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Waiting for the ghost bus
by Ethel Minogue
A PRINCELY ARRIVAL
The Prince 59 Kynaston Road (behind Church St.) N16 0EB. Tel: 020 7923 4766 Opening Times - Normal Pub Hours Babies & Children Welcome. Party Room.
The meaning of the term gastro pub will always be open to debate. Some people reserve it for all pubs offering a high standard of cuisine - more restaurant than pub. Personally, I perceive it as being a pub probably run by an individual with a real love of food, who understands that customers now want a more aesthetically pleasing, non-sexist, racially mixed environment with a varied choice of honestly prepared food and a decent wine list. A place where men can drink wine without having their sexuality called into question.
The Prince, formerly the Prince of Wales, is a welcome arrival on the Stoke Newington pub scene. In the current climate of local back street pubs closing in droves due to high rents imposed by breweries and large pub companies, it is heartening when someone has the courage to transform a tired old boozer into a relaxed but sophisticated gastro pub - which meets all the standards I have mentioned. The Prince has gone for the modern look, but happily has not ended up as a Slug and Lettuce or All Bar One clone. An attractive zinc counter has been built over the original horseshoe shaped bar. A rich claret colour on the walls and everything else gives substance to the stripped down effect. A clear glass partition between the bar and the restaurant also serves as a wine rack and draws one into the more serious eating area next door.
Con Maguire, the convivial host at The Prince, attracts a very Stokey mix of hip newcomers, old and new bohemians and locals. The range of draught beer is small but tailored to the clientele and includes SteIIa, Staropramen and Hoegaarden. There is a good range of Belgian bottled beers, including Chimay, Duel, and Leffe at £2.95. Bottles of Paulaner (£3.25), a Weiss beer, are served with lemon wedges in stylish glasses. The wine list is impressive, a well chosen selection from France and the rest of Europe with some up- to-the-minute New World wines. This is hardly surprising as the owners of The Prince are also behind the Cooler, the high quality food emporium on Church Street. The list ranges from a very drinkable French Chardonnay and Grenache Merlot, both at £8.95 a bottle, to a Mount Hangi Ghiran, a Pinot Gris from Australia, and a Cabernet Sauvignon Alber I Noya from Spain £18.95.
Eating at The Prince is not a formal affair. There are classy snacks - a mezze plate of luscious olives, nutty hummous, artichokes, cornichons and sun-dried tomatoes costs, £4.00, and salami may be added on request. A substantial steak sandwich is £5.00. Real sausages with garlic mash and red onion marmalade is £7.50 and vegetarian sausages are available. There is a childrens menu which includes organic ice cream at £1.25. There is a more substantial menu, which we sampled in the Dining Room last week. The food style is based on high quality ingredients minimally mucked about with. Memorable is the fillet of cod with red wine butter sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and caramelised baby onions (£7.75). For pudding, the tart au citron with cream (p3.95) was light and lemony as it should be. Carmen, our waitress, was charming. All in all, The Prince has tried to break the mould created by stereotypes. It offers a broad range of food and drink at reasonable prices and is a relaxed and extremely pleasant place to hang out.
Avis Fenner feeds her hangover
Its late Sunday morning. Your head rues that last bottle of Chardonnay and you have run out of Alka Seltzer. What you need is some nice oeufs benedictine and a bucks fizz or two but the best by date on your egg carton goes back to the last century and theres no OJ. Dont despair, brunch is just around the corner. Heres a selection of what is on offer.
The Blue Legume opens 9.30 am on Sunday and serves up a traditional English breakfast for £5.95 (chicken or veg sausage) until 2pm. Eggs poached or scrambled, BLT ciabatta and waffles. They also have pan fried mushrooms on toast with crème fraiche, and for the health conscious theres organic honey waffles and fresh fruit. No hangover cocktails but beer or wine and gravelax home cured with gin served with scrambled eggs might be all you need. They do that, plus the BLTs and waffles, until 4.00 pm. 101 Stoke Newington Church Street
Brunch is a big feature at Blush Cafe/Bar which serves from 12.00 noon to 6.00 pm, followed by live music. They have an organic meat or veg breakfast, eggs benedict, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, filled muffins, BLTs. Everything is £5.00, except, importantly, the Bucks Fizz for £2.00, champagne £3.00 and a guaranteed hangover cure: Bloody Mary for £3.00. They also have a childrens menu for £2.00 and from the beginning of May a garden that seats 40. 8 Cazenove Road
Booths Cafe Bar have a traditional English breakfast with bacon, sausage, egg, tomato, beans, mushrooms and fries for £3.95. They also have a light version with just the bacon, egg, beans and fries for £2.90. Plus they have smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, muffins, and a house speciality of cheese omelette pizza for £3.95. Its open from 11.00 and serves breakfast all day (on Sunday till 10.30) so it is still open for those with a very, very bad hangover. No specials on drinks but they can make you that Bloody Mary. 71-73 Stoke Newington Church Street
The Prince serves a traditional English breakfast with either meat or veg sausage, organic egg and muffin for £4.95. Not quite brunch but they also have bangers and sweet garlic mash with red onion marmalade (something to reach those damaged taste buds). A bar that will supply all needs and a kids menu for £2.50. Open from 12 noon to 12.30. 59 Kynaston Road
If you looking for that very relaxed place for your hungover head, where even wearing shades indoors would not be noticed, then you need the ambience of the Vortex. Here you can get a traditional breakfast, with vegetarian option, all day from 10.00 to 4.00 for £5.00. Plus pastries, scrambled eggs, BLTs and croissants. They can, of course, supply you with the drink of your choice. And if you recover sufficiently you can stay and join in the Sunday night karaoke. 139-141 Stoke Newington Church Street