A short walk from the Old Street underground station, The Angel bills in City Road itself as a “buzzing City street pub.” Entering, I was confronted with a fairly traditional pub set-up on the ground floor.
Upstairs, the décor and vibe got a little more funky: light-rock and chilled-out tunes played from the sound system. Large, high-res photos of dramatic stone angels decorated the walls, the grey-toned shots reminiscent of the album artwork for Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail.
Clearly, the traditional pub had given way to more of a trendy-lounge ambiance. But nonetheless, with its padded and wooden chairs, its flower-decked window sills, and its candle-lit tables, this was still recognisably a gastro-pub dining experience.
Now, I’ve heard that A.A. Gill – a big player in this restaurant reviewing game – often takes a woman with him on his evenings out, whom he refers to as “the blonde.” Not to be outdone, I brought along a companion who, for the purposes of this article and never in real life, I shall call the “sassy brunette.”
(It’s genius moves like this that have me sitting by the phone for hours on end, knowing that the Sunday Times are going to ring and hire me at any second).
A quick heads-up about the menu – the restaurant describes itself as a place “waiting to welcome you with comforting food.” So, in terms of the dishes it serves, it’s not going to have any radical shocks in store. For instance, the mains are mostly composed of things like BBQ ribs, burgers, fish & chips, and sausages in gravy. But within this familiar framework, The Angel crafts its recipes with an elegant, light, and thoughtful touch.
For my starter, I ordered the Roasted squash, tomato & baby gem salad, toasted seeds & a chilli jam dressing (£8.00). This was excellent. The toasted seeds added a pleasant amount of crunch to the salad, while the chilli jam dressing – one of those little twists on a classic dish – was sweet, fresh, and delicious. The only thing I would say against this offering is that, at £8.00 for a salad, it is a little overpriced.
Starter devoured, I was swiftly served with my main course: Pork & chorizo burger, caramelised red onion & fries. Although usually £12.00, I opted for the extra cheese on top, making it into a £13.00 meal. The well-cut chips were very salty, yet this gave them a satisfyingly strong flavour, putting them on a level above most pub food. The burger – again offering a twist with its filling of chorizo and beef – was rich and tasty, even if its flavours didn’t combine in a vivid enough way to make it particularly memorable. This dish also included, in a small pot on the side, a very enjoyable burger relish.
Finally, for the grand finale, I ordered Chocolate praline profiteroles, Judes salted caramel ice cream & caramel sauce (£8.50). The great and unusual thing about these profiteroles was that they were covered in a hard shell of praline chocolate. Yep, that’s right – they had chocolate on the inside and the outside. Coupled with the salted caramel ice cream – all the rage these days – and drizzled in caramel sauce, this dessert is a treat for any chocaholic or sweet-toothed diner.
Again, my only quibble is the price. £8.50 for three profiteroles and one scoop of ice-cream is a tad on the high side, resembling more the price you’d pay for a main than a dessert.
However, for all of our courses, the portions were of a generous and filling size, to the point where the sassy brunette – no doubt tired from a long day of being sassy, and losing some of her class – reported to me that, “she felt sick, but in a good way.”
On this emetic and well-intentioned note, we left the restaurant, agreeing that it was a haven in a busy part of the city. If you’re happy to pay a bit extra, and want to grab a couple of beers and hearty meal after a hard day at work, then I recommend The Angel in City Road as your next point of call.
words Josh Spiller