Review: Phileas Hog at the Abbey Tavern

Pig out on the neighbourhood’s most underrated streetfood kitchen, where the meat undergoes up to 18 hours of slow cooking

A real passion for provenance and quality: the signature burger. Pics by Stephen Emms
Recent visits to the Abbey have entailed either late night disco-dancing or a beeline for the garden terrace, if conditions have been even vaguely clement.

Therefore an invite on a weekday lunchtime, with the sun streaming in through those attractively oversized windows, was a bit of a revelation.

Those attractively oversized windows
We’d broken with form because it was high time to check out the Phileas Hog kitchen residency. Stepping cosily into the shoes of Farmer Tom – who put the Abbey on the map as a foodie, meat-focused destination – this local streetfood brand is actually a better fit for a pub with a young, party-startin’ kinda clientele.

The promise is unfussy but quality burgers and baps to accompany the decent range of drinks at the bar, all keenly priced and with nice touches like side dish poutine, the sloppy marriage of chips, cheese and gravy hailing from Montreal.

So, paired with a delicious bottle of Camden Brewery’s latest Versus series beer, a dark, hoppy brew with an Italian accent, we ploughed into the proudly rare, aged Scottish chunk beef at the dripping heart of the signature burger (£6.75). The patty was melt-in-the-mouth soft and super juicy, with the classic bite of gherkin and all-American sauce flavours spot on.

A decent vegetarian burger is an elusive find, so we were keen to sample the smoky sweet potato-based Veggie Kray (£6.25). As meat-free versions go this was a success, and with a decent looking aubergine parmigiana on the menu too veggies won’t feel short changed here, despite the menu’s focus on flesh. But wouldn’t the sweet potato have made a better dish if not attempting to be a substitute burger at all?

The veggie option
Super-crisp onion rings and triple cooked chips (both £3) were dangerously moreish as we sank a dry, sweet bottled Orchard Pig cider, a perfect foil for the trademark pulled pork ciabatta. The rightly-acclaimed meat undergoes up to 18 hours of slow cooking, meaning it is a far cry from the dry BBQ bap fillings that are the comfortable cliché of the streetfood movement.

Coleslaw and smoky sauce made this asloppy affair, but all the better for it. All the meat here comes from Harry’s Fine Foods, where founders Ella, Joe and Jack set up shop after their early Brick Lane market sorties.

There remains a real passion for provenance and quality here, intentions that seem to have been compromised at other outwardly similar pub residencies. Chef Jack was keen to talk us through details such as his efforts to source the perfect bun, and to show off the new smoker out in the garden, where they are now producing deeply flavour-infused meat and fish, deftly riding the barbecue zeitgeist.

The verdict? Way more than decent pub grub, highlighting just how far the boozer burger has come.

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Kentishtowner rating 8/10. Meal for two with a beer each around £30. 124 Kentish Town Rd, London NW1 9QB


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  • Dan

    Their burgers & sandwiches have been consistently great all times of the day for me. Not as keen on their sides, but the poutine is a big joyful sloppy orgy of everything on this earth that is bad for you. When I find myself in some gastro gaff being stiffed out of £18 for a “21 day aged aberdeen angus” dry gristle patty in a “organic three-grain handbaked” stale bun, served on some unnecessarily complex arrangement on a poncey block of wood, I cry and think of this.