I remember living on Chapel Market in Angel ten years ago.
It was well before the likes of Waitrose and vegan bakeries had landed. Instead of swank, the road contained a cocktail of pound shops and bizarre hardware outlets.
There was also a menagerie of proper ‘boozers’, many of which I never made it into due to feeling a little intimidated by the blacked-out windows and glow of fruit machines illuminating out from the door.
The Agricultural, located at the end of Chapel Market, was one of the pubs I failed to frequent.
So when I heard that it had been transformed into a trendy bar and eatery I was eager to check it out.
Walking into the now renamed Islington Townhouse on a Friday night it was a hive of activity with funky music playing and groups of post-work party goers clinking glasses.
This was worlds away from the ramshackle drinking hole I used to meekly walk by.
Escorted upstairs to a warren of rooms, we were shown to our table. A warm and chic blend of interiors in the less rowdy back room snug made us feel right at home.
The Islington Townhouse, which markets itself as being a fun place to hang with friends, has a surprisingly inviting food selection – no greasy sausages or over-boiled vegetables in sight.
We were recommended to each order three plates off the tapas-style menu.
It was difficult to pick with so many tasty choices but in the end we came up with a plan of action.
Our bar banquet consisted of olives to start, 25 day aged steak tartare, gin cured smoked salmon blinis, stuffed aubergine and monkfish kababs.
To top it off we got a ‘bucket’ of chips, which delivered a seemingly never-ending supply of fries.
Our waitress, who appeared to be run off her feet with the barrage of customers occupying the ground and first floors, informed us – midway into dinner – that we’d failed to pick the best thing on the menu – the twice baked gruyere soufflé.
We didn’t take much convincing after her in-depth description of the ‘creamy delicious’ cheesy dish and we were glad that we took the plunge.
The soufflé – which appeared to have a bubbling, golden skin after its second baking – was perfect for dipping our crusty bread in.
We agreed that we were pleasantly surprised by the food. The attention to detail was great and the mix of flavours kept us busy.
The prices were also a plus, with the plates costing an average of £7.
The icing on the cake was dessert.
There was silence as we plunged miniature donuts into a bowl of chocolate sauce and scooped up burnt sugar plums with sprinklings of chocolate dirt’.
On the drinks front, the G&Ts come recommended. Served in giant glasses, you can stay classic or try some of the Islington Townhouse’s infused gins.
There are also dozens of cocktails to choose from and a pretty extensive wine list.
The only similarity to the marketplace boozer that is used to be, is that beers are still on tap at the Islington Townhouse.
The Islington Townhouse is located at 13 Liverpool Rd, N1 0RW
To make a reservation visit islingtontownhouse.co.uk or call 0203 637 6424