The Princess; 76 Paul Street, EC2A 4NE; Tel: 020 7729 9270; Tube: Old Street
Thursday, June 28, 2007
The area around Hoxton Square is full of yummy places to eat. But the Princess gastro pub just off Great Eastern Street doesn't seem to suffer from the plethora of alternatives -- both the bar and the upstairs dining room were full on our Thursday night visit. The small pub is cosy and informal, with well-worn wooden tables and Tim Taylor as well as London Pride on tap. The daily specials chalked up on the board included BLT, seafood pasta, risotto and merguez sausages with cous cous -- all good, tasty-sounding and filling stuff at around £8 a plate. But one of my dining partners was feeling fussy, refusing to be tempted by such pedestrian food and ushring us up the metal spiral stair case into the restaurant. This is a much more formal affair, with crisp white table cloths and beautiful patterned wall paper on the back wall (whose leitmotiv reappears on the menu). We bypassed the pricey long and pricey wine list -- the front page is all above £20, though I did find something towards the back around the £16 mark -- in favour of well-kept pints of the ale. My cinnamon chicken breast was juicy, further moistened by a filling of feta and a grilled lemon and accompanied by beautiful shavings of courgette and pine nuts. The vegetarian dish (slow cooked wild mushrooms with parmesan on a pool of polenta) was surprisingly nice, somehow transferring polenta into something actually quite edible. The confit of duck was also good, though a bit dry for my taste. The portions were decent enough to satisfy our appetites without the need of more than one side order (garlic green beans, £3.95) -- just as well considering each plateful came in at around the £14 mark. All in all, a lovely pub, but the more pricey and elegant restaurant is probably best saved for a special occasion when you are willing to dent your credit card a bit more.