flowers and knick-knacks - the whole effect is per-itty girly, I gotta say.  The men in the place looked kind of incongruous in those charming settings.

    Cocktails are delicious: house combos are unusual and fresh-tasting (aperol and freshly-squeezed pink grapefruit, for example), and they also do the classics well.  

    Their quirk is that they don't stock vodka.  you what?!  I'm not opposed to vodka (I'm an equal-opportunity drinker), but I like a place that takes a stand. This is a bar that knows what it wants!

  • 2.0 star rating
    16/4/2011

    Hugely disappointing meal here. The pub itself does have a very quaint and interesting interior, but the food was just extremely typical pub fare and not very nice, despite the high gastropub and restaurant-like prices. Better to eat at one of Upper Street's excellent restaurants nearby for a similar price, and then head here for drinks. After all, drinks taste pretty much the same everywhere, don't they?

    My squid ring starter was way overburnt and smokey, to the point of having this extremely charred and bitter taste. The lamb rump was ok, although the shepherd's pie it came with could have done with more seasoning.

    Interestingly, they do quite a good ginger beer - and its homemade as well, the first I have seen in London.

    Reviewed by The London Insider
    london-insider.co.uk/201…

  • 4.0 star rating
    18/2/2012
    11 check-ins here

    This is my favourite bar on/around Upper Street.  I like to sit at the bar and watch the bartenders mix inventive cocktails from the seasonal cocktail list.  However, it is also nice to be able to reserve a table as an alternative - just give them a call.  The cocktails here are great. Whether you want the classics (Negoroni being my favourite) or the bar's more modern creations they are expertly and presented with flair.

    The front half of the venue is very much a bar (with snack food options).  The back is a restaurant.  I haven't eaten their yet but it always seems pretty busy when I am there - it strikes me as particularly good for groups as they have some big tables.

    • Qype User absint…
    • London
    • 81 friends
    • 264 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    28/7/2010

    Can't believe I've only just stumbled into this place! Unassuming from the outside, the interior of this place is something else: a shabby-chic paradise full of lovely old furniture finds, arranged to assure your night out is as stylish as it is comfortable.

    I had to sample one of the cocktails on the menu, and was completely blown away by it. Delicious! The restaurant looked well worth checking out, too.

    • Qype User thelon…
    • London
    • 49 friends
    • 73 reviews
    2.0 star rating
    10/4/2010

    Public House - Pics at The London Foodie
    (thelondonfoodie.co.uk )

    Just off the popular Upper Street on quieter Islington Park Road, Public House is one of those places that could easily be walked past unnoticed. This is a pity because unlike many of the boozers in this busy neighbourhood, Public House is distinctly idiosyncratic.

    Despite the unassuming entrance, the décor is rather stylish in a shabby chic sort of way - I loved the mismatched furniture and the soft lighting, the large and comfy sofas and the relaxing atmosphere that these create.

    Aimed at a more sophisticated, 30-something crowd, the furnishing, food and drinks menus (and prices) reflect this. The name is also a misnomer  Public House is not a pub, but a stylish bar and restaurant.

    Accompanying me for the evening was one of my dearest friends, Gary, owner of Start Space, a delightful gallery on 150 Columbia Road, where they sell one of the best cups of coffee in London (as well as some amazing contemporary art).

    We were welcomed by the friendly owner Simon Sheena who mixed us a stunning semi-frozen gin-based cocktail with much care and skill. In my opinion, this was a perfect cocktail  extra dry, with no mixers and hence strong and with a real kick.

    As we made our choices, we were served an amuse-bouche of mini blinis topped with fish roe, sea salt and chives. I am a real fan of any type of caviar and I enjoyed these despite the blinis being a tad dry.

    For starters, we ordered Scallops with haggis and champagne rhubarb £8.50 and Duck terrine with roast beetroot and beetroot leaf pesto £7.50. I thought the combination of seafood, lamb and rhubarb an intriguing one and so I just had to try it. The scallops were perfectly cooked and had their coral still on which I thoroughly approved of. Despite the odd combination of flavours, I felt the dish was well executed and beautifully presented and that the rhubarb added a welcome acidity to the rich meats.

    The duck however was not nearly as successful. The terrine was under-seasoned, with an even blander beetroot leaf pesto.

