Untold: the catering report. The Quays Holloway Road


Getting very fed (Irish style) on the Holloway Road by Blacksheep

This article is adapted from the Goosebarnacles report on The Quays pub, Holloway Road.

This week Drew and I didn’t have a particular venue in mind for our pre-match luncheon, so we strolled down Holloway Road from Archway underground station looking hither and yon.

After several false starts we settled on The Quays – travelling down the hill from Archway towards Holloway Road underground one just stays on the same side of the road as both underground stations.  It’s on the right, and it’s large, and it was fairly empty.

To quote from Drew’s report on his blog,

The Quays is a large and distinctively decorated pub in the London style. It stands out on the Holloway Road because of its colour (sort of purple/blue) and equally colourful interior. We’ve walked past it loads of times but never braved the front door.

Inside is a vast pub, lots of plasma screens (today showing rugby union and football) with lots of seating and old signage advertising whiskeys and all manner of other liquors and drinks. Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to see if they had all (or any) of these in stock as we were there for lunch, not a drinking session.

So I restricted myself to a glass of Merlot (our usual pre-match tipple) and we perused the menu. The Quays serves all the usual fayre: burgers, sausages, pies, steaks, fish etc – all with chips if you want them. But it also does a a roast and an Irish stew. Tony opted for roast beef, while I plumped for stew.

quaysThe first thing to say is that the service was quick and the portions (especially the roast) are enormous. You won’t go hungry at the Quays. Tony struggled to make any real impact on his roast beef. Three huge slices atop a pile of mash and gravy, with a generous side order of vegetables included for about £8. He enjoyed what he ate – honest unfussy food if not cordon blue cuisine.

FullSizeRender(4)My stew was equally good and it came with two slices of soda bread. Soda bread has a very distinctive, slightly chemical taste, which I like a lot. It goes well with soups and stews. The meat in the stew was very tender, soft and well flavoured and there was plenty of it. The rest of stew was made up of potatoes, onion and carrot. It was warm and comforting and just prefect on a blustery autumn day.


It was pub food but when it is possible to eat good honest grub like this for less than a tenner it does make me wonder why all pubs and cafés can’t manage to do it.

I bet they are busy on Sundays because a big plate of roast dinner, washed down with ale or Irish stout, maybe followed by a bowl of crumble and custard, with friendly staff and the footie on the big screen sounds like a cracking weekend day out to me.






The view of the bar inside.





11 Replies to “Untold: the catering report. The Quays Holloway Road”

  1. Do either of you have to watch your diets because this seems to be the ultimate in calorie collusion? One day I hope to visit the UK again and enjoy a Football match in this style.

  2. I suddenly get hungry 🙂

    I suggest you find something nice for my visit on November 1st 😉

  3. Recipe for soda bread

    170g bread flour (wholemeal or