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Island Queen

87 Noel Road, Islington, London N1 8HD

This is a sensational local in the quiet back streets of Islington. Staggeringly handsome, the Island Queen has its own quirky and very comfortable sense of style. The name (it’s the only pub in Britain to be called this, apparently) is carried through in the decor – real palms and glossy plants, along with lush tropical greenery hand-painted onto huge vintage mirrors, lend a whiff of old-fashioned colonial panache to what, as a glorious dark-wood gin palace, is already a lovely room. Meanwhile, the fresh flowers, bookshelves packed with old paperbacks, battered old tables and comfy sofas give the place a friendly, very homey feel. The ceilings are high and glass twinkles everywhere – tall windows, vast mirrors, traditional etched glass, funky modern chandeliers – which creates a welcome sense of space. The late-night crowd is youngish and friendly, while an older, more local bunch settle in during the early evening – families are welcome. As for the beer – the Island Queen offers a solid selection, with well-kept ales including Doom Bar and Tunnel Vision, and a good choice of bottled imports along with a longer-than-average wine list. The traditional British food is well above average, with a changing menu based on seasonal ingredients from artisan suppliers. Sunday roast is a favourite, offering beef, roast chicken or a veggie option (the steamed mushroom and suet pudding is far tastier than it sounds). Other highlights include the slow-cooked ox cheek and red wine pie with kale colcannon. In summer, try to score one of the outdoor tables at the front; the road is quiet, so it’s a real delight to drink here.

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