From Angel station, a stroll towards Regent’s Canal will take you to the only pub on the water, The Narrow Boat.
On the corner of St Peter’s Street and Wharf Road, you can’t miss this well lit and windowed pub. Narrow by name and narrow by nature, the bar is slimmer than it is long – but not at all small. The bar area stretches half its length as you enter and low seats and tables edge the opposite wall. Windows look out to a balcony where small round tables and chairs are laid ready for warm days and evenings, or prepared with blankets for colder times.
Just past the bar a wooden staircase spirals down to the floor below – or lower deck as it may appear. Mirroring the floor above, the room is long and narrow. The open kitchen and bar serving area is to the left, and shelves to the back with rope brackets present various bottles of booze. High round tables with stools are perched in this area and a set of doors open out to the canal towpath. The doorstep is even set with a dog bowl and water should you stumble upon this place on an afternoon stroll with your pooch.
The other end of the room is laid-out for dining, with either round tables set for two or rectangle and square tables and booths set for groups. Another wall display of wine bottles on shelves with rope brackets are noticeable at this end and light fitments also dangle from above with knotted ropes – a pleasant nautical theme. A brick fireplace with black log fire takes the centre of the room and displays fresh wooden logs on the mantle shelf - extremely rustic and warming. A round porthole mirror on the toilet door completes the nautical look.
Cosy, casual and family-friendly; groups sit chatting comfortably in the street level bar. A small TV sits at the far end and windows look out to the canal. The deck below is light but relaxed, and the staff are helpful and accommodating. Music is a mixture of genres, including some movie soundtracks - nothing intrusive or distracting, just easy listening helping set the relaxed scene.
Presented on wooden slabs to continue the rustic, ship theme, and garnished with herbs, everything seems a little more high-end than general pub grub - everything except the prices. Menus vary slightly depending on the season but favorites will remain and specials are scrawled on a chalkboard, hung on one wall. Nodding towards its family-friendly nature there is a kid’s menu available for the little ones, and on Sundays expect the typical roast lunch.
Breadboards to share come with fresh bread and olives, sun dried tomatoes and garlic, along with a pot of olive oil with balsamic vinegar. The haddock fishcake starter (£7.50) looks big enough to be the main - a chunky, round, breaded cake topped with an egg, pepper and herbs, sat on a bed of spinach, red cabbage and dill hollandaise. The beetroot carpaccio (£5.50) is lighter, with thin slices of beetroot and honey glazed winter vegetables, topped in a zigzag fashion with goat’s cheese cream.
Mains include the obvious pub dishes but at prices just slightly higher than pub standard – what you would expect for well-heeled Angel – and with some slight adjustments; beer battered haddock comes with triple cooked chips (£11.50), the beef burger with a Bloody Mary relish (£10.50), London bangers and mash with Young’s Ale gravy (£10.50) and there’s even the chef’s homemade cottage pie (£14.50). Reaching slightly higher prices on the menu are the sea bass with herbed potatoes (£15.95), 21 day aged sirloin (£19), and duck leg confit (£16.50). Both the steak and the duck are cooked and presented beautifully on wooden slabs. The steak is soft and tender and served with triple cooked chips, water cress, Stilton, and walnut butter. The duck leg has perfectly crisped skin and comes with spiced red cabbage and rosemary new potatoes. Side orders of avocado salad, creamed root vegetables or chips are £3.50.
Desserts are difficult to choose between, from sticky toffee pudding to Bailey’s profiteroles, but the pistachio crumble and custard is not to be missed. Served in a deep, white oblong dish, but placed again on top of the wooden slab, the apple and blackberry filling is soft, hot and juicy. This is then topped with a thick layer of pistachio crumble and a pot of creamy vanilla custard to the side. And, as far as chocolate puddings go, the double chocolate stout sponge is up there with some of the best – a rich ball of chocolate sponge, sprinkled with icing sugar to decorate, a pot of vanilla custard again on the side, and a strawberry. All desserts are £6, except the selection of vanilla, chocolate or caramel ice cream (£5), and the cheeseboard (£8.50).
Wine by the glass is served as 175ml or 250ml measures and starts at £3.60/£5.05 for white or red, or a very reasonable £14.30 for the bottle. The house rose, a Cabernet Shiraz, is delicate and fruity, and perfectly chilled (£16.15). For those who fancy fizz, prices start at £4.20 for 125ml glass of Prosecco (£22 by the bottle) and range up to £6.95 for Cockburn and Campbell Champagne (£35.95 per bottle), with the most expensive on the list a Veuve Clicquot, served only by the bottle at £56.95. Craft beers, Camden beers and Cask Ales are all available at the bar from £3.40.
The Last Word
Rustic, cosy and family-friendly, this is a world away from the busy bars of Upper Street. Great food and smiling staff make you feel right at home.