Finding a good spot for date night can be a challenge. Either the place is so busy it’s too loud to talk or it has no atmosphere at all. Harrild & Sons, on the site of a former printing press manufacturer, offers bags of atmosphere, a wide range of craft beers and surprisingly good food.
A decidedly Victorian feel, you’ll see copper pipes with Edison bulbs hanging from them, exposed brick and iron beams and slightly creepy Victorian pictures with skulls. Low lighting and skylights finish the effect. Arrive after work and you’ll find the upstairs is busy and full of local workers but downstairs is a different place entirely.
The downstairs is a branch of the cocktail club called 5CC. The five London branches of this cocktail club are run by Barworks who have a range of pubs across London. Far less busy than the pub upstairs, you’ll find a mix of comfortable booths and small tables lining a beautiful, full-length bar. The low (but not too dark) lighting creates an intimate atmosphere with sound levels sufficient to feel like you’re not going to be talking to the whole bar, but quiet enough to chat comfortably. They have an interesting selection of whiskey-based cocktails (and quite a few others as well) along with a small but quality wine list.
Most surprising, however, is the quality of the food. They have put some real thought into their selection of British fare with a real international twist.
The affordable starters will tempt you to stay for just one more drink. And once you try those, you’ll check out the mains on offer and be convinced to stay for the evening. And wonder why more people don’t know about this place (and sort of hope they don’t find out).
There is a selection of munchies including olives, pork crackling, spiced nuts and wasabi peas. It’s with the bar snacks where things begin to shine. These are not your average pub nibbles. From crispy chicken with Korean hot sauce to cauliflower pakoras with mango chutney and the simple but amazingly good grilled spring onions wrapped in pancetta, these dishes pack loads of flavour into a small dish at an average price of only £5.50.
There is an equally interesting selection of main dishes that average just over £12.50 each. We had the pork belly and sea bass on this occasion. The pork belly had a wonderfully crispy shell and was served with mash, charred spinach and a mustard gravy. The pork was moist and tender with the fat well rendered. The sides complimented the dish nicely.
The sea bass came with creamed mussels, puy lentils and braised fennel. The fish was well cooked and the creamed mussels added a lovely, delicate flavour to the dish. The puy lentils provide a nice added texture.
Though the food on offer was something other pubs should take notice of, it was the service that really stood out. Oliver, the host at the 5cc Club, makes this a place a night to remember. He remembered us being there before even though it had been at least six months since our last visit.
Welcoming, friendly and attentive, he helps to make this a far more special place. When Oliver heard us talking about the food and my food blog he said, “Hey, you should really chat with the chef” and brought over Craig, who was enjoying a cocktail at the bar, over to talk. We had a great time chatting with him about his background and his take on food. Harrild & Sons are lucky to have him.
So if you work near Farringdon or Blackfriars and are looking for an interesting spot for good drinks and great food, check this one out!
[Reviewed on: Wednesday, 29-Mar-2017, 18:30]