My experience of East London is quite limited, as I’ve only ever been there a handful of times for nights out, but suffice to say there’s very few other places like it in London. This is why, when Jack asked me to join him to the re-opening of The Three Crowns in Old Street, following a rebrand, I jumped at the opportunity.
Neither of us really knew what to expect from this place, but our extensive walk from Farringdon gave us ample time to muse this over. Needless to say, our expectations were completely different to how it actually turned out.
Located near Old Street station, just off the City Road, which links Old Street and Angel, the Three Crowns has a unique appearance. The exterior has kept what seems to be the original facade, but inside seems like a completely different pub. Greeting you as you walk in is a huge bar, with a wide range of beers and ales available, as well as various wines and spirits, accompanied by a sizable cocktail list. As you continue further in, you find the seating area, the kitchen bar, where you can watch the chefs plying their trade, and a DJ booth, which may have been temporary for our benefit.
What struck me about the Three Crowns is the appearance of the venue itself. Despite being long and narrow, with a few hidden corners, lighting is not an issue inside the Three Crowns, thanks to a combination of a range of lights and large windows throughout, meaning that it wasn’t too hot inside regardless of it being a late July evening. Also, the artwork on the wall was striking, and thought-provoking, without being a focal point. Most of the art was what someone who isn’t versed in the intricate details of the art world, such as myself, would describe as ‘pop art’, but I’m sure someone who knows more about that than myself would tell you completely different.
The first thing that we did when we arrived was taste the wine, naturally. I’m not a wine connoisseur in the slightest, so I could not begin to describe the earthen flamboyant taste with hints of oak, but the wine we tried, a deep Merlot and a fruity House Red, was decent tasting, and complemented the food well.
Now, the afore-mentioned food. Before we started eating, Jack and I had a discussion for a couple of minutes about whether the food located on the kitchen bar was real or not. I thought it looked far too decorative, and that the bread, fruit, and other assorted foods looked far too plastic to be real. He disagreed, and it was only with the help of a chef that we ascertained that I was wrong, and that the food was indeed real. Armed with this knowledge, Jack helped himself to some nectarines, which he confirmed were quite delicious.
Whilst we did not get to sample the actual set menu, there was a huge array of hors d’oeuvre and finger food available, and all of it was very nice, if some were not to my tastes. The problem with hors d’oeuvre are that most consist of bread, which Jack doesn’t eat, as regular readers will attest, and fish, which isn’t my favourite food, but we had agreed to try one of everything we could, which lead to some interesting choices, to say the least.
Most of what we tried divided us in terms of whether we liked it or not; I liked the pate, Jack was a fan of the terrine, I liked the pastries, he had more nectarines. Something we both agreed on was the kebabs though. There were various choices available, meat which was both chicken and lamb I believe, and what looked and tasted like kidney. Whilst neither of us liked offal to begin with, or so we thought, once we tried one or two of those kebabs, we began to wonder what we had been missing all these years. All in all, the food available was of the highest order, especially when the dessert came out, and hand-made chocolate brownies were available, topped with almonds and covered in chocolate sauce. Suffice to say, far too many of those were consumed.
With regards the food on offer, the cuisine itself has three different menus, whether you want breakfast, lunch or dinner. Breakfast ranges from ‘A Full Crown’ (an eclectic take on a full English breakfast) to porridge and granola, with unique offerings including eggs ‘Burji’ (spicy Indian style scrambled eggs), kipped and a poached egg and black pudding with a fried duck egg, with various coffees and teas available.
Lunch has two set menus, either two or three courses, both of which are very competitively priced, and various offerings include Vichyssoise, the afore-mentioned terrine, made from rabbit and prune, assorted seafood including roll mops, mussels, cod and mackerel, meats including cold pork and a roast beef sandwich, and desserts include brownie, tart and a creme brulee.
Dinner is where the Three Crowns comes into its own, with most of the lunch menu available, as well as cured sea trout with cucumber, lambs’ sweetbreads complemented by a wide-ranging salad, marinated chicken and an omlet steak with chips which sounds delicious, as well as vegetarian offerings. Dessert is similar to the lunch menu, with cheese plates also available.
All in all, the Three Crowns is a pub-cum-bar full of surprises, from the contrast with the exterior and interior, through to the wide-ranging selection of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and the food menu which offers not only a vast array of foods, but also various different cuisines. The staff are friendly and cheerful, the decor is inviting and the place has an all-round good vibe to it.