Exploring different parts of our city with the crew from The Londonist website is always a much anticipated and stimulating pleasure and, on one of their monthly nocturnal ramblings, I came across this wonderful establishment in North East London.
I used to live over in Hackney, back in the day, but would often pop over to Dalston and Stoke Newington for Ridley Road Market, The Rio Cinema, and The Vortex and see bands play at Stoke Newington Town Hall. I would always drink at the Three Crowns or The Magpie and Stump (now The Lion) in Stoke Newington Church Street. I decided to walk up from Dalston Kinsgsland to see how the area had changed. If anything, Dalston itself had become even more Turkish since I was last over that way; there seemed to be a Turkish restaurant every few meters, I wondered how do they all survive.
After a brisk walk in the chilling night air along what was once the Roman Road to Lincoln, I finally reached Stoke Newington; it was the first time I’d been to the area in almost 15 years and my god, what changes! Church Street was unrecognisable and completely transformed and now full of cute restaurants, artisan bakers, delicatessens, fine wine shops, boutique hairdressers in fact everything that comes with urban gentrification. In my mind however, I always link gentrification with social cleansing and wonder what former residents the anarchist Angry Brigade, previously known as the Stoke Newington 8, would make of the area now?
The last hostelry on our grand tour of “Stokey” was the Jolly Butchers, a large warehouse style gastro pub with high ceilings and a bar lined with fabulous craft beers, ales, ciders and a massive selection of bottled beers from Belgium, Germany, USA and beyond. The place was heaving for a Tuesday night with not a spare seat to be had in the house. So many great beers to choose from but I opted for the Windsor & Eton Brewery Park Life, an excellent rich tasting ale and full of hoppy flavour and perched at the bar.
The Butcher’s has an open plan kitchen in the far corner where you can see all the food being prepared, now being a tad tipsy by this stage of the evening I certainly needed a snack of some kind. I spotted the specials boards and saw a “Jolly Butchers Hot-Dog, Bockwurst sausage with sauerkraut and crispy onion with fries (£7.95).” While pondering this, an elegant waitress glided out the kitchen with a German Sausage Platter, Bockwurst, Bratwurst, Paprika and Beef Sausages with sauerkraut, bread and a selection of mustards (£11.95). Not only did it have a most enticing aroma of German beer halls, it seemed like a better deal too!
In less than 15 minutes the platter was served at my bar side perch. Perfectly cooked and presented this was a great treat for a slightly inebriated food journalist in need of urgent sustenance. Each mouthful was sheer delight; the paprika sausage in particular was my personal favourite; I could have eaten a plateful of those alone. The spiciness was perfectly complemented by the rather excellent ale. The sauerkraut was a weeny bit on the dry side, but equally full of flavour.
Making my way back to North West London on the Overground I couldn’t help wondering what the Angry Brigade would make of the area now; would they see the changes as bourgeois decadence? Or would they welcome the new independent businesses and downgrade themselves to the “Slightly Miffed off Brigade” either way I look forward to coming back to explore more eateries in Stokey.
The Jolly Butchers
204 Stoke Newington High Street
Tel: 020 7249 9471