Hundred Crows Rising  (9312 views)

Reports of the death of the gastropub are greatly exaggerated. The Compass pub has been revamped, refitted and poetically renamed by the team behind nearby Elk in the Woods, and all the usual gastropub elements are present and correct. There's a bright, spacious wood-panelled interior; an inviting, innovative menu of British-based dishes, local ingredients and real ale - and a relaxed, convivial vibe. With its quiet location a short hop from Angel tube, it appears to be a foolproof recipe for success. A starter of piping-hot corned beef hash was elevated by the kick of scotch bonnet peppers, while deep-fried anchovies were satisfyingly crisp and delicately salted. A portion of rich, smooth chicken liver pâté fitted the bill, though the two slices of toasted flatbread it came with were too small for the spread. The main courses were less impressive. A pulled pork and beef burger with fried green tomatoes didn't quite work. The meat was too dry - pulled pork should melt in the mouth - and the garlic mayo wasn't flavoursome enough to offset the smokiness from a thick wedge of bacon. A slow-cooked beef stew hadn't quite been cooked slowly enough. Its wonderfully tart rhubarb sauce, a spot-on match for mashed potato and spinach, was let down by the chunks of chewy meat. After noting that portions were on the small side, we were surprised to receive an enormous and wonderfully rich chocolate brownie. But size was this dessert's undoing - its edges were warm, crisp and winningly gooey, but it was cold in the centre. Prices are reasonable, service is efficient, if a little uncertain (our waiter didn't know which draught ales were available), the wine list covers all the bases, including some English whites and rosés. The ingredient quality is good: bread from Flour Station, coffee from the Monmouth roastery, and fantastic ales from the Old Dairy Brewery in Kent. With a little tweaking in the kitchen, this will become a fine addition to Chapel Market's eclectic range of eating options. But for the time being, it's a better bet for a drink and a light bite.
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Location of Hundred Crows Rising
58 Penton Street, N1 9PZ
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