The Wilmington in Islington returns to its former glory

Cosy dining makes a comeback just in time for this legendary venue to reveal its new look

Imagine my delight at getting invited back to my pub of choice from my student days. That might be a bad start to paint the scene. If I said we were relatively boujee students with full time jobs, living in a terraced three bedroom in Angel – I feel that paints The Wilmington better.

My student days were spent with endless ponders to City University, foodie exploration in the wonderful Exmouth Market, superb pub grub in the Wilmington and, often, a nightcap at local’s favourite, Old China Hand. Those were the days.

When I received the press invite, saying The Wilmington had been restored to its former glory, intrigued was an understatement. What had changed? Why change a good thing in the first place?

A stylish refurbishment was the opener with a gorgeous dimglow, golden accents and a stylish semi-open kitchen. The pub is cosy and vast, giving off the ‘village pub’ vibe, but its packed nature and fancily dressed Friday crowd still screams central London. I can imagine the Sunday Roast is unbeatable and I can confirm from a quick look at the menu, reasonably priced.

Enough about Sunday lunch, we were there for Friday dinner. A big part of the ‘refresh’ was the introduction of a brand newHead Chef Jamie Cousins. Cousins delivers an ever-evolving menu of globally influenced dishes that celebrate the best of British ingredients as well as some very exciting specials. The idea is to celebrate the art of sharing family style.

We took a seat next to the buzzy kitchen where you get glimpses of chef whites, and opted for a cocktail to start. The menu is a range of classics and whilst there was no dirty martini (a travesty), I opted instead for a French Martini which was light, fragrant and perfectly mixed.

For starters, myself and my guest decided on the soup of the day which was a Bloody Mary-Style Gazpacho, and a special of Giant Prawns with a Lobster Butter. The soup was super fresh with chopped small pieces of cucumber, tomato and onion, and a subtle hint of spice. The prawns were in fact, giant – and delicious also.

Next up were the mains. Given it was a chilly night and a cosy space, I chose the Rabbit, Medeira, Bacon & Leek Pie withglazed carrots and, naturally, a side of dauphinoise which were served with a flourish, bubbling due to its volcanic-level temperature. All dishes were rich, well seasoned and large in portion-size – come hungry. For my guest she opted for a vegetarian-based dish with sausage, of which they were more than happy to make fully veggie at request – the Hake with Cider, Peas, Cavolo Nero, Tarragon and Pommes Anna.

Portion sizes were huge, and dishes were tasty, so there was no room for dessert on this occasion. What struck us the most was how friendly, attentive and knowledgeable the team members were – taking their time to walk us through the menu and efficiently answer any questions or queries we had. Nothing was too much to ask.

Alongside its A La Carte menu, The Wilmington also has a generous selection of tasty bar snacks, starters, and desserts, as well as tempting specials. The venue is open daily for brunch, lunch and dinner and famed for its Sunday Roast. With multiple dining spaces, including private dining rooms, and a welcoming and friendly appeal, it would be the ideal spot to host a Christmas party this year – if it’s not too early to say so!

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69 Rosebery Avenue
Greater London
United Kingdom

Written by Kara Buffrey