    For the main course, and keeping up with the odd food combinations theme of the evening, I ordered the Halibut with venison stew and wild mushrooms @ £17.95. My heart sank as I cut through the halibut, one of my favourite fish, to find it overcooked and sitting on a bed of dry and tough venison chunks. As regards taste, I struggle to find any redeeming features about this dish  it was dry, under-seasoned and the textures did not combine well. What transpired was an ambitious concept marred by a worrying lack of cooking skills.

    In contrast, the Braised lamb shoulder with turnip gratin @ £14.50 was a rather generous and well cooked piece of meat served with a deliciously concentrated and flavoursome jus. I felt the presentation was uncomplicated and pleasing.

    To accompany our main dishes, we ordered Colcannon @ £3. This was a tasteless combination of potato and cabbage, lacking both seasoning and flavour.

    For dessert, we had Chocolate mousse with coffee sponge fingers £5 and Prune and frangipane tart with calvados cream £5.

    Both were sadly disappointing, tasting uninspired, and sub-Tesco Finest in flavour and execution.

    Cost: this was a complimentary meal but I have quoted prices of all the dishes I tried. I estimate that a three-course meal would cost in the region of £30 excluding drinks. Public House is also on the TasteLondon scheme which entitles members to 50% off the food bill.

    Likes: stylish decor, and great cocktails in a relaxing atmosphere.

    Dislikes: the food and an expensive wine list with only two bottles under £20.

    Verdict: when I am invited to review restaurants, I hope in return to find good things to say about the food and overall experience. On this occasion however, despite the ambitious menu, I felt the food was mostly ill-conceived, and a real let-down, and sadly I cannot recommend it. I loved the decor, the excellent service and the wonderful cocktails, and as a venue for a sophisticated drink, I think that Public House is a real find.

    • Qype User garyan…
    • London
    • 28 friends
    • 60 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    11/4/2010

    Situated just off Upper Street, Public House is one of those bars you can walk past a thousand times and not even realise it's there, but well worth a visit, if just for the rather bizarre decor and a very impressive cocktail list.

    We were lured in by the promise of board games - and every table either had a different game or Sunday paper. It is, quite simply, a place you can slowly drink the afternoon away playing chess, backgammon or MahJong (assuming you know how to play the latter) with a beer, a long drink or a cocktail.

    The staff were friendly and helpful, and even though the beer list had been reduced after "a busy Saturday", they were happy to recommend from a good range of well-known and more obscure lagers.

    The long drink menu is also good vale with excellent summer fruit and spirit drinks, while the cocktails menu is playful and inventive and good value.

    We also went for some nibbles and happily munched on pitta and cracking humus and some absolutely delicious mozzarella and herb fingers.

    It may be just by Islington's busy and often ridiculously trendy and overpriced Upper Street, but this is a little oasis of drinking heaven, the kind Hemmingway would be proud of.

    • Qype User Lydiam…
    • London
    • 1 friend
    • 6 reviews
    3.0 star rating
    17/3/2010

    I went to this place a couple of months ago with my best mate.

    Yes the decor is lovely, the wine's not too pricey and it's a welcome change from many of the tacky places nearby.

    But I have to say the staff aren't all that great. They're all pretty arrogant, and you certainly don't get service with a smile.

    If you fancy a drink off the main drag, then I'd recomend this place, but don't spend all your cash in there - 25 Canonbury Lane a couple of minutes away is much better.

  • 5.0 star rating
    19/6/2010

    Great bar, friendly staff and delicious food! I love the quirkiness of the decor and some nights they have various talented people playing live music in the back. The cocktails are unique and the bartender always asks the right questions before making your drink. Great place to take your date! Hint hint! :)

  • 4.0 star rating
    21/11/2010

    I went to Public House the first time because I got a discount with a Taste London card.  We got there early on a Sunday and were the only diners there.  It's tucked away off the main Upper Street drag so the chances of walking in and getting a table are decent during the week.  

    The wine list is comprehensive and the cocktails exhaustive.  Good luck picking from the many options.  :)   A full menu page worth of champagne options as well.

