Hidden away in the rather anonymous and uncharming area between Euston and King’s Cross sits Somers Town Coffee house, an unlikely named gastropub specialising in British tapas. “That sounds odd”, the Salted cod said when I told her, but in fact it is carried off very well. The pub in itself is very pretty inside, with sturdy tables, old school armchairs and a door hidden in a bookshelf for the curious (if you dare open it and walk down the staircase you may be rewarded an invite to their “secret” supperclub) and there’s also a beer garden outside.
Me and my friend shared six tapas dishes and an excellent bottle of Rioja (there are some Tuesday lunch luxuries only dissertation writing can warrant) which came to about £25 each, so it’s not a very cheap place. But some of the dishes were absolutely fabulous. I found a favourite in the rather blandly named Cheese and onion pie, which was incredibly rich and sweet, with a heavy note of caramelised onion and creamy, light cheddar cheese. Potted crab was also lovely, with tender crab and shrimp spreading out coarsely on the different coloured toast. The salad with asparagus, goats cheese and beetroot was simple but delicious, sampling the best of seasonal without making a fuss. We also had a salmon and prawn tart wich was strong and fresh the way only cooked smoked salmon is, with strong hints of dill.
The only let-down was the beef, stilton and stout pasties which had way too much pasty on them and were too dry, with no note of stilton. The jus that came with them was sweet and lovely, and complimented other parts of our dishes well. Since we were hungry we also opted for chips as one of the plates, which were perfectly fine, especially with the jus from the steak pasties, but being… chips, there wasn’t that much to wow us about them.
All in all, it was a lovely eating experience, and we both walked out full and content. This is a good way of sampling little bits of classic British food and when I come back (and I hope I will) I’d love to try the gourmet scotch egg, the smoked applewood chunks, de-shelled popcorn mussels and the marinated pork belly lollipops. If I add that smooth bottle of Rioja, maybe I’ll actually dare enter the bookshelf staircase for the supperclub. 7,5 meatballs out of 10.
Somers town Coffee House can be found here on the map:
Yesterday I ventured south of the river for a few drinks with my friend Nelson and stumbled across this little gem. We were originally set to go to Elephant & Castle but I failed to meet Nelson’s challenge of finding a nice after-work place to eat and drink there – is there not much in Elephant & Castle or does someone know of some diamonds in the rough? Recommendations are appreciated (especially by Nelson who lives there). Either way we went to Borough instead, and found the Roebuck.
The Roebuck is a lovely little pub with airy rooms and a chilled out atmosphere. They have a very thoughtful selection of flowery British ales and wheat beers on tap, sourcing from local breweries such as Meantime in Greenwich and Sambrook’s in Battersea (on a related note, pardon the blurry photos…). Their food is excellent too. Nelson who is veggie had the Celeriac rösti burger with kidney bean salsa and sour cream. Having been a veggie all his life, he said the burger in itself was an 8.5, as the flavours were lovingly planned and it was freshly prepared from scratch. If anything it was a little too rich in the cheese, but given the fact that it was a veggie burger, I can’t seriously take the “too rich” as a problem. The portion of chips was in the smallest category, sadly, as this would otherwise had been quite a bargain at £7.75.
I had an absolutely delicious pan fried coley (a regional white fish which happens to be a sustainable alternative to the over-fished cod) with cauliflower puree and courgette batons with garlic butter sauce (pictured at the top). The skin was crisp and packed full of flavour, and melted incredibly well with the tender fish and subtle cauliflower puree. The garlic butter sauce felt lush and a bit lavish, and was lovely. I often complain over England not being fish-loving enough (in comparison to my fish and seafood-obsessed Swedes), but this little revelation will certainly make me try fish in gastropubs more often. The coley at the Roebuck holds gastropub standards, and at £11.50 I thought that was rather cheap – but then again, the portion was quite small, so it’s more of a tasty treat than a filling main for a starving person.
All in all, the Roebuck is a very nice little pub. A real effort has clearly been put into creating interesting, locally sourced and freshly prepared food, and the ale selection is very satisfying. Go for a mid-week treat when you want to chill and have some good food, as the atmosphere seems a bit south of the river too – not too stressful, never packed, but very friendly and relaxed. If the portions had been of slightly bigger size me and Nelson would have given it 8 meatballs out of 10, but we settled for 7.5/10.
The Roebuck, 50 Great Dover Street, SE1 4YG
On the meatball and salted cod map: