Itinerary Location: Islington | Duration: 7.5 Hours
Sure, you could meet your friends in the pub and mark the end of the week chewing the fat over a few leisurely pints. But sometimes you just need to careen, full throttle, into the weekend, and this is the itinerary to do just that.
The route takes you from one end of Islington to the other, with all the Friday essentials covered: smoked meats, Irish cocktails, high-tech darts and hip-hop. It’s the springboard for the sort of night where anything might – and probably will – happen. The only certainty is that when you next decide to have a quiet evening in the pub, you’ll have plenty of new topics of conversation for that fat-chewing.
➊ DINNER AT F.K.A.B.A.M. | 6:30pm
F.K.A.B.A.M is what happens when kebabs get a Mohican and a nose ring. This is dinner at its most punk. ‘Formerly Known As Black Axe Mangal’, to give it its full name, draws out big, head-banging flavours in dishes cooked over fire in its tiny restaurant.
The fixed-price menu is revealed each week on their Instagram account; it’s meat-heavy so give them some advance notice if you’re going veg/vegan. Expect plates as renegade as octopus and bacon skewers, Barnsley chop and lamb heart, and squid ink flatbread. You’ll wolf them down to a metal soundtrack, with the juices dripping down your face and on to plastic Hawaiian-print tablecloths.
With the smell of smoked meats lingering in your nostrils, head out to claim the rest of your night…
➋ DRINKS AT HOMEBOY | 8:15pm
Homeboy Islington is a half-mile walk south on Essex Road. Run by an Irish pair with a bar pedigree gained in establishments as diverse as Callooh Callay and New York’s Waldorf Astoria, the cocktail bar-meets-Irish pub has already picked up awards. It also claims to pour the best Guinness in London. Too full for a pint of the black stuff? There are seven pages of cocktails to choose from, many with an Irish bent. The Pot Still Irish Coffee will keep you perky for the rest of the night, or try a Champagne Paloma (tequila, grapefruit sherbet, lime and Champagne) for something a little lighter.
Likely buzzing having inhaled a large dose of Irish hospitality (and booze), it’s time to move on…
➌ FLIGHT CLUB | 10pm
A few minutes away on Upper Street is the Islington outpost of ‘social darts’ bar, Flight Club. You’ll have pre-booked an oche for your group, and need worry about nothing for the next hour and a half but chucking some tiny spears at high velocity, ideally in the direction of the darts board. Thankfully, no adding up is required at this stage of the evening – the high-tech boards will work out the scores for you. Drinks also arrive at the push of button – the signature slushies (Slush Puppies for grown-ups) generally hit the spot.
You’ve thrown some darts, but the night’s not over yet – there’s still time to throw some shapes. Backtrack to Essex Road, and that venerable old dame…
➍ THE OLD QUEEN’S HEAD | 11:30pm
Keeping punters entertained since 1830, this beautiful boozer is a triumph of maximalism. Don’t spend too much time gawping at the blue-tiled bar, antique curios and ornate wooden ceiling and walls – you need to get upstairs.
Barbara K Photography
The weekly Old Queen’s Turn Up sees the resident DJs crack out their hip-hop and R&B collection, so jump into the melee and join in yelling along to Kanye and Rihanna. Want to take that yelling up a notch? Book out the karaoke room for an hour or two, while your personal host delivers booze directly to the booth.
There aren’t many better ways to slip-slide into Saturday morning.
➊ F.K.A.B.A.M | 156 Canonbury Road, Islington, N1 2UP | Book a table
➋ Homeboy Islington | 108 Essex Road, Islington, N1 8LX | Book a table
➌ Flight Club Islington | 56 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0NY | Book an oche
➍ The Old Queen’s Head | 44 Essex Road, Islington, N1 8LM | £5, book in advance for queue-jump
Looking for more inspiration? Check out the best things to do in Islington