Four Legs at The Compton Arms is a residency by hot shot kitchen duo Jamie Allan, formerly of Hill & Szrok, and Ed Mcllory, who cut this teeth working at Bao Fitzrovia. The pair have since moved into the local backstreet pub, just off Upper Street (Islington’s notorious dining stretch), for an on-going pop-up which has seen the pair revamp the menu, knocking out modern British dishes imbued with European and South Asian flavours. The seasonally changing menu proudly uses quality, local, British ingredients, with produce sourced from Keats Community Organics in Welling, south-east London. A move away from standard pub grub, the menu is awash with bar snacks (hello, smoked almonds) to sharing plates (hello, fried potatoes), to comforting, soul satisfying main dishes.
The Compton Arms has history running through its walls, with the premises historically a favourite stomping ground for poet George Orwell. Now with a new landlord, the pub reopened last Autumn with a fresh, modern look. Sister site to The Gun in Homerton, The Compton Arms still retains all the bells and whistles of a great British boozer, albeit with nicer toilets and better paint work. The cavernous space features a back dining area, while the bar lends itself to beer drinking, bar snack eating patrons, and those wishing to catch a game of football on the big screen.
Shunning the restaurant trend of adapting to customer desires for vegan options, the meat-centric menu is a carnivore’s dream. Think fried chicken sandwiches, veal parma, mussels bathed in bacon bits, and pork skewers. If it’s animal flesh you’re after, you’ve certainly come to the right place. We began our recent dinner with hunks of bread from E5 Bakehouse (£3) slathered with a rich, salty butter – a splendid dinner aperitif – before moving onto the pork belly skewers (£8) with a glistening golden skin coated in a puddle of sticky, sweet sauce. A rift on Japan’s well loved yakitori, the glossy pork belly was nicely charred with a beautiful charcoal flavour.
The potatoes (£4), fried in beef fat and served with a pungent garlic aioli, were fistful-sized and pleasingly crispy. With a crunchy exterior and a gloriously sweet, soft interior, they withstood the multiple aioli dunking. Elsewhere on the menu, the Dexter cheeseburger (£10.50) was sensational. With a robust patty stuffed inside a toasted, glossy brioche bun embellished with a handful of pickles and covered with finely chopped onions and a duvet of molten cheese. This beefy creation is arguably one of the best burgers in London right now. The smoked tomatoes (£9) served with a drizzle of oil and salt was a masterclass in simple flavours, and another highlight from the concise, well-constructed menu.
Four Legs have found their footing at The Compton Arms with their uncomplicated and confident cooking. Another welcome addition to Islington’s growing restaurant portfolio.
Four Legs at The Compton Arms can be found at 4 Compton Avenue, London, N1 2XD
With confident, uncomplicated cooking, Four Legs’ is a welcome addition to Islington’s growing restaurant portfolio.