* Prices may differ from that shown
The Railway Tavern is a small pub located on a remote back street in Dalston (although technically Islington) in the East End of London. The pub is newly refurbished having previously been quite a dingy 'old mans' man. It has been re-skinned to become an elegant gastro pub with quirky flourishes.
The pub itself is quite small with probably 10 or so tables. Tables are all wooden and have a slightly aged 'shabby chic' appeal. Seating is eclectic from wooden chairs and stools to upholstered seating with London Underground seat fabric as the covering. This begins the railway theme as the pub is adorned with similar railway paraphernalia as well as a few well-chosen vintage film posters. The bar itself is a classic wood paneled bar of decent length and obligatory high stools for those that like to prop it up. In the corner sits a fireplace and a few cozy chairs so you can while away the winter evenings in comfort too. It is on the whole very smartly decorated with a classic and largely timeless feel.
The bar itself is equip with an interesting array of unique and unusual beers on draft from an excellent IPA through to a surprisingly light and refreshing stout. None were brands I had heard of before (although no doubt will be familiar to connoisseurs) so you need to be brave to dip into the unknown. From our experience though, there is something for everyone so you won't be disappointed. We didn't drink wine but the list looked equally impressive. In addition they serve the usual array of spirits, mixers, etc....
It seemed like a lovely place for a drink but you can eat there too. We went on a Sunday where disappointingly, and like so many other London pubs, only roasts were available. We needn't have been disappointed though because their Sunday Roast was excellent. It took a reassuringly long time to come (20-25 minutes) because 'the Yorkshire Puddings weren't rising'. When it did arrive it had the hallmarks of a largely freshly prepared meal rather than the usual micro waved meal ready in 5 minutes. The portions were hearty and filling. I ordered pork but others had the beef and nut roast and reports were equally full of superlatives. The pork was tender and succulent - not too dry as often can be the case. The vegetables were not over cooked and almost al dente. The roast potatoes were gloriously crispy and the Yorkshire pudding we waited for was worth it: large, light and airy.
The other great thing was the value for money. What this pub does is a sliding scale on the price where the more you order, the less you pay per head. I think one roast was about £12 but if you ordered 2 it was £20 for both, and so on. There were 5 of us so ended up with a roast each at about £7 per head which was incredibly good value given the size and quality of the meal. Drinks were more standardized with a pint coming in over £3.
Service here couldn't have been friendlier either. We had booked a table and were greeted in a breezy, relaxed and friendly manner by the staff. They asked how our day was and joked with us about the Yorkshires and size of the potion. We were asked whether everything was ok with our meal but not after 2 minutes of it arriving which tends to be the standard.
The pub felt very newly decorated but had an old charm it. As such it was immaculate and clean throughout. All fixtures and fittings were new or newly refurbished, the walls had been recently painted and bar surface clear and clean. Our plates and glasses were also cleared very quickly and efficiency.
There isn't really much to grumble about here. I suppose if you want familiar drinks you'll be disappointed. Lagers tended to be unusual German imports rather than the standard Fosters or Carling. In my book, this is a very good thing, but others may disagree. The other slight issue would be that with only 10 tables it will fill up quickly. You'll need to be lucky to get a table without booking (it filled to capacity while we were there) so would suggest booking is highly recommended.
I should point out that on a weekday they apparently serve Thai food. We went on a Sunday so only roasts were available so can't comment on the quality of it, but if the roasts were anything to go by, it should be excellent.
In all, this is a marvelous place for a pint and a bite to eat. It's a little off the beaten track so takes some finding but it will be worth the effort.