    The starters and mains are generally really nice- reliable and above gastro pub quality.  It's not high dining, but certainly for a local place to get some food and drink on, this fits the bill.  So much so that when my husband and I wanted to get together to celebrate us having gotten married in the States with our London friends, we had 18 people meet us here.  The service for an unruly group was very patient and understanding.  

    The decor is as if you are in someone's house and moving from room to room.  The front is very loungey / boudoir-ish. while the back is eclectic - one table is glass topped while another is rustic wooden planks.

    An enjoyable place to eat and drink.  Recommended!

    Edit:  They no longer participate in tastecard, which is a shame.

  • 3.0 star rating
    8/11/2011
    1 check-in here

    I was a bit sad to come here for the Sunday roast to discover that they didn't have a vegetarian option.  I ordered the salmon instead which was nicely cooked but I didn't find it very filling.  I did however enjoy my Bloody Mary.  It wasn't the best one that I ever had but it was still pretty damn good.

  • 4.0 star rating
    10/8/2011

    If I'm perfectly honest, I'm a little peeved that so many people have found out about this wonderful little bolt hole. I've been frequenting it since it opened and love the cocktails, ambiance and service. Great for a quick post work drink or a starting block for those nights when you pop out for a swift half but somehow manage to stagger in at 2am...

  • 3.0 star rating
    16/1/2012

    We ventured in here after eating at El Molino on Holloway Road.  It was crowded and lively.    The group  I was with all decided to have cocktails.  The bar staff  seemed very efficient and pleasant.  We ordered our drinks and managed to snag a table.  We were deep in conversation when a magician interrupted us and asked if he could show us a few tricks.  He was quite talented but I thought he out stayed his welcome somewhat however since none of us wanted to be rude we let him continue and shows us"just one last trick"  Nevertheless, I woudl return to this bar and would encourage others to visit as well.  One negative don't have a champagne cocktail- it was vile....

    • Qype User AfterW…
    • London
    • 5 friends
    • 8 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    10/2/2009

    Tucked away just off the Highbury & Islington end of Upper Street, Public House is a rather well kept secret. We went on a Thursday night and it was quieter than we would have expected but there was still a buzz of atmosphere. From among the eclectic mix of furniture we plonked ourselves down on the chesterfield sofa, and had a cosy corner of the candle-lit room to ourselves. We chose a few small plates from the menu (lamb skewers, wedges and potted venison) and washed them down with a cocktail and glass of wine from the excellent, extensive wine list. Everything was prepared to a superb standard, and the home made chilli ginger beer deserves a special mention - delicious! The service was attentive, friendly and made us feel very well looked after. We crossed London to visit Public House on a friend's recommendation and it was well worth it, we'll be back soon.

    • Qype User ahg19…
    • London
    • 1 friend
    • 8 reviews
    3.0 star rating
    15/1/2011

    Public House is quite unlike any other bar/restaurant in islington. It seems like a collaboration of a bunch of mates who decided to open their own bar and run things "their" way. This is nice because the place has real "character", but this is also a double edged sword. An example; I went there with a friend and we asked what beers they had. We were given a list of varied and interesting sounding hand picked beers from around the world. "What are they like?" my friend said. "Oh, they're all really disgusting", he replied sarcastically. It felt like a little bit too much personality to me, and a bit rude to a very innocent question, not a personal assault on their personal drink choices. The cocktails are nice and lovingly created. The food is quite good, but I suspect a little bit too adventurous for the skills on offer, and in all truth a little too pricey.

    The place has got a bit of an edge that Ziloufs doesn't. I suspect it's a little bit too cool for me. With the exception of one over zealous barman, the staff are very friendly. Worth a look, but go there for the cocktails first.

  • 1.0 star rating
    5/11/2011

    This is my least favourite bar in the world.  Some of the staff are absolutely vile - rude and with such arrogant attitudes.  I have been twice - and thought that the first time may have been just an "off" night.  But when we returned and it was exactly the same (and we are very courteous people who like our food & drink and love the idea of this place) we swore never to return.  Why would you employ people who cannot relate to other humans?

    • Qype User london…
    • London
    • 0 friends
    • 1 review
    1.0 star rating
    8/6/2009

    The staff just act very strangely and seem to have more time to hug each other than to take care of their clients. The bar is superbly decorated, but the food is disappointing and expensive. Keep the place, replace the staff and the chef!

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