Bar Review: The Elephant’s Head, Camden

The Elephant’s Head – Victorian Camden

Camden Town, the simulacrum of whatever it used to be or thought it was. This one-time home of John Lennon, Charles Dickens and Sir Ambrose Fleming, saw a heroin-chic renascence in the early naughties. The skinny-limbed antics of Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty preceded Noel Fielding and Russell Brand entertaining audiences by competing to have the silliest hair. Today, Camden’s biggest export is Dappy from N-Dubz. Camden falls over itself screaming how alternative it is while trying as hard as possible not to care, as carefully as possible. Camden is a hangout for biker gangs without motorbikes, the worst cocaine in Europe, and enjoys a working-class brashness despite one bedroom flats renting at £3,000 a month.

The Elephant’s Head was a scruffy, characterful pub full of scruffy characters, the kind that makes the past-time of London boozing a uniquely British pleasure. I love dark Victorian London Pubs; I like to imagine Jack the Ripper sitting at the bar, nursing a pint of mild, fiddling with a Soduku. The Elephant’s Head dates to 1832, being once part of the famous Camden Town Brewery, producers of ‘Elephant Ale’ in the 1800’s. Feeling like Julian Barrat in Nathan Barley, I sought refuge in something genuine – something with more purpose and age than me – away from the surrounding nonsense. The classic checkered floor, dark wooden bar and low ceilings filled me with hope.

The pub was teaming with leather clad punters, holding what I assumed was a piercing convention. The standard issue Full English and a pint of bitter both did the job and weren’t unreasonably priced, given the fiscal hell-hole that is Zone 1. Unfortunately, members of The Elephant’s Head staff were the sourest, patronising and most abrasive as I’ve come across.

The Elephant’s Head Review Summary

Atmosphere 6/10    Cost 6/10    Quality 5/10    Service 1/10

Elephants Head Camden Pub Review

Camden Street Artist (Of Sorts)

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Restaurant Review: Iberica, Manchester

Iberica Manchester – Tip Top Tapas

I loved Iberica Spinningfields. It pleasingly served dishes separately but rapidly, and in big enough portions to actually share. Iberica Manchester was social eating at its best, something that surprisingly few other Tapas restaurants deliver on.

Iberica Spinningfields didn’t just offer the same chorizo, gambas, calamari, patatas bravas lead menu found everywhere. I love these dishes, but Iberica Spinningfields made a refreshing change. I went weak at the knees laying eyes on their artisan cheese menu; being exclusively Spanish it provided the opportunity to discover new products and flavours.

The Red Berry Gazpacho was the finest cold soup I’d ever eaten. It was alive with vibrancy and just wonderfully summery. I’d never had a more flavoursome dish for £4. The humble Bread & Oil was as good as anywhere. The grilled Padron Peppers were pleasingly salty and made a classy beer accompaniment. The curious Spring Onion Tempura were bronzed crunchy phallic mouthfuls, served with decidedly delicious dips. The Classic Tortilla didn’t let its nation down, providing a perfectly respectable account of itself.

The meaty Sea Trout was lightly cooked and uniquely served with peanuts and Ajo Blanco sauce. The dish was certainly enjoyable, but quite expensive at £8. The Chorizo Lollipops were golden balls of fun, served with an intriguing pear aioli. In the wake of these quirky touches, came the poshest Ham, Egg & Chips in Manchester. The Sliced Cooked Beef was Spain’s answer to Bresaola and every bit as flavourful.

The Churros were piping hot, pleasingly crispy and sugary pieces of happiness. The small but perfectly formed cheese board paired marvellously with the amber-hued viscous sherry. I don’t know anything about sherry, other than that I need to drink more of it.

With the drinks menu heavily marked up and the additional 12.5% service charge, Iberica Spinningfields is at the pricier end of Manchester’s bustling restaurant scene. Given the exciting menu, quality ingredients, sophisticated atmosphere and charming staff, it is still certainly worth exploring.

Iberica Review Summary

Atmosphere 10/10    Cost 6/10    Quality 10/10    Service 9/10

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review

A decent drop…

Ibérica Spinningfields

Bread & Oil

Ibérica Spinningfields

Outstanding Red Berry Gazpacho

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Padron Peppers

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Spring Onion Tempura

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Sea Trout, Ajoblanca & Pitu Sauce

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Fried Chorizo Lollipops w/ Pear Alioli

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Iberico Ham, Egg & Chips

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Sliced Cooked Beef

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Churros

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Cheese

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