Elephant and Castle Pub: Seasonal Starters & Eclectic Pub-Grub

Elephant and Castle Pub

Jeremy: Pitching Elephant & Castle as a destination for food and casual drinks can be a hard sell to anyone who hasn’t visited the area in recent years. The same goes for the many north Londoners who’ve never set foot in E&C in the daytime. The Coronet and Corsica are far from culinary; they think Ministry, not minestrone. In the days of the underpasses, when the roundabout was actually round, you’d be forgiven (incorrect, but forgiven) for assuming that Nando’s and Spoon’s were the only viable eating options.

2016’s reincarnation of the Elephant and Castle Pub saved London from yet another Foxtons, and introduced a new kitchen with an ambitious menu. Amid the sea of luxury, seemingly-empty apartment blocks that have sprung up, E&C is now home to an eclectic mixture of food markets and sit-down dining locations. This pub is a real asset to that scene.

Ariel: I was so excited when this pub re-opened. It was such a promising space just at the other end of our street, and the turnaround was incredible. Having somewhere close by with a nice beer garden and cozy indoor seating has been perfect, giving us a place to pop out for a quick drink before or after dinner.

Drinks & Pub-Grub

Jeremy: Ariel and I last ate at the Elephant and Castle Pub in the winter, where we feasted on jerk chicken wings, burgers and cheesy potato dumplings. I have nothing but happy memories of this meal and can’t wait for the winter menu to return, bringing back the cheesy potato dumplings with it!

This time we opted for a selection of “starters and sharers”, along with bottles of Rekorderlig. We love this pub because it has mango-raspberry Rekorderlig in abundance, so neither of us has to go near that strawberry-lime shit.

Jerk glazed chicken wings

Jeremy: I’m a big fan of these, hence why we returned to them. They’re the kind of hot and oily wings you try to resist picking up right away for fear of getting burned, but tuck into anyway because they’re just that tasty.

Ariel: Worth the mess. Despite the decent sauce-to-wing ratio, I still managed to get it all over my face and hands, but Jeremy decided to stand by me during these dark times.

jerk chicken wings from elephant and castle pub southeast london

Scotch Egg with Homemade Chutney and Chargrilled Baby Gem

Jeremy: This was the standout dish of the starter platter. Good quality scotch eggs remain a bit of a revelation for me—I still think of them as something you buy from Tesco in mass quantities for little more than a pound.

Now Biddy’s Tea Room in Norwich and Scotchtails of Borough Market have opened my eyes to the existence of gourmet scotch eggs, and the scotch egg at the Elephant and Castle Pub is of the same high calibre.

I have less to say about the “baby gem”. Funnily enough, even when chargrilled, lettuce remains underwhelming.

Scotch Egg with Homemade Chutney, Elephant and Castle Pub southeast london

Smoked Garlic & Cheese Croquette, Paprika Mayo

Jeremy: It’s hard to go wrong with a croquette. These were thoroughly decent with a garlicky, spiced twist, but they’re not quite the best that South East London has to offer.

Ariel: My aim with this blog is to have an excuse to traverse all of South East London eating as many croquettes as possible in as many places as possible. End game is a comprehensive ranking of all the croquettes. In fact, sometimes I may even have to try the same croquettes again because I am just that thorough.

These weren’t quite as flavourful as the croquettes we had at Flat Iron Square. I can’t put my finger on if it was less cheesy goodness or missing the smoky flavour that the other ones had.

croquettes from elephant and castle pub southeast london

Pan Fried Squid, Crispy Chorizo, Chilli Oil & Dipping Bread

Jeremy: Juicy, smoky chorizo bites, let down by squid that was a tad on the chewy side. The true joy came from mopping up the chilli oil and crispy leftovers with  bread. It’s one of my favourite eating out activities, and Elephant and Castle Pub, you really came through for me.

Ariel: I definitely enjoyed the chorizo, but was really put off by the calamari. That was my bad because I stupidly assumed it was going to be fried and crispy. On our honeymoon, Jeremy and I had a wacky misunderstanding about cuttlefish; we ordered loads of it, not understanding that it would be served in an endlessly chewy fillet form with no sort of fried buffer. Now anything that reminds me of that is incredibly off-putting.

I also found the random slice a bit off-putting. I thought we’d get a nice baguette-type bread to soak it up, but this was basically just a piece of sliced bread.

squid and chorizo from elephant and castle pub southeast london

Salmon & Haddock Fishcakes, Chilli & Lime Mayo, Mixed Leaves

Jeremy: Can’t say I was a big fan of these. Both taste and texture were a little lacking, and the crispy-coating-to-fish-filling ratio was off. I’ll now hand over to our fish cake aficionado for further comment.

Ariel: A bit too lemony for me, but I did like the texture of them. Looking at the pictures, they still look so yummy! I’d give them another go in the future to see if maybe it was just an off night. I really enjoyed their food in the past.

fishcakes from elephant and castle pub southeast london

Mushroom & Truffle Mac & Cheese, Brioche Crumble

Jeremy: Truffles are a food that I’m gradually forcing myself to enjoy. How else will I one day rub shoulders with the upper echelons of society? Anyway, this mac & cheese had everything you look for in creamy comfort food. The hint of truffle played a great supporting role, augmenting the flavour without stealing the show.

I could’ve done without the brioche crumble; as good as it sounded, it ultimately tasted like someone had crumbled a digestive on top of my food—a nice idea, poorly executed.

truffle mac and cheese from elephant and castle pub southeast london

Spiced Chickpea & Tomato Soup, Toasted Seeds, Chickpea Croutons

Jeremy: This was brought to our table by mistake, in lieu of mac & cheese.

Ariel: It looked lovely, but not something to be eaten in the midst of a heatwave.

Ariel really says:  I don’t know who that imposter Ariel above was…I didn’t write that into this post. (Jeremy says: Damn, you caught me.) I thought we should have kept the soup as we could have tasted it and written about it…and it was free.

Pub Quiz

Elephant & Castle Pub QuizJeremy: We won! With only four teams participating, it felt like a fledgling pub quiz with bags of potential.

The question stages were broken up with a bonus tin foil round, where teams had to construct a head-held eating device using nothing but aluminium foil. We’ve since discovered the tin foil round is a regular feature.

We’re seasoned pub-quizzers but rarely win anything; I think the same goes for three of our four other team members. There’s a £30 bar tab up for grabs along with many other smaller prizes, so get down there soon and you’ll probably win something. Or stay away, so we can start stockpiling free drinks for the cold winter months…

Date of visit: Wednesday 5 July 2017
Next visit: We’re going back tonight!

Update: We returned to the pub quiz and came last. Shows what we know. 

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