Eat Here: Hops & Glory, IslingtonBy Alicia Grimshaw
London is full of them: down side streets, in hotels, on top of buildings and popping up in the most unlikeliest of places. We’re talking about hidden gems – restaurants in fact. Hops & Glory, a country pub found in the depths of East London is by no means a new place, but thanks to a 3 month overhaul at the end of last year, the pub is back and better than ever. This isn’t just a place to grab a swift pint anymore, this is a restaurant in it’s own right, and you should be showing your face there. Here’s why:
Hops & Glory: The Vibe
A short walk from Canonbury Overground is where you’ll find Hops & Glory. Opened in 2012, the pub has undergone a major refurbishment to restore it to its former glory. It’s a slice of the country in the middle of the city – you wouldn’t look out of place here if you donned a Barbour jacket and a pair of Dubarry boots. Even for a quiet Monday night the place still have a vibe about it. It’s laid back, a pub where modern service has been seamlessly blended with traditional values. There’s plush leather seating, bar stools and a smattering of tables for both drinking and eating. There’s no garish televisions with music channels on repeat, or a surround sound pulsating the top 40 hits – it’s calm, relaxing and a welcome relief to other public houses.
Hops & Glory: The Food
The eating area isn’t a large space, and no doubt when word catches on about this place, they’ll be a wait for the tables. The open kitchen is to the left of the bar – watch as the chefs prepare European country dishes using the finest British produce around. The menu changes on a regular basis and uterlises the very best seasonal ingredients. The main reason why Hops & Glory is such is hit, is the simplicity. Nibbles include toasted sourdough bread with dripping, and Westcombe cheddar Welsh rarebit – nostalgic bites that are both comforting, tasty and well received on a freezing cold night in March.
You can’t fault the quality of food here, all the meat used is sourced from family owned Walter Rose farm in Wiltshire. The pork belly with grilled leaves, quince and hazelnut is a partnership of flavours that even Tinder would approve of. The powerful scent and sweet taste of the quince cuts through this savoury dish nicely. The pork belly is tender, yet perfectly crisp on top – the meat to fat distribution is just right. One bite and your mouth is flooded with a variety of different textures thanks to the hazelnuts. For a dish with big, gutsy savoury notes – the Harrogate blue cheese, with glazed parsnip and pear is a winner. To find a starter that feels familiar to a deconstructed cheese board is a rarity – but Hops & Glory pulls it off. The glazed parsnip and pears acts as a slightly sweetened chutney and a perfect base to the powerful blue cheese. Topped with brioche crumbs for that extra pizzaz.
The main course is where Hops and Glory really comes into its own. Without doubt the dish that deserves all the praise is the Hereford rump with horseradish, duck fat chips and roscoff onions. Fours ingredients that produces one hell of a dish. The rump is cooked medium rare – it’s more on the rare side, not that we’re complaining. For us, the rarer the better. There’s a generous dollop of horseradish – the ideal team mate for the beef. The dripping chips are reminiscent of roast potatoes – not overly greasy, proper fat cut chips and there’s more than enough of them.
Restaurants always seem to falter at the last hurdle: desserts. We praise a place for having a select list of puddings – Hops & Glory rarely have anymore than four desserts on their menu, and that’s including a cheese board. The dark chocolate pot with hazelnuts and cream is quite frankly, a triumph. Layers upon layers of thick rich chocolate, thankfully balanced with the cream – anymore and it would be far too sickly. It’s just the right portion. But, my friends, the standing ovation has to be award to the ginger parkin with rhubarb and butterscotch sauce. It’s a pimped up school dessert – in a good way. What could have easily been a stodgy, ginger mess, is a light sauce-y creation. The parkin is sticky and lightly spiced, and is generously covered in caramel sauce. Delightful.
Hops & Glory: The Drinks
Hops & Glory have been brewing in their basement since 2013, and now produce their own Hops & Glory Pale Ale which is available to buy at the bar alongside the latest brews from Solvay Society. The bar also boasts an extensive range of craft beer, with 15 beers on tap and 100 bottled. What’s more, they source all of their wine from their pals over at Borough Wines.
Hops & Glory: The Verdict
If you’re after a quiet dinner, a casual bite, or a new date spot – Hops & Glory ticks all the boxes. It may market itself as a pub, but the food and drink selection is far above pub quality. There’s a chilled ambience about this place – it doesn’t try too hard to be something it’s not. Hops & Glory has set a high benchmark for fine nosh and tipples in Islington. Just go.