The Marquess Tavern, Canonbury Street, N1
- Credit: Archant
The Marquess Tavern is certainly not short of history.
Built more than 150 years ago, it was reputedly the favoured boozer of legendary novelist George Orwell, who lived nearby for most of his life.
It sits on the banks of the historic New River; philanthropist Hugh Myddleton’s attempt to get clean water into the capital which is 400 years old this month.
And there is something pleasingly archaic about the place; it nestles comfortably like an old friend amid the cottages of Canonbury.
Despite a recent makeover the interior is very much old English pub; polished wood, subdued lighting and plenty of knick-knacks on the walls including many a tribute to their former dystopian author customer.
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The menu, too, is decidedly retro, with wild boar, grouse, dripping and fish and chips aplenty.
Some of these are given the gastropub treatment (samphire, triple cooked chops and so on) and there are some more adventurous fish and vegetarian dishes.
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But, dining on the terrace during a lovely late summer evening, we kept things simple sharing a farmers platter; the star of which was the fantastic boar Scotch egg.
The pigs cheeks croquettes were a touch on the bland side, but the salami and chorizo were nice enough and it was all very pleasant washed down with a pint of the guest ale.
For the mains we hit the specials; the turbot fillet was as dream; cooked until firm but still tender and drizzled in an impressively smooth yet piquant lemon cream. The large slice of pomme anna that came with it was a little bit dry, but buttery and delicious nonetheless.
The grouse, done two ways no less, was also good, although so rich and gamey it made me need a lie down. The thigh was a tiny little thing and hard to get at, but the breast was bountiful; lots of deep, smokey and strong pink meat to be had. The bacon sauce had to be robust to stand up to it, as did my Malbec from the useful wine list.
Despite being rather full, the chocolate terrine was a tempter and well worth it; smooth and decadent, softened with honeycomb and cool frozen custard.
The refurb and the new menu have done the Marquess proud and it’ll no doubt be a big draw for locals, New River ramblers and general pub enthusiasts across north London.