by Georgie Darling
Little known fact: in between writing Animal Farm and 1984, George Orwell wrote a treatise on ‘the perfect pub’ – and it was inspired by the Compton Arms.
So, to put it mildly, the place has a lot to live up to. But by filling their kitchen with residencies like Belly, they can’t be accused of not trying.
Belly is the work of chef Reece Moore, best known for his creations with Satsu at The Gun, but also for his stints manning the pans at Texture, Dabbous and Bao. Here, he specialises in modern global “small to medium” plates made using predominately local, seasonal British produce; dayboat fish; and native rare-breed meat. Moore’s whole idea with Belly is to “let the ingredients speak for themselves”, so getting good ingredients is relatively important to him.
Pull up a pew at one of the pub’s simple, Victorian-style wooden tables, and you can expect to peruse a daily-changing menu of dishes ranging from comfortingly familiar pub grub with an artful slant (like pork & fennel sausages with mash & red wine gravy); through to things you’d expect more from a Mediterranean seaside spot (including grilled harissa octopus); frequently Thai-inspired numbers (slow-braised short rib with puntarelle, red onions, mint, rice powder & a spicy Thai chilli dressing, for instance); and Italian-style plates like a simple saffron risotto with courgette & parmesan.
While Belly’s taken over the kitchen, the bar remains constant: this cosy backstreet Islington hideaway has a full run of the regulars now that it’s a freehouse. Try their Compton lager, or dip into the lists of biodynamic wines and cocktails (including no less than three different negronis) made from locally sourced spirits.
After which you’ve probably given your own belly quite enough attention.
NOTE: Compton Arms is open Tuesday – Sunday (kitchen closed Tuesdays). You can find out more, and book a table for dining, HERE.
Compton Arms | 4 Compton Avenue, London, N1 2XD
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