Our high-flying advertising guru friend, Kelsey (a.k.a Chelsea, a.k.a Gail the Whale) flew in from Boston for ONE NIGHT ONLY this Friday prompting an old-fashioned gathering of pals in one of my now favourite London pubs, The Crown and Goose in Camden.
Tucked off the main Camden drag on Arlington Road, this is a gold nugget of a pub, a real humdinger, with an artful, down-at-heel vibe that combines exposed brickwork, antique picture frames and an original wood-panelled ceiling (wonderful!) with scratched oak tables, comfy pub chairs and lots of outdoor seating for smokers.
Because it’s off the beaten track, this pub has the advantage of being just the right sort of busy – not rammed in the way that pubs in Shoreditch or Soho are on a Friday night – and we were thus able to book a table for twelve people at very short notice. Result.
We clustered round a long, candle-lit table at the back and ordered bottles of wine. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a get together like this – all the old buddies, out on a Friday night, full of gossip and a who-knows-where-the-night-might-lead sort of vibe – and the dim lighting, great music and trendy but not-too-cool-for-school crowd of The Crown and Goose – made it all the better.
We ordered food from a classic pub menu featuring solid booze-soaking favourites such as fish and chips and pork belly. I appreciated the waitress telling us that it might take a while due to a private party upstairs – afterall good service is often about managing expectations, and if it’s done with a smile and an apology, really, who’s going to mind? We were far too busy slurping sauvignon anyway.
Well, it would be easy for the food to be crap in a place like this and, to be honest, this wasn’t the sort of evening where we would have minded. By the time the food did arrive though, it was noticeably good. My pan-fried seabass with purple sprouting broccoli, butternut and shrimp salsa verde was excellent – hot, really well cooked and delicious – and there were thumbs up from all around the table.
What a joy that this pub stays open so late – until 2am! There’s nothing worse than being turfed out at 11pm – just when you’re getting going. It’s very ill-considered, I always think, letting punters loose, out onto the streets, well before they’ve had their fill, when they’ll only make mischief while trying to find somewhere else, and when the atmosphere is this good, you’re going to struggle finding anywhere better anyway.
In fact, The Crown and Goose is so good – my perfect pub really – that I don’t really want too many people knowing about it. But seeing as I only have about 50 readers, and it won’t be for all of you, I’ve shared the love. One thing you should know though. At one point in the evening, Gail sniffed the air suspiciously and asked if anyone could smell sewer. I could, actually, I said, just the odd waft, and it wasn’t bothering me. But Becca put it better. “You’ve got too used to your swanky American cocktail bars, you have, Chelsea! This is what British pubs smell like! Welcome home!”
The Crown and Goose
100 Arlington Road
T: 020 74858008