The Three Crowns, at the end of Church Street, on the corner with the High Street, has been a fixture of Stoke Newington for as long as I can remember. It’s been through various incarnations including a Latin American Restaurant, but it’s now back to what it does best – good pub food with regular live music.
I learn, in fact that it’s been here since the 1600s when it was the Cock and Harp, but later renamed in honour of King James I, with the Three Crowns representing England, Scotland & Ireland. It’s now been re-opened in its full glory with food and drinks fit for both kings and humble peasants alike.
It’s a big space with one end the dining room and the other the bar area. This space also hosts seasoned jazz musicians for weekly jazz lunch events every Saturday afternoon. They also have DJs playing disco, funk, soul and worldwide grooves until 2.30am every Friday & Saturday, although perhaps they hadn’t started when we ate there. Downstairs is The Waiting Room, a gig venue with the best in live world music.
But we’re here for the food and they offer a mercifully small modern British menu with the focus on locally-sourced and seasonal produce, prepared by head chef Ousmane Gaye. Outside on Church Street everybody is drinking and eating outside, but the restaurant here is surprisingly quiet. The waitress explains that the lack of both a garden and a terrace means they lose out when it’s a sweltering evening.
Still, the air conditioning keeps the temperature pleasantly comfortable and I order a glass of white Grillo from Sicily while my companion goes for the non-alcoholic Three Crowns’ Punch. She likes the refreshing combination of Pineapple Juice, Blood Orange Syrup, Lime Juice and Lemonade, just right for the summer.
Before we get on to the starters we can’t resist ordering what’s listed on the menu as Pork Belly Chips. In fact what arrives is a large bowl of deep fried pork belly pieces served with a tangy apple and mustard sauce. Perfect for sharing, my only criticism is that there could be more of the wonderful sauce but the meat is spot-on.
For starters I go for the Beef Salad Carpaccio Style with Chimichurri, Rocket and Capers. It’s a large serving of beef, rare rather than completely raw, and complemented by the well-dressed capers and rocket. My companion opts for the Chorizo Scotch Egg, with Tarragon Aioli, in two halves with delightfully runny yolks. It’s a triumph, with the chorizo adding a hefty dose of salt.
For mains, it’s hard to resist the Barnsley Chop, tonight’s special, a throwback to menus from the 70’s and 80’s. This double lamb chop is cooked exactly as I like it, rare yet tender, and comes with crushed potatoes and tender stem broccoli. It’s a man sized portion but gender isn’t going to get in the way of my appetite.
My companion is of a milder disposition so she goes for the Smoked Haddock Fish Cake with Tartare Sauce, Tender Stem Broccoli, Samphire and Tomato Salad. It’s also on the large side and she makes an error of ordering Potato Salad on the side. Of course she can’t finish it and I’m in no condition to help her.
And so to deserts – they specialise in ice cream here which leaves my companion spoilt for choice. She’s limited to two so goes for Madagascan Vanilla and Gingerbread. I’m playing safe and going for Homemade Sticky Date Pudding, Toffee Sauce and Salted Caramel Ice Cream. It’s a good choice, again a robust portion and a substantial portion of the ice cream lands on my friend’s plate.
During our meal, we were been joined by other diners but the place was not at all full. That’s a shame because the food is of consistently high quality, service is unobtrusive yet efficient and prices are reasonable. It’s also a pleasant airy space, with glass on all sides, and tables spaced for comfort.
Verdict: The Three Crowns is definitely a place to watch and, since it’s one of my locals, I’ll certainly be back.
175 Stoke Newington High Street
London N16 0LH
020 7241 5511