Published: 19 July, 2012
by TOM MOGGACH
Just between the coasts of Camden Town and Kentish Town lies a sweet spot.” Intrigued by this solitary sentence on the pub’s Twitter profile, we duly dropped anchor for lunch.
Tapping The Admiral is a new pub, nearly nine month’s old, built from the shell of a grimy old boozer. It’s tucked away in backstreets, just a minute’s walk from Kentish Town West station.
Since opening, there’s now a new chef, new menu and an award from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) for pub of the season in north London.
The beer taps offer eight cask ales, plus real ciders, draught lagers and classy spirits. The black pub cat, Porter, weaves between customers’ legs.
Mercifully, this is not another gastro pub, designed to a formula.
Tapping the Admiral is a welcoming community pub with few airs and graces.
Prices are low: they serve a swift five quid lunch on weekdays; everyday main courses hover well below £10.
The pies, I’d heard, were a star attraction.
The last pie I ate was a travesty. Served in a provincial pub, it was a puddle of chicken chunks in gloopy white sauce. The “pie” bit was an oblong of puff pastry, smaller than a playing card. It was no pie at all.
Thankfully, Tapping the Admiral has got it sussed. Chef Nick Evans has with firm opinions on the subject: “If you can’t pick it up, it’s not a pie.” Quite.
I chose a chicken and bacon, £8.50. The pie itself is served majestically high on the plate, positioned on a disc of mash and surrounded by a moat of rich gravy.
The golden pastry was crunchy and rolled to the perfect thickness, about the depth of a pound coin. The chef apparently uses beer, not water, for his pastry.
The only snag was with the veg. The roasted onion was decent enough, but chunks of squidgy courgette and aubergine seemed out of place. I craved a bowl of peas, or perhaps banish the vegetables altogether.
If you’re not in pie mood, there’s ample distraction.
My companion rated her special of salmon, marinated in a zingy combo of lime, ginger and chilli.
There are salads, grilled chicken and burgers. With fish and chips, you can even choose your own ale for the batter.
For drinks, we asked for tasters of several ales, all in good nick, before picking an Indian pale from Windsor & Eton Brewery, unusually dark in colour from added roasted malt.
Tapping The Admiral is a great pub, forging a well-deserved reputation for fine ale, honest food and a rowdy Wednesday quiz night.
On Sundays, it’s roasts and newspapers; Monday and Tuesday nights bring a £10 deal for a pie and a pint.
Their best asset, however, is the tight and friendly crew that work there. It’s clear that they care about the place and draw in a crowd of all sorts, united by a love of simple pleasures – conversation, good drink and proper pies.
Summary: Fine ale and honest food, priced at £10 for a pie and a pint
Tapping the Admiral
77 Castle Road, NW1 8SU
020 7267 6118