Up and down the city road,
In and out the Eagle,
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel
It all sounds innocent enough, but actually the last line is said to refer to local workers pawning their tools at the end of a working week (a weasel is apparently some kind of yarn measuring device) to fund a few rounds down the pub. Very educational.
I'm not sure many people pawn stuff to drink here these days, though it's not the cheapest place in the world. But it has plenty to recommend itself. There's a great selection of drinks, including regularly changing cask ales. Inside, lights twinkle around the dark wood bar. There's pretty wall paper and chandeliers. And best of all there is a huge (by central London standards) beer garden, with ramshackle furniture and leafy trees. During the last world cup, they found lots of old portable tellies somewhere (some black and white!) plonked one on each table in the garden. Seeing as this is a food-reviewing blog, I suppose I'd better mention that too. The menu features burgers, snacks, roasts etc -- all simple, but good stuff that you'd expect in any gastro pub these days. Last week, we sampled the salads (£8ish). Mine featured warm new potatoes, chorizo, cheese, sundried tomatoes and green leaves. It was gorgeous. The husband's Caesar salad had iceberg lettuce, generous shavings of parmesan and chunks of char-grilled chicken. Normally though I skip the salad and go for potato wedges -- either with cheddar and chorizo or with stilton. For about £3.50 you get a large plate which perfectly soaks up the beer without denting your night out budget too much.
Incidentally the other Eagle , the so-called original gastro pub on Farringdon Road, is somewhere I haven't taken to. We visited twice over the years and it always felt a bit chaotic and rushed. The menu above the open plan kitchen seemed limited (last time I had something which turned out to be not dissimilar to philadelphia on toast, which for about £6 was a bit much). But may be I am just uncouth - I'd rather pawn my wares for good old potato wedges.
The Eagle, Shepherdess Walk, City Road, N1 7LB; Tube: Old Street