Much of the joy when traveling comes from indulging in local cuisine. When in London, culinary options range from renowned traditions like the comforting Sunday roast to exciting, contemporary dishes. In particular, the London borough of Islington bursts with creative takes on classic food, future-forward wine lists and cocktails outside of the ordinary. With many chefs focusing on local, seasonal produce, small producers, family-owned vineyards and more, there’s an overwhelming and pleasing new tradition that’s growing here. We’ve selected a few of our favorite places to eat and drink through one of London’s most entrancing areas.
Nestled in a quiet residential street, Georgian-era pub The Albion is a delightfully traditional Islington institution. From its creaky floorboards to the mish-mash of vintage furniture, cozy nooks, fireplaces and the wisteria-covered backyard, there’s an abundance of charm here. While popular for brunch or an afternoon Pimms outside in summertime, the Sunday roast appeases many groups, too. The shared Sunday dishes include a whole slow-cooked lamb shoulder (with Yorkshire pudding, of course), whole roast chicken cooked with lemon and thyme (and sage and onion stuffing) and plenty more. An extensive beer and wine list complements it all.
Both a natural wine shop and bar, Yield N16 is located right across from the tiny Newington Green park. Run by knowledgable staff who make the wine-selecting process easy and approachable, the shop features an extensive range of biodynamic, organic, artisanal and low-intervention wines made by small producers all over the world. Serving up simple charcuterie boards and small plates, the food is all organic and sourced locally. Next door, their sister venue Trattoria N16 delights with heartier fare like wood-oven pizzas. Yield N16 also hosts various wine-focused events and tastings, so guests can learn about winemaking processes, varietals and more.
The Pig and The Butcher
Country pub meets home dining room, The Pig and The Butcher has a decidedly familiar, laid-back vibe. The rustic space is airy and bright, with plenty of seating for parties of various sizes. The vast menu changes daily, thanks to the chefs’ close relationships with their suppliers. The result is a firm focus on high-quality, local and seasonal ingredients. From a lamb pie served with summer greens to grilled Cornish sardines served with heirloom tomatoes and watercress, many of the options are fresh, contemporary takes on traditional dishes. (At just £1, it’s worth trying the sourdough served with beef dripping and Fen Farm raw cultured butter.) There’s an equally impressive wine list—all from family-owned vineyards and co-ops—which continues the dedication to smaller businesses.
69 Colebrooke Row
One of the best signature cocktail bars in all of London, Islington’s 69 Colebrooke Row (otherwise known as the bar with no name) features an expert staff that knows how to mix a mean drink. The petite hideaway is one of acclaimed bartender Tony Conigliaro‘s finest—a sizable compliment as the cocktail mastermind is often credited with revitalizing London’s drinks scene. While an outdoor lantern may be the only physical indicator of the venue on the quiet back street, it does take bookings.
Housed in an early Victorian building, The Lexington honors London’s lengthy musical heritage. Its top floor plays host to a stage where either bands or DJs entertain, depending on the hour. A baroque mezzanine carries plentiful whiskey options. And downstairs, craft beers accompany a menu of elevated pub food and even vegan dishes. Their event schedule telegraphs what sort of night one can expect but it’s always a lively spot.
Images courtesy of respective venues