So, after six years living in North London a hop, skip and a jump from the Duke of Cambridge organic pub in Angel, I finally made it there for dinner this week…now that I live four miles south of the river.
The pub has a staggering list of awards and credentials, including being the only UK pub certified by the Soil Association; creator of the first fish policy to gain Marine Conservation Society approval; London Dining Pub winner in the Good Pub Guide three times; and winner of an RSPCA Ethical Business Award. Owner Geetie Singh received an MBE in 2009.
I wondered whether the Duke of Cambridge’s critical acclaim may have gone to its head and turned it into a pretentious gastropub (or that it might be so evangelically organic that I’d feel out of place not dressed from head-to-toe in hemp).
Happily, this was not the case at all. Being several hundred metres off Essex Road means the clientele has made a conscious effort to be there. Mismatched tables and chairs, candle-lighting and friendly staff make it cosy and welcoming, and I was fascinated by the shelves packed with homemade jars of pickles and preserves.
The pub’s commitment to locally-grown and organic produce is impressive: 80% of fresh produce comes from the Home Counties, and only those ingredients which are in season are used. Tea, coffee, chocolate and nuts are Fair Trade; wine, beer and soft drinks are organic; and the pub buys and uses entire animals, wasting nothing at all. Lesser-known, sustainably-caught fish like gurnard and pollack are preferred and only filtered tap water is served.
But something I was particularly interested to hear about was the Duke of Cambridge’s commitment to its local community. Chefs from the pub have trained the cooks at nearby Thornhill Primary School to create healthy menus of local produce. They have also worked with Kate Greenaway Nursery to create a community kitchen, and taught the pupils at Highbury Fields Secondary School to cook and serve healthy, organic dishes to their classmates. It’s this level of community-involvement that puts the Duke of Cambridge in a different league to some of London’s other excellent organic eateries, like Bumpkin and Daylesford Organic cafés, for me.
The pub’s insistence on seasonal produce means the menu changes twice a day, but you can download a sample menu for each season to give you an idea of the treats in store. On the menu on Thursday night was Stichelton and pear salad; duck with potatoes; sustainably-sourced mussels with white wine, cream and parsley; wild boar; quiche with Portobello mushrooms and beetroot salad and more. I plumped for crispy goose croquettes served with a spicy tomato salsa that cut through the richness of the goose perfectly. At £8-£12 for starters and £12-£22 for main courses, it is certainly not a cheap-eat. But if you’ll consider paying a premium to know where your steak or spinach came from, the D of C is definitely worth crossing the river for.
*See 4Food for articles on topics including food waste, Fairtrade food, and where to buy sustainable fish.