MUST DO: St John Tavern, Archway


Reinvigorated N19 institution that’s once again a real food destination – especially in the cold weather



Front dining room and bar area. Photo: St John
Atmospheric front dining room and bar area. Photo: St John
This handsome north London gastropub – you know, the one with that quite glamorous dining room out the back – reopened after a spruce-up a few months ago. Now, the whole operation feels fresher, and more in keeping with nearby Kentish Town’s competitive dining scene.

Like many vogueish places nowadays, it’s all about attention to detail (and no, that doesn’t just mean a decent range of craft beers on tap): here the chefs make stocks from scratch, bake sourdough on a daily basis, using British flour, and carry out all their own butchery.

Excellent: Swordfish with roasted fennel. Photo: SE
Excellent: Swordfish with roasted fennel and salsa verde. Photo: SE
The kitchen is now visible, the roaring fire an essential draw in this prolonged spell of chilly weather, and the resulting dishes far more reliable and interesting than of old, with an emphasis on British cooking with some European touches.

And we can recommend much on the menu, having feasted recently on Barnsley chops, wonderfully pink slabs of roast beef, pillowy lamb cutlets and – best of all – marinated swordfish with roasted fennel and salsa verde during a leisurely Saturday lunch. Service is charming and smiley, too. Vino is by the glass – and not too pricey, neither.

In short? A perfect local. Just a shame it’s not quite our local – although at least that gives us a much-needed brisk walk home afterwards.

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Starters from £6, mains from £12. Wine list from £3.25 a glass and all the usual London (and further afield) ales, beers and lagers. The St John is at 91 Junction Road N19, open daily until 11pm. More info here

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