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Friday, 18 January 2013

The Longroom, Clerkenwell


It must have taken them all of 5 seconds to come up with the name, but 'The Longroom' succintly sums up this new Smithfield pub. All sepia tone butch wood and tiles, its  Victorian warehouse vibe would work well as a location for a Whitechapel-esque whodunnit. Marooned in acres of space, the only punter in the place on a Sunday afternoon, I'd be spooked if the bartender were the spit of Jack The Ripper or Sweeney Todd. Reassuringly, the closest fictional reference I have for the small friendly Spanish chappie behind the counter is Manuel from Fawlty Towers. I can almost see the 'Que?" thought bubble form, cartoon comic book-like above his head, when I ask for a Virgin Mary - a January de-tox  must.  After a protracted pasa doble that is going nowhere, I finally seize the bull by the horns, suggesting I make the bloody thing myself. Smithfield's meat market (plus a quick raid on Gail's Bakery) is the larder for the principal ingredients of a terse menu's mainstay, salt beef on sourdough. Moist, tender, flaky, if slightly overpriced at £7.50, it's better than beer rarebit - more of an upmarket cheese toastie, of the sort whipped up by posh pished students around midnight. Soups - tomato or leek and potato- are similarly prosaic. No; the real stars here are the beers. Draughts include Meantime’s Yakima Red and ruby rich Highlands hottie, Black Isle Organic Porter. There's an interesting range of bottled brews  - Red Church Hackney Gold and Orchard Pig Charmer cider - and decent enough wines at won't-break-the-bank prices. Would I go back? If I lived or worked locally, yes...whenever I felt a sudden urge for a salt beef or Rubens sandwich. Having existed entirely on those - or pastrami offcuts when I was down to my last dollar as a sofa-surfing youth, living in squalor opposite Katz's Deli in Manhattan's then filthy-funky East Village, let me tell you; such occasions are few and far between.  

18- 20 John Street EC1M 7336 6099 www.thelongroompub.com