ECO EATERY: Duke of Cambridge

This review was originally written for the Londonist.

The UK’s first and only certified organic pub, The Duke of Cambridge had to feature in our eco eating series at some point.  Obsessively local and seasonal, everything on sale – from the Marine Conservation Society approved fish to the organic tampons in the ladies’ – has been carefully chosen.

Eco messages creep onto the chalk boards, and it would be hard to visit without realising that this gastropub sees itself as sustainable eating and drinking pioneer, but strict beliefs aren’t pushed down the punter’s throat.

The Duke is somewhere that manages to suit the casual drinker and the more formal diner equally well.  The low lit bar area is filled with solid wooden tables that can hold big groups and encourage sharing.  The more intimate dining room, with crispy dressed tables, is tucked around the corner.

It’s a pub where we’ve sunk many a potent pint of ale, but this was our first lunchtime visit.  Not cheap, it seemed like a good place for a slightly indulgent, and even a little bit festive, daytime eco eat. Our first impression was that the menu seemed very meaty.  Lunchtime offerings included a pig’s head terrine, which made the vegetarians blush.

We opted for a pint of toothsome Luscombe cider (on draft) and a big bowl of cream of leek and mushroom soup.  The cider was tangy and tasted of apple skins.  The soup was thick and rich, served  with freshly baked bread that was still warm from the oven.  Dominated by mushrooms and cream, we rather mourned the elusive leek, but enjoyed it never-the-less.  The portion was certainly generous, but at £6.50 it had to be.  It was the most expensive bowl of soup we’ve lunched on this year but it did taste suitably luxurious.

It seems a little odd to mention it but our trip downstairs to the toilet was enlightening.  A rack of homemade pickles and preserves sat in the corridor.  Huge jars of piccalilli and pickled eggs looked wonderful in the gloomy half light.  A notice board was pinned with local flyers and chalk boards explained the pub’s sourcing policy, as well as what’s in season at this time of year.

Open since 1998, the Duke of Cambridge is an eco-eating success story.  It’s a great example of a sustainable business that’s keeping its public happy and being kind to the planet at the same time.  But it’s not just inspiring, it’s also a lovely place for a relaxing (organic) pint.

The Duke of Cambridge, 30 St Peter’s Street, N1 8JT / www.dukeorganic.co.uk

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