After years of anticipation, rumours and delays, the beautiful building on the corner of Clerkenwell and Goswell Roads finally got spruced up with a lick of lemony yellow paint and demurely opaque windows and has rediscovered itself as a trendy pub with gastro tendencies. The room downstairs has been beautifully restored, with the wood panelling, the chandeliers and the windows giving a nod to a bygone era. But the place manages to give a thoroughly modern, slightly aloof air, with its modern furniture and a wide selection of expensive continental largers on tap. We filled up on London Pride (£2.80 and the only ale on offer - perhaps a miscalculation by the management as they frequently seem to sell out), and perused the bar menu. The dishes range from the simple ( soup, wild mushrooms on toast) to the bizarre (confit of duck risotto with orange and parmesan) and most mains are under the £15 mark. Two of us couldn't resist the fillet steak, served in a fairly modest portion but presented like a work of art with a slick tower of potato and a dollop of melting horse radish cream (£16). It was delicious, but to me felt somehow too pretentious for a pub. The steak sandwich was simpler though again on the small side (about £8), whilst fish and chips was another work of art - the fish in thin tempura batter stacked on a jenga of thick chips. For me the chips (we ordered two extra bowls, at £3.50 each, which was just as well given the portion size) were arguably the best bit -- truly chunky, yet crisp and served (unbidden) with dishes of ketchup and good quality mayonnaise. Upstairs, there is a "proper" restaurant with a ( even) less casual menu at around £22 for 2 courses, but on an earlier visit it lacked diners and atmosphere. The food in the bar is nice, and the bar itself is not without charm, but a cosy "local" this ain't and at these prices I don't think we'll be back too often.
Hat & Feathers, 2 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1M 5PA; Tel. 020 7490 2244; Tube: Barbican
Edited to add that this place now has a rather nice outdoor terrace with heaters, where you can also snack from the bar menu.
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