Perhaps it's the Bowler's location (hidden down a side road just off the buzzing Exmouth Market) that has caused it, by our rough estimate, to change owners four times in as many years. One particularly dodgy incarnation featured it painted bright pink on the outside with the atmosphere of a rough council estate pub on the inside. Now though it is a much more pleasant shade of dark green and the interior (and clientele) have changed beyond all recognition. The room is light, with wooden tables and brightly coloured flowery, swirly paintings on the walls -- with cleverly matched lamp shades attached to each one. The menu is short and simple -- about five light bites like chips and nachos, and about 10 mains. Trying to be healthy, I resisted the temptation of baked camembert with mushrooms, bread and gherkins (will have to come back and try it another time!), and opted for the lower-calorie-sounding duck breast in honey sauce with greens (£7.95). The duck was browner than I would have liked, but tasty enough, and the greens were lovely. But sadly it was all drowned in the yucky (a very technical restaurant reviewing term) sweet sauce and I could not finish it. My companion though struck gold with the steak sandwich -- a veritable bargain at £4.95. A baguette came piled with rate slices of beef, lovely sun-dried tomatoes and caramelised onions, accompanied by a large mountain of onions. And I was more than happy to fill up on the chips (billed as Belgian, £2.80), which were thin, clearly home-made and deliciously crispy. A bottle of viognier (£13.25) was a delicious accompaniment to the bargain-priced meal, and we left determined to return.
The pub offers 15% off the total bill to holders of the Wedge Card www.wedgecard.co.uk. I've never heard of it before, but a quick look at the website suggests that it's a much better bet than the www.tastelondon.co.uk bit of plastic. The Wedge is the brainchild of the guy who launched Big Issue, it costs £20 with half the cash going to a charity of your choice and it offers discounts at loads of (small, local, non-chain) shops as well as bars, clubs and restaurants.
The Bowler, 28-32 Bowling Green Lane, EC1R 0BJ; Tube. Angel or Farringdon