The first stop on my legen — wait for it…dary (!) pub crawl mission was The Castle. I picked a place I could walk to from home, but not close enough to make it seem like I was being lazy. The Castle is on Pentonville road, a few minutes walk from the Angel Tube station. I had walked past it the previous week and it had a certain appeal from the outside. It was missing the polish of a chain pub (which often means they lack character) and also wasn’t as run down as some of the independents I’ve seen around Highbury & Islington.
I got there mid-afternoon on Monday, Nov 1 and paused outside making sure this was where I wanted to start my project. It seemed light and airy inside, with only a handful of people so I popped my head in.
I walked to the bar and was immediately greeted with a smile (which rarely happens in London). One of the beers on tap caught my attention, mainly because of the name. It was called TEA, but I soon realised this stood for Traditional English Ale. I inquired about it and was offered a taste. I always accept a taste. I liked it and ordered a pint.
Being a Monday afternoon, the pub was mostly empty and I had my choice of tables. I usually prefer to sit at the bar, but British pubs generally don’t have too many stools. This allows people easier access to the bar, which I like.
The beer was a lovely honey/amber coloured best bitter. Funnily, I found out later that TEA was voted “best bitter” in 2000. Not a very hoppy ale, I found the beer very drinkable but somewhat characterless. A fruity finish capped a very enjoyable £3.25 beer.
The staff at The Castle were very friendly, and as one Yelper puts it, the pub has an ambiance of being cool without knowing it. The atmosphere is very laid back, and the few tables up front are complemented by some cushioned couches in the rear. The lunch menu seemed very interesting, if a little pricey. There are stairs at the rear leading to a roof deck but since it was a little nippy, I didn’t check it out. I imagine the place is quite bustling on a balmy summer evening.
The Castle is definitely a place I’ll want to check out again when I have a little more time and money, and I’m eager to try one of the delicious looking items on the menu.