Nanny Bill’s @ The Abbey Tavern, Kentish Town

It’s Dry January, folks.

So what else does Dry January mean? It means pretentious semi-alcoholic twats like myself start saying things like, “oh, you aren’t doing Dry January?”, or “are you at least doing Dry January minus the weekends?” in a totally patronising way, before adding, “I’m doing Dry Before Easter”. Check me out and my boringness and my small nob. Speaking of which, I’ve just re-activated my Tinder profile.

In a fairly neat post-Tinder segue, it also means that turd becomes consistent and only daily once more, and your urine doesn’t look like you’ve snorted a bucket full of crushed-up Berocca.

It also means that I do strange things like walk from Baker Street to Kentish Town, just because I want to count how many fucking cyclists go through the red lights on a Sunday (I counted 7). Oh yeah, and I get to do another spot of looking down at people as I walk past the Wetherspoons (and have to use their toilet because I need to wee more now I don’t have a hangover yet still have loads of toxins to clear) and judge them for drinking alcohol in January. Actually, I’m already judging the customers of Wetherspoons. And Dyson. And Reebok. And Phones4U. And Patisserie Valerie. And JML. And Argent Group Foyles. And Noved. And Numis Securities. And C Hoare & Co. And Odey Asset Management. And JCB. These are all the Brexit-supporting companies that I have found. Yeah, I am never buying a JCB ever again because of Brexit.

Just think, I’ve probably got some new readers this week and this is the introduction I give them. It’ll get worse, before it gets better, folks. Did I mention that I forgot to put deodorant on before my walk?

So what else does Dry January mean?

It means a time of walking down escalators…and soon…walking up escalators. Yep, fat bloke walking up an escalator meme coming soon.

It’s also that time when you go to the bar and ask what their most exciting soft drink is, and then just settle for a glass of apple juice. Whilst looking down at the bloke sat there by himself nursing his 4th pint of the day, thinking to oneself, “you really should try Dry January, buddy”. By the way, I nearly managed 10,000 steps today. Go me! Albeit half of them were in King’s Cross underground station as I tried to change lines. Maybe I should used a different word than ‘lines’ for Dry January? Wait…snorting crystal meth is fine in Dry January, isn’t it?

Oh and most importantly, its a time of writing reviews on a Sunday evening when I get back home. And remembering what I ate. And not starting blogs with cheesy Eurodance like The Ketchup Girls. Oh shit, must message my Spanish friend back, hang on…

Shall I get onto the subject? Google? Are you reading me? I mean, crawling me? Oh OK, I’m far too late in mentioning where I’m going, to be listed in the top 500 pages of search results for “Sunday roasts at The Abbey Tavern in Kentish Town” and should have put it in the first sentence – and besides, the title needs to be “top 10 Sunday roasts in Kentish Town…” to have any chance of listing, hence every fucking estate agent (and the f word generally is appropriate there, no I’m not paying your fucking £500 fee for copy and pasting some terms and conditions…reminder…must mention Chris Grayling and ferries at some point) has a feature on Top 10 Roast Dinners in Where We Have Most Shit And Overpriced Rooms For Rent.

What you looking at? Yello ain’t cheesy.

Anyway, I took a nice walk along Regent’s Canal, arriving at Camden where it became more challenging, and not just because of how unfit I have become, but all the fucking idiots in the way taking photographs of everything for their Insta that everyone else they know has already photographed and added to their Insta, so will only like it in an ironic “Camden is sooo 2004, darling” way, and to be instantly forgotten by all parties. Hell, I wasn’t even offered any weed.

Then I took a fork left and ended up at my destination, The Abbey Tavern in Kentish Town – a slightly unsalubrious yet partly chi-chi area with that odd Londonesque mix of quaint “my first business” vegan ramen restaurants next to a Cash Converters, with some side streets looking like pastel-pink Instagram paradises, others looking rather stabby.

The Abbey Tavern is a fairly small venue, at least on the ground floor – and was almost deserted bar a few tables. An ominous sign or Dry Fucking January? I mean, seriously, guys and girls – Dry January does not mean avoiding gravy.

Oh I’ve already used that meme. And am I the only one who has only just realised that meme has only one syllable?

I found my allocated table (their online form goes to junk mail, so you might want to e-mail them if you want to book a table…though you’d definitely get a table without a booking if my experience is anything to go by), and did the Dry January hipster twat alone in a pub thing and proudly asked what their most exciting non-alcoholic drink was, to the illicit of good-mannered laughs by the bloke at the bar who should probably drink less, and possibly wanted to sell me a JCB.

Well, I can pretend that it is a pint of beer. It was actually a good reminder that I really enjoy the taste of apple juice, and will really hate it by the end of January, let alone Easter when my be-a-slightly-less-fat-bastard detox ends/pauses until next January. Only £2.50 a pint too – some places charged me over £4.00 last year, albeit apologetically.

My accomplice turned up and asked me to go to the bar to order a glass of water for him, and we settled down on the fairly crap chairs to look at the menu. Which isn’t exactly what happened but hey, I’m not pretending that I run a ferry company. Though my imaginary brother does run JCB.

The venue seemed more designed for drinking and evening fun, than eating, and the food offerings have currently been subcontracted out to Nanny Bill’s. Nanny Bill’s seems to be one of these nomadic food companies doing places like Last Days of Shoreditch – and currently have a residency at The Abbey Tavern (and Farr’s in Dalston – sans the roasts). I guess that they won’t be at The Abbey Tavern forever so this review won’t be valid forever either…it is more a review of Nanny Bill’s than The Abbey Tavern itself.

