Monday 10 October 2011

Junction Tavern beer festival and The Assembly House

The Junction Tavern is a pleasant little gastropub in leafy Kentish Town, an area which is becoming a bit of a real ale hotbed with the Southampton Arms and Pineapple in the vicinity. The Junction Tavern is primarily a gastro and doesn't really directly compete with the aforementioned establishments but they're not afraid to put on some great ales, including local brews. They also hold frequent ale festivals and I paid a visit on a chilly Friday evening with The Lovely Jemma to their latest festival. A good selection was available. The pub has five handpubs and there were an additional ten ales in a temporary area, although not all were ready.

The Hen Harrier. That's a pint
glass. TLJ has grown a lot since
the last update. The nails have
also got even more fabulous.
Things got off to a good start with a Prospect “Panned Out.” This tasty seasonal brew was a very pleasant strong bitter with a little bit of spicyness thrown in which went down well. This was followed by the Bowland “Hen Harrier” which sadly wasn't as good. Although it had a promising fruity aroma, the taste was not spectacular. The fruity, refreshing hops tried to push through but it all tasted a little flat and lifeless. The Cotleigh “Commando Hoofing” was a fairly unremarkable golden ale. It wasn't an awful drink but there wasn't much that stood out. Things finished in good form with the Empire “Kismet” a well hopped aromatic beer with a delightful fruity taste. I also asked for a taste of the “Barmans Ghoulies” by the Tirrel brewery, eliciting giggles from those waiting in line. Sadly the ale lived up to its name with a odd sweaty taste that wasn't very pleasant at all.

The Junction Tavern is a decent place for ale, but its primary business is the gastro side of things which means drinkers are a little short changed. A charming conservatory and the large, airy main room are devoted to diners, meaning drinkers are left with a rather stuffy corridor in-between the main room and conservatory. Still the atmosphere was jovial with a nice mix of punters.

After quaffing a few ales I started to get a bit peckish. The menu in the Junction looked good but expensive, and I fancied something to nibble on before I started gnawing on my own hand. There wasn't a bar food menu available and snacks are limited to bread, olives and cashews. Olives are, of course, Satan's grapes and bread might have been fine for Jesus but I needed something a bit more substantial. I guess chips aren't good enough for the well heeled gentry of Kentish Town. We therefore decided to move on to the Assembly House near Kentish Town station in the hunt for some good old fashioned pub grub.

This Greene King pub has recently been renovated and walking in I got flashbacks of The Bull in Islington. This pub seemed to have attracted every wanker, sorry, hipster in Kentish Town and there were plenty of them. A DJ was in the corner surrounded by her acne riddled friends playing what would no doubt be described as “Phat Beats.” The d├ęcor was the usual stripy wallpaper and lamps scattered everywhere that all “trendy” pubs tend to have these days. Trendy is in quotations because no genuine trendy place would ever let me in.

Despite all these factors we decided to stay, mainly because we had the good luck to find an empty table and I'm a lazy man. Five handpumps were on with the usual Greene King suspects (IPA, Abbot Ale etc) available. I opted for a pint of Bonkers Conkers, Greene Kings seasonal ale, which was fine. It's supposed to have a nutty taste but I couldn't really detect it. It was a standard strong bitter that got the job done.

It tastes better than it looks. Honestly.

The food, however, was actually rather good. We had previously been warned by a flame haired Irish lady that the food here was deep fried greasy crap, and to be honest that was exactly what I was craving. We decided to go for the Burger Plate, which was described as six mini burgers with onion rings and chips, for that is what it was. It was presented rather nicely and against all odds tasted pretty good. Pub onion rings usually tend to be as limp and soggy as an audience of men watching the Sex and the City movie but these were crispy, fluffy and tasty. The burgers were also rather good. Just when I thought the night couldn't get any better the DJ started playing Hakuna Matata from the Lion King. I might have to return to this place.

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