A minute or two from City Road, you'll find the lovely Eagle. Get yourself some mac and cheese and pop goes the weasel.
You'll find The Eagle just a couple of minutes' walk from Old Street's Silicon Roundabout which, despite the vaguely depressing and clinical name, is a creative hub for designers and web-based companies. You know the types - cool techy folk who like being within spitting distance of Shoreditch and Spitalfields. Considering the geography, the area surrounding Old Street station is pretty disappointing and lacking in soul. Enter The Eagle, a cosy, hip oasis in a sea of, well, offices.
The place is always pretty busy in the evenings, particularly on rare sunny days when the large beer garden is heaving. But the lunchtime crowd give the after work lot a run for their money; grabbing a seat at 2pm for peace and quiet may not be the best idea, since the place is already at least half full. Groups of friends and colleagues study the menu, while some are huddled over work papers. It's the usual clientele: mid-twenties to forties with lots of beards (the men) and quirky glasses (the women), but nobody's painfully 'cool'. There's a nice hum of conversation and a deliciously tempting waft of burger.
One of the first things you'll notice here is how proud the pub is of its place in nursery rhyme history. A large framed print hangs on the wall displaying the words: 'Up and down the City Road, In and Out The Eagle. That's the way the money goes, pop goes the weasel.' The building used to be a music hall back in the 1800s before being turned into a public house by the Salvation Army. The eagle-eyed (no pun intended) among you might also spot the red rabbits and weasels adorning the walls.
The food, oh boy! It's so satisfying to find an awesome pub that also serves good grub and at a fraction of restaurant prices. If you're just popping in for a quick pint, the bar snack selection offers a good choice and reminds you that, despite the rather lifeless motorway location, you're among the hipster middle classes: edemame beans (£2.50), baked Cornish brie (£4.50) and chargrilled asparagus with goat's cheese (£4.75). The daily menu offers some really tasty starters (meat board with scotch quails eggs for £14 and scallops with crushed minted peas for £6.50), even if they do sound a tad pretentious for a chilled pub like this. Mains include a delicious pork and chorizo burger (£11) and southern fried chicken with fries (£13). If you're on a budget, the terrific 'fixed price' menu offers two courses for £10, and this is where you'll find the heavenly baked mac and cheese and ridiculously moreish salted caramel and chocolate tart. Thank us later.
There's a good offering of draught beer and lager - Amstel, Red Stripe, Heineken, Peroni and Kozel, among others - and prices range from £3.70 a pint (Amstel) to £4.70 (Fruli). You'll pay £4 for a small house white wine (Chenin Blanc) or £16 for a bottle of red Zinfandel. Want to taste a few? Pop in on a Tuesday night when all the wine is reduced by 20 per cent. The drinks menu injects a bit of personality into the proceedings with a lovely 'drink pairing' list: drink the Hoegaarden Belgium with their pork and chorizo burger, or the Vidal Sauvignon Blanc with their chicken Caesar salad.
The Last Word
A lovely little place - the staff are friendly (the barmen actually ask how you are), the food's delicious and the beer garden's big enough to practically guarantee you a spot even on the most summery days. It might be down the road from a pretty dank looking roundabout but it's blooming lovely inside - give it a go and you'll be wishing you ran a fancy tech company so you could work around here, too.