On offer was rump beef, chicken, slow-cooked lamb shoulder or a nut roast for veggies, all very competitively priced between £12.50 and £15.50. I bet I won’t be praising competitive pricing too often this year. Except after Brexit when we will all be marvellously rich. Or possibly very poor after an economic disaster, which apparently will be good, because change is good. Which is exactly what I’ll say to my future wife when I get a sex change.

I chose the lamb shoulder at £14.50 – I couldn’t really get enthused by either the chicken or beef offerings.

And then sat back on my shabby chic chair, wondering how safe it was and whether any of the other shabby chic…shabby chairs would be any more capable. The furniture as a whole had that kind of shabby look, though the bar itself was a bit less sawdust-inspired with a post-Shoreditch standard stripped-back brickwork and fairy lights giving it that cliche yet comforting feel.

They also had a pretty horrendous outpouring of music, from ACDC (so I was told…it sounded horrid to me) to that dreadful song about feeding the world, urgh, and some crap 90’s rnb that I was forced to listen to when I worked in a warehouse up north, in the 90’s. They also had the football showing, though not too many people seemed interested in watching Woking vs Watford. Not that there were many people there in the first place.

I kind of expected our food to turn up in 5 minutes, but it took a good 15 or so, which I was relieved about.

Though when it did, I saw the near-black gravy and instantly was reminded of the abominable road resurfacing tar effort from The Islington Townhouse last year, and then realised that my accomplice possibly hadn’t joined me for a Sunday roast since then…

There was a vast plethora of cabbage, enough to keep a vegan happy for weeks…vegan happy…hmmm possibly an oxymoron there. However far too much of both red cabbage and savoy cabbage for dirty, evil carnivores such as ourselves.

The red cabbage was a strangely faded purple, and fairly flavourless – the savoy cabbage had little more going for it though at least it didn’t look as odd.

Around two whole carrots, sliced vertically, were supplied. Feeling fresh and quite sweet tasting (that’ll be the maple), these were nicely roasted carrots. Also nicely roasted were the slices of parsnip – one might suggest that they had been roasted together.

That’s it in the way of vegetables – it seemed like there should be more to write about, but I guess the mound of cabbage was just getting in the way. Oh for a JCB.

Three roast potatoes were supplied, on the large side and rather too al dente and dry in the middle, and most definitely too hard on the outside – the steak knife came in handy. They weren’t abominable, they were kind of edible, but they were hard work. A hungover roast dinner reviewer would probably have given up.

I’m wary that I seem to be starting every paragraph with a word beginning “th” so I’m injecting this sentence for no good linguistic reasoning at all. The Yorkshire pudding was good, crispy sides and a soggy bottom made for an enjoyable if not especially eggy accompaniment.

I had ordered lamb shoulder, and this was by some way the highlight of the meal – thankfully, as nothing else had truly impressed so far. A substantial amount of meat involved, it had a slight smokiness to it, fell away easily, a slight but wonderful amount of fat to give some added flavour and context. Thank fuck I’m not a vegetarian.

And the gravy was good enough. Slightly odd tasting, and very odd looking being near to black, but it worked – a tad smokey and a tad sweet, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what they had done. It certainly wasn’t the meat stock gravy I desire, but just like going on a romantic date with myself, it was enjoyable enough, if a tad strange and darker than expected.

So a respectable start to 2019.

I’ll remember the pretty damn excellent lamb shoulder, and hopefully I’ll forget both the solid roast potatoes and the mounds of forgettable cabbage. There was enough charm to entice me back to both The Abbey Tavern on a future night out, and to Nanny Bill’s for one of their burgers with gravy. Two enterprises doing respectable things for London.

I’m giving it a 7.22 out of 10. My accomplice was slightly more demurring in his praise, and offered a 7 – the lamb very much rescues the score.

Next weekend I’m going for dinner with two of my Twitter followers. Are they crazy? Quite possibly. Let’s hope I remember to put some deodorant on this time.


Lord Gravy, how can I thank you?

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6 Comments

  1. If you order Cranberry juice next time you can improve your kidneys and your urinary tract at the same time. Just call me Doctor Helpful….I’m not a doctor, nor is that helpful but there you go.

    • Hey Doc, you still coming to London soon?

      • Postponed. The next 18 months are now very busy (thanks to the wife), so we’ve pushed back the trip until after that. But this gives me more time to learn Arsenal chants and why Boris Johnson is a wanker. This blog will still be soldiering on and I still won’t know what Northern Gravy looks like. Maybe a picture of the nectar of the Roast Gods?

        • Well that could work out for the best whilst we compete with you to see how much we can fuck our own country up – with luck for you our pound will struggle even more against the dollar as we try to resurrect the British Empire.

          I will help as much as I can to explain why Boris Johnson is a wanker over the coming 18 months.

  2. I can’t believe the Twitter gathering was scheduled for a month after i left. If you’re going to the coal rooms i might cry 😂 I do also love that you clearly understand SEO but give zero Fs about implementing it!

    • It’s not an official gathering, just meeting two people – I think they instigated it. You are welcome to join one time if you visit London 🙂

      Yeah, I do need to understand it more, but it just really isn’t in my priority list. I’ll reach critical mass eventually. Screw Google.

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