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The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker (Bar)

Picture of The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker in Clerkenwell, London

292-294 St John's Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V 4PA
Cuisine: Vegan
Tel: Not on file | Email to The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker | Transport: Angel | Write review

The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker Review

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Best for: real ales and deli-style pub grub.

Great: boozer. What more can I say?!

So, just what makes a great pub?

And so began the conversation between my friend and I whilst sitting at a table at the recently reinvented Blacksmith and Toffeemaker pub in Angel Islington.

“For me, it’s gotta have a lot to offer in the drinks department,” my friend opined, peering around at the display behind the bar. “Especially when it comes to ale. I love me a pint of ale.”

The Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker has four different types of real ale on offer: Deuchars IPA, Caledonian 80 Shilling, Courage Directors and my friend’s personal favourite, the fruity Theakston XB. Alongside the ale taps sit an array of other options for those not so keen on craft beer, including Guinness, Aspall’s and Heineken, and a wide array of spirits that would please even the pickiest drinker. For those that prefer their tipple in a wine glass, there is a small but perfectly crafted and diverse wine list.

“I think they’ve got it covered here,” I said, sipping a tall vodka tonic. “But I personally think the atmosphere does a lot to enhance or destroy my enjoyment of a pub.”

The pub hummed with the sound of people: friends sat around the edge of the pub drinking, eating, and chatting. The Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker attracts an eclectic crowd: its location close to City University means that a whole heap are students, but similarly, workers from around the Islington area in suits and carrying black briefcases.

The bar manager regularly looked over at us: to grin, to point to the drinks expectantly or to gesture to the deli counter bar snacks that decorated the front of the bar. Adverts for live music gigs occurring every Friday evening at the pub clung to each wall, and people passed them around whilst shoving tables closer to one another.

“Yeah, atmosphere is really important. But what about the food? The food has to be edible, because drinking without eating is never a great idea,” my sensible friend said, looking over my shoulder as the bar manager brought over our (perhaps hastily ordered) food.

The Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker doesn’t lay any emphasis on their food. The menu is short, with classic unpretentious pub grub dishes such as the classic beef burger – a fist-sized ball of pure, unadulterated steak mince encased in a brioche bun – Sri Lankan chicken curry, lamb hot pot and oozing but stodgy macaroni cheese, in a sauce that sticks to your ribs in a most pleasing, comforting manner. But where the pub really excels is in its deli counter offerings: roly-poly scotch eggs with leaking yolk that took me back to my childhood, and sausage rolls with fresh, puffy pastry and warm sausage meat, both encapsulating the notion of really good pub grub.

“You can’t be enjoying all this in some dingy dive though, can you?” my friend said, yolk dripping down his chin, then mopped up with a chunky chip.

And it’s true: dirty tables and floors sticky with yesteryear’s drink spillage don’t enamour me, much less make me want to stay there for any length of time. The Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker pub is divided into three sections: the front end of the bar, the second section that houses the much-salivated over deli counter, and the third section where we ate at plain wooden tables and which would later turn into an intimate space where the live music would be played. It could be described as shabby-chic: muted grey with faux-worn walls that somehow works without looking tacky and encourages plenty of light.

“Some pubs just work, don’t they? They just have enough of the right stuff,” my friend said. I checked my watch: we had been there three hours and I hadn’t even noticed.

“You’re right. Some pubs have just got it.”

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Loved

"Hi guys, I come here with my friends and have very good time. I like your place very much and is very good times. I come back when I can soon. Thank you very much." Which venue is this?

Hated

"Dreadful pub, run by people who have zero idea about hospitality or running a pub. Upon arrival we sat in the back garden that only had one other table occupied , when we tried to order off the lunch menu..." Which venue is this?

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