o sooner did we learn that Camden Brewery had sold their diminutive Kentish Town Road taproom Camden’s Daughter, it emerged that The Pineapple, probably north London’s cultest backstreet boozer, had only gone and bought it.
History-buffs will know that –rewind two centuries –after Nelson’s death in 1805, his distraught mistress Emma relocated to Kentish Town to live near his uncle. “And so this pub is about celebrating Lady Hamilton herself,” chirrups manager Poppy Wheldon. And why not?
The interior is all dusky Victorian burgundies and pinks, with comfy leather seats, and dark wood finishes. On our inaugural evening visit, eschewing the decent range of London craft beer taps for a glass of red (a Cabernet Franc from a well-priced list) what was most impressive was how quickly the place has been transformed from Scandi minimalism to Pineapple MKII. In a good way.In fact, it looks like it’s been around forever, right down to the mirrored back bar, globe lights and ornate ceiling. Candles flicker on tables, 1970s kitsch classic prints like Vladimir Tretchikoff’s The Chinese Girl hang on the walls – and happily the kitchen has been opened up so we can see the talented chef at work.
Food-wise this is no jobbing cook. Spitalelds’ Yuu Kitchen (run by former Nobu chef Jon de Villa) is on hand with an impressively on-trend blend of Japanese and south-east Asian fare, from starters of grilled broccoli and chicken karaage to baos heaving with soft shell crab or pork belly.
It’s worth sharing a few small plates, if there are two of you. On my solo visit the barman was trying to push the kimchi fries – admittedly delicious-sounding but a little too unhealthy for weekday lunchtime requirements.
I chose a dish of cauliflower instead, its florets chargrilled, some blackened more than others, and dotted with sweetcorn, a fiery jalapeno dressing, shallots and shards of crisp garlic. Not bad at all, the only improvement potentially being some kind of accompanying dip. But I’d return in a flash for more.The baos are the main events, with signature wagyu beef also recommended enthusiastically by the barman, but strong vegan options exist too, like crispy tofu or shiitake mushroom with hoisin mayo.
My soy and buttermilk crispy chicken proved a towering affair, the thigh tender and juicy, with chilli mayo, daikon pickle and garlic (a reasonable £6.20). And there are healthy veggie bowls, should baos not do it for you.
In short, this is instantly some of the best food in the postcode. It’s a menu – and a pub – that’ll shape up well for a veganuary, dryanuary, or even your wettest January yet.