“Bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?” commented my friend. Luckily, Claire wasn’t referring to the delicious food which at that very moment we were tucking into, but to the name of the establishment in which we found ourselves upon this sunny Saturday.
And she was right: ‘Riverford at the Duke of Cambridge’ doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. That said, the Duke of Cambridge is something of an institution in Islington. Winner of numerous awards since it first opened its doors in 1998, the UK’s first organic gastropub has a fascinating history. It’s the brainchild of Geetie Singh, who grew up on a commune in the Midlands, where she was taught from an early age to be aware of the impact we each make on the world around us. Having moved to London in the 1990s to work in restaurants, Geetie soon became disillusioned with their lack of sustainability – leading her, in due course, to open the Duke of Cambridge. She, and her pub, have never looked back.
A further, exciting chapter in the pub’s history occurred when Geetie married Guy Watson, of Riverford Organic Farmers fame. You may well be familiar with the organic vegetable boxes which Riverford delivers, from its farms around the UK – a whopping 47,000 arrive on our doorstops every week, apparently.
Talk about a match made in heaven. The Duke of Cambridge is now “twinned” with Riverford’s Field Kitchen on the family farm in Devon; both pride themselves on celebrating exceptional organic cooking, using locally-sourced ingredients.
They have every right to be proud. My main course of Roasted Squash, Greens, Riso Nerone, Corn Salsa & Medita tasted absolutely divine and also gave me the satisfaction of knowing I was eating something that was indisputably good for me. It also proved that cooking does not need to be complicated, but that combining the best possible in-season ingredients with some imaginative flair will lead to something divine. Claire’s Caponata Stuffed Pepper, Warm Hummus, Greens and Tomato Salsa looked and tasted equally good; suffice to say, we cleared every single morsel from our plates. Such a joy, as well, to be presented with genuinely interesting vegetarian options. Fear not, though, meat lovers: Riverford at the Duke of Cambridge takes its organic meat every bit as seriously as it does its vegetables. Venison is a current favourite.
As for our desserts: well, all I can say is that my Dark, Milk & White Chocolate Brownie was, quite possibly, the nicest brownie I’ve ever eaten (and believe me, I’ve sampled a few). Claire plumped for the Summer Crumble, which from where I was sitting looked & smelled divine; again, our plates were cleared within moments.
All this, combined with friendly & helpful service and a bright, light & airy environment, left me feeling certain I would return. After all, seeing as the menu changes every single day, it really would be rude not to.
P.S. The organic wine was pretty good, too.