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No beef about the pork at Mirey’s at The Charles Lamb

Don’t miss the boat while Mirey’s pop-up French restaurant is at an Angel pub

06 April, 2017 — By Tom Moggach

Main attraction: Pork belly with peas ‘à la francaise’

If the chemistry is right, a pub pop-up can be a smart move for an ambitious chef. Gerald Mirey has taken temporary control of the kitchens at The Charles Lamb pub in Islington, not far from Angel tube.

This partnership is a match made in heaven: a brilliant boozer paired with his accomplished French cooking. “Gerald has so much passion,” raves a barman, clearly invigorated by this injection of fresh energy into his workplace.

Mirey’s Restaurant has been in the road since the end of last year, previously popping up at The Cuckoo pub in Hemingford Road. Mirey is a classically trained French chef working alongside supper club maestro Ko Ito. Steak tartare, cassoulet and crème brûlée all star on their short menu when we visit. But don’t be fooled – there are plenty of clever twists to keep diners on their toes.

If you’ve never visited The Charles Lamb, it’s a splendid and much-loved neighbourhood pub – not too posh, not too scruffy. It’s named after an essayist and poet who lived nearby, described on their blackboard as “a pre-Victoria sugar daddy, distributing kisses and kindliness”.

The main room is all wood and warm lighting. Young staff pull pints of frothy ale. Expect good banter, piles of board games and winning bar snacks such as macaroni and cheese or chips with a Bloody Mary dip.

Mirey’s restaurant occupies the side room, a cosy space seating around 18. We find daffodils on our table, maps of vineyards on the walls and a large ceramic rooster gazing down from a shelf above our heads. The atmosphere is laid back. We even helped ourself to seconds of sourdough baguette, carving huge hunks from the stash on the sideboard.

We started with steak tartare and a velvety, emerald soup blitzed from wild garlic and nettles. The steak tartare was a clever creation – the hand-chopped Charolais beef mixed with edamame beans then sprinkled with black sesame and crowned with a quail’s egg.

Mains include duck with lentils, pork belly with peas “à la francaise” and a spelt risotto with squash, goat’s curd and sage. My friend chose the fish, a comforting fillet of smoked haddock with whipped mashed potatoes and a rich lemon beurre blanc. My cassoulet was well constructed but heavy on the salt, with firm beans, tender pork, a plump sausage and smattering of bread crumbs.

To finish, a bread and butter pudding with English custard was spot on in a setting like this.

Prices hover around £7 for starters and £15 for mains – so no quibbles there for cooking of this quality.

I particularly enjoyed the enthusiasm of the pub staff as they served the tables. Mirey’s will move on. So visit in the next month or two before you miss the boat.

• Mireys Restaurant, The Charles Lamb, 6 Elia Street, N1,020 7837 5040, www.mireysrestaurant.com, www.thecharleslambpub.com, info@mireysrestaurant.com

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