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The Castle (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of The Castle in Angel & Islington, London

54 Pentonville Road, Angel, Angel & Islington, London, N1 9HJ
Cuisine: Gastro
Tel: 020 77131858 | Email to The Castle | Transport: Angel | Write review

The Castle Review

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Remember the days when castles stood for something? When they were figures of authority, bastians of ideals, guardians of nothing more than a bunch of rural land. Those high, fortified walls were protected from loony attacks by Monthy Python sentinels with French accents. Those interior courtyards were filled with busying peasants and pigs swilling about in the mud. Those perilous moats were occupied by imaginary crocodiles and underwater tigers. Those sturdy domains were prisons for the occasional distressed damsel. Those windowless halls were draped with the hides of dead beasts, furnished with large, badly carpentered tables, at which sat rowdy, unkempt morons regaling one another with tales of their latest kill whilst gnawing on a bone from the very beast they spoke of and supping on mead so strong it rotted their teeth on site. Ah, the grim ole days. So where’s it all gone wrong? Why it is that castles nowadays are all so bloody cheerful? So comfortable? So filled with transient, migrating socialites?

Take The Castle in Angel, for example. If there’s a surface to sit or lean on, it’s been upholstered with cushion. The dark, gloomy fortified walls of yore have been extracted and replaced by sun-yielding sheets of glass, the easiest material to break during an invasion and the best way to be seen by those on the outside. The damsels don’t look very distressed either, in fact quite the contrary, and there is definitely more than just one of them. The grimy moat is still there; only now it’s called Pentonville Road, and the tigers have been replaced by monstrous transits and pernicious buses. And as for besiegements, there’s plenty of attacks....of the munchies, with a sub-tenner menu on hand to biff them away when necessary. On the whole, one might go so far as to say that this castle is so un-castle like it could almost call itself a venue of leisure and gaiety.

You’ve got to hand it to Geronimo Inns - the name behind the chain - they give good decor. Every one of the 20-odd venues they have nestled around London should have a sign outside proclaiming ‘Museum of Unusual Lampshades’. The general scene is one that could disclose some answers to that ‘Ram Raiders Hit Heal’s Warehouse In Massive Clear Out Job’ headline and the colour scheme, as is the Geronimo standard, is as earthy as a tent full of environment campaigners. Apparently, style AND comfort do not have to duke it out for supremacy and can live in peace and harmony. However, the ‘throne rooms’ (as they’re known) could be brought up to speed with the rest of the class because they lack regular attention and look more like the inside of a freight ship container than a Royal dunnie.

Unusually for Geronimo, The Castle is talking Saturday Night but speaking in Sunday Afternoon. It’s a veritable town criers convention down there. Many would call it loud; others, namely ‘the exuberant youth of today’, would call it atmosphere. Split levels, Jenga scattered hither and thither, a wine list that gets more attention from your partner than you do; somehow the space-time vortex has torn wide open and exposed a portal of some kind because this seem to be an alternate universe where everything exudes Clapham. If this isn’t Clapham, then it’s time to put down that wine list and take your medication.

Food, now there’s a subject the bigwigs at Geronimo could bore anyone with. They know a thing or two; generally. The mother load - or main dishes to us mere humans - are gargantuan, and quick. Geronimo’s policy writers obviously quit policy writing before they got onto Portion Control because no human is meant to finish this amount of food. Their ability to judge portion sizes is about on a par with their ability to understand words like ‘salad’ and ‘light fish’ because the menu is turning winter tricks even into the summer days. It’s all pies, mash, haddock, sausages and ham hocks. The lemon and thyme chicken was doing OK by itself until its mate turned up: Mount Colcannon. The menu mentioned red wine jus, and that’s all that arrived on the plate: a mention. The imbalance between Colcannon and jus is prejudice that even Nelson Mandela couldn’t fix. The Colcannon needs more than a mention of jus. It needs an argument of jus. Possibly even a lecture of jus. The response when asking for extra jus? Gravy, jus’s less achieving cousin. Same ilk, different breed. Like wearing Prada clothes with Gola footwear. What’s more, the risotto, although quite capable of representing the complex carbohydrates (as refined starches) at the Food Olympics, should surely contain all the ingredients promised on the menu when it’s served. Plus, the trio of dessert options is disappointing because by the time you arrive every man and his strawberry-cheesecake-chomping dog has eaten before you and you’re left with a choice of ice cream OR crumble (not ice cream AND crumble).

Overall, the food is like the cuisine version of a Tory manifesto: presented very well, but a few bricks short on the flesh and substance. That said, there is a good use of garlic and the specials are clearly just that because come 7.30pm they’re all but gorn. Winter food is good in winter, but then you cant make full use of the balcony. Hold up! Was that the word ‘balcony’ mentioned approximately 1.5 sentences ago? Indeed, The Castle does actually have a lookout. You couldn’t really call it a roof garden as such because garden would imply that growth is happening and unless you’re counting the facial hair on many of the young gents up there, you’ll be sorely chagrined.

The Castle is a location bar. It’s primed with out-and-abouters and a good place to start your Angel pub crawl. It’s more hospitable than castles of yore, but not as entertaining as the 1980s Aussie movie of the same name. Just remember, if you do pay a visit, super size your jus.
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Customer Reviews for The Castle

Average (based on 10 votes): 10 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of The Castle.

“Most people turn right when they come out of Angel underground station if they're going out, understandably, but this pub is a nice little treat in the other direction. A good selection of wines and beers, food that is comfortably hearty, and a roof terrace that is perfect for bus spotting. Best pub south of Angel tube but north of Clerkenwell. Probably.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Leigh, Tooting (8 years 5 months 1 days ago)

“Fine if you want a drink but forget if you want to eat. Poor staff together with a lack of any management means you're very unlikely to get your food within an hour of ordering. There are so many better alternatives to this place - so my suggestion is to give this place a miss.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Dipannita Betal, Tooting (10 years 7 months 21 days ago)

“Loved this place. good food, even better drinks. The Castle has been changed around a bit recently which just adds to the quality. My friend had a wedding reception here, the staff were everything we could of asked for, polite, friendly and helpful. def. coming back.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Mundo, London (11 years 5 months 27 days ago)

Show all user reviews for The Castle

“Love the place, the managment are doing a great job, service, food and a sexy tall latin barman. Just love it. Get there ASAP”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Adriana, London (11 years 6 months 1 days ago)

“Cool Place, nice and friendly staff... Worth going there, on Saturdays you can see the Monopoly people with their customs and stuff. Try the Sunday Roast, just great.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Munoz, London (11 years 6 months 2 days ago)

“I love The Castle: great music, a fantastic selection of beer, and loads of good wine for the ladies.The roof garden is perfect for the summer and even winter when it's covered. Good atmosphere and delicious food!!!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Roberto, Mexico City (11 years 6 months 2 days ago)

“Oh dear - won't be returning... After a quick round, my good lady went to the bar for a few drinks, including a Pimms & Lemonade. The barman poured a single measure (when in fact it should be a double - ask a decent bartender or landlord). My lady pointed out that this was normally a double, the barman replied that he wasn't about to change it now, because he'd already rung it up (or something). So my good lady said that she wasn't going to have that drink, at which point the barman (having already poured us a guinness) said, "I'm not going to serve you anymore". Oh dear - to make a cock-up and then be so bad-mannered? Shame on you, Castle management. We left the remains of our drinks and walked back down to the Red Lion, where the young lady poured Pimms as a double...”
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Vish, London (11 years 7 months 15 days ago)

“Perfect, especially on the weekends when every other pub is rammed with no where to sit The Castle is tucked away down Pentonville Road. The food was good and the most reasonable priced in the area. The decor leaves something to be desired but the staff were great, really friendly and knowledgeable about the local area. Put off a little by the scaffolding around it but were told by the manager that they are putting a bar in on the roof terrace for the summer which should be good. ”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Sam, London (12 years 29 days ago)

“Friendly staff, great food and reasonable prices. Tops!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Charlie, London (13 years 7 months 2 days ago)

“This is a good bar and I was impressed with a couple of very friendly Australian girls that worked there. The food was good and beer selection excellent.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Howard Priestley, London (13 years 9 months 23 days ago)

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Additional Information

  • Cuisine Type: Gastro
  • Dress Code: Not Specified
  • Group: Geronimo Inns

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