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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Lexington, Islington

Despite being recently tarted-up and rouged - scarlet flock wallpaper, crystal chandeliers and steer head skulls  - this old dame still comes on like a saloon in a seen-better-days cathouse in its spiritual home - Lexington, Kentucky. At its long Rhett Butler-butch bar, choose from around 100 American ryes and small batch bourbons, many of them - George Dickel Barrel Select and Sazerac 20 for instance - rare. Whiskey-based cocktails such as Boulevardier and Red Rye, a Manhattan made with Fernet Branca, are fine at £7 but with Kentucky and the South the theme, I’d like to see the julep jump out in all its juicy variations. Otherwise, there's wine from £18, Goose Island and Anchor Steam and London crafties from the likes of Hammerton and Sambrook’s. New on a menu that includes mixed mezze, and 3 for £6 pile-em-high tacos, is a range of pies - jerk chicken and sweet potato; rabbit, bacon, mushroom and cider ; ‘vegan shepherd’s pie’ etc - served with mash. Even at full capacity, you can hear yourself speak in the main bar. ‘Screaming guitars and thumbing bass’, says the website, are restricted to the club room above; its programme aimed at musos more inclined to Iggy Pop than Simon Cowell-pop. 
96 - 98 Pentonville Road N1 9JB 837