The Drapers Arms 22

44 Barnsbury Street , London, N1 1ER

Drapers Arms

SquareMeal Review of The Drapers Arms

It may look gentrified, but The Drapers Arms is a lively place, with the ground-floor bar humming like a good ’un when the locals flock in. The Georgian building’s fine features have been left well alone, which makes for spaces of generous proportions and classic design. To drink, there are real ales at the bar and a wine list offering glass and carafe options. Head upstairs to the serene dining room to escape the hubbub (assuming it’s not booked for a private party). A patio garden provides another alternative in summer. The kitchen satisfies with its mix of modern comfort food, such as the house cheeseburger, but is equally happy knocking up duck breast with roasted black plums, or packing guinea fowl, bacon and mushrooms into a pie. To finish, gingerbread pudding competes with Neal’s Yard Dairy cheeses with crab apple jelly (is it OK to have both?).


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5.6

Food & Drink: 5.3

Service: 5.6

Atmosphere: 6.0

Value: 5.7

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Peter P. 28 November 2016

Booked meal for 5 on a Sunday and the table was free when we arrived. The pub was packed and for good reason, the cooking was top level gastropub grub,wine priced sensibly and service friendly and efficient. Welcoming atmosphere on a cold winters evening. We shall return.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Amy M. platinum reviewer 29 June 2015

A gastropub is somewhere I would never go for a client lunch as a rule of thumb. But I went to Taste of London festival and loved the food we tried, so much in fact, my dad and I went back twice! So it was to my dismay that they are based round the back of Angel, an area I never get to, but providence intervened and put a client right there! As they have a lovely garden out the back, completely walled in from traffic and a wonderful sun trap, it was too good an opportunity not to go. I can happily say that they lived up to the Taste of London showing. The food is not overly complicated but the execution is lovely and packs a flavourful punch. My fried quail wasn't oily or overcooked, my client's sprats were juicy and fresh and my colleagues cow's curd & strawberry salad was summer on a plate. The main courses didn't disappoint and with unusual choices available - calves' liver, oxtail - provided a treat. We sat for 5 hours slowly eating and drinking our way through the afternoon, with lovely unobstrusive but not elusive service. Thoroughly recommend it.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Rosie T. 17 February 2014

I was a little nervous after hearing some pretty poor reviews, but my second visit to the Draper's Arms was again excellent – lovely menu, the cod chowder I had was excellent and their bread was properly special. Really nice wine list with plenty of carafe options as well as bottles. The other half, who was being treated, was very happy with his duck and toulouse sausage bean cassoulet. Plus, the service and atmosphere was great, and it has to be one of the pretty pubs around. Overall, a winning evening.

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 2.0

Alice K. 21 October 2013

I've never had such an appalling experience at a restaurant than I did on Saturday evening at the Drapers Arms. Not sure where to begin. We made a group booking of 26 people for my sister's birthday. The starters arrived, which was, putting it simply, bowls of ham salad and mussels. However, this created confusion as we agreed on 2 courses for £27, (either starter and main or main and pudding) so we assumed that it was just starters and mains from now on, with no pudding. The host spoke to the manageress and asked about this, to get a defensive response, blaming the customer, rather than apologising and coming to some sort of compromise or at least appearing genuinely sorry. Instead, we were now told it was £35 each minus service charge and alcohol. The manageress made no attempt to correct the host or clarify the menu choice and instead left it to spring this on us half way through the meal. She was happy to mislead us and take more money despite requesting the 2 course set meal for £27 days before. Not surprisingly, with friends on a budget, and such a patronising and rude response from the manager, the host and birthday girl got very upset. This then lead to the next stage, of which I am utterly flabbergasted I am even about to write… The host's partner then went to confront the manager's behaviour, to then be accused of being on cocaine by loudly asking ‘are you on cocaine sir!?’ in front of the entire table and other customers… (just for the record she couldn't have been more wrong!!) If you ask me, this says more about her than anything else! Utterly shameful. I was absolutely speechless when I overheard this, as were others. After a shouting-match in the restaurant between the manageress and her customer, putting her hand over her face in exasperation demonstrating her antagonistic attitude, when we got the bill, she informed us that we were going to get a discount, but she's now taken it off' – similarly to her fellow manager's comment saying he was going to apologise, but he isn't going to – all of a sudden blaming the people that are about to pay their salary!! Absolutely disgusting customer service. So the bill came to £1132 (inc. alcohol) with the 12.5% service charge taken off (as we stated we weren't going to pay service charge by this point). However, with the information that the manageress accused one of our party of being on cocaine, the bill was suddenly reduced to £810, reflecting the original price agreed of £27 per head for the food. We couldn't pay the bill and leave fast enough. The whole evening was ruined and every member of our party was upset and just in shock at the staffs' behaviour. They really need to reconsider their staff and send them all, including the managers, on a customer service training course at the very least. With regard to the food itself, it was not worth the price or the hype. Certain dishes, such as the chicken pie, were lovely, however, we were given stone cold plates. The shared platter of pork belly was barely warm the time it arrived on our table. So we were soon eating cold meat effectively. The thinly sliced potatoes were watery and tasteless. Wish I'd taken pictures of each dish to prove my point! By this stage, however, it wasn't worth the hassle of complaining, as we would only be blamed somehow! The pudding, which we said we did not want once we discovered they were going to charge us extra, was definitely not worth the initial argument. The bread and butter pudding was watery and the meringue with hazelnuts and chocolate sauce was something a 5 year old could come up with. Nothing special nor worth the extra £8 per head!! Never ever going back and advise everyone to STAY AWAY and don't waste your money on such appalling customer service!!

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 0.0

James S. 26 August 2012

I went to the Drapers go a quiet drink and had read that the owner's mother was a food critic. That is where it ended. It was rowdy not quiet, the drinks were expensive, the service unprofessional. What a shame for such a nice setting. I have been to worse pubs, but only once. We went to the Albion around the corner which was much better.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Emyr T. silver reviewer 06 May 2010

Re-launched in 2008 under the direction of Ben Maschler, the son of the Evening Standard’s restaurant critic, Fay, The Drapers Arms has been lovingly restored to its former glory. While the upstairs dining room can feel a little cold, downstairs it is bustling and welcoming. The Drapers Arms was awarded a Bib Gourmand in the 2010 Michelin Guide.

Food & Drink: 0.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

Suzy E. 13 April 2010

I have been to the Drapers Arms twice and both times I have loved the atmosphere, the food however, is a different matter. Whilst edible, it was tasteless and given little thought. Because they are sourcing locally, doing the organic thing etc, does this mean that taste and other elements of creating a good dish are forgotten? The last time I went I had lamb, that was so tough I eventually relented as my hand hurt trying to saw through it. I will not give up on this gastropub as I like its ambience, but I will be steering clear of the food.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Suzy B. 13 July 2009

We went to Drapers Arms last night with an expectation of great food and a happy night out. I am sorry to say that none of this happened. It wasn't particularly busy and we switched table a couple of times. The first table was wobbely so we found another table that wasn't. Unfortunately the chairs were wobbely here, so we settled down at a third table and were pleased that everything was stabil here. My husband went to the bar to get the menu and asked if we should order there, but the owner said that “someone” would come down to our table. It took quite a while (and the owner went out for a fag) before a waiter came down to take our orders. Unfortunately the crab was sold out, but one of us settled for smoked mackerel followed by braised lamb breast, fennel, peas and aioli and the girls decided on suckling pig, a side of salad and 3 bitburger pints to go with it. After another 10 minutes the beer arrived and they were good. The mackerel arrived after a loooong wait and suddenly the waiter came to inform that unfortunately there was no more suckling pig. Errrhm okay, we had another look at the menu and decided to go for another braised lamb and guinea fowl, bacon, mushrooms and lentils. Then we waited some more but it gave us some time to look at the interior decorations of the pub and we all liked the style and also the garden, which would be lovely to sit in on a sunny day or warm night. We also had time to watch the staff running around very confused with food looking for the right tables. We needed more beer and the waiter knew that we had sat for a long time so the next drinks were on the house. The food finally arrived and I can't say we were overwhelmed. The £3.50 side order of salad was brown and quite sad to be honest. The guinea fowl was looking quite similar to the salad but was tasty after all. My husband and I had the lamb and it was full of fat and sinews and only a third of the meat was eatable. The aioli was missing. After a short discussion whether we should have dessert or not, we decided that the staff already knew that we had waited unnecessarily long for our main courses so they would probably be more alert. We decided to go for it and we didn't have to wait long. None of us were especially thrilled. Everyone can put a bit of fruit in a bowl and serve a scoop of ice cream with it. During our desserts we overheard a couple at another table, who was having starters already when we sat down at our table and they hadn't had their main course yet. The staff had forgotten to tell them that their main orders was sold out and hadn't passed the message on to the guests. Blimey! We had the bill, the salad was taken off and the gesture of 3 free pints was nice. After all the beer was good and if we ever come back the Bitburger Beer will probably be the only thing we order.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Clare S. 23 June 2009

Problem is lack of traditional choices – eg no chicken or beef or other standardish fare. All slightly too exotic showing chef's heritage of St John's restaurant – lots of offal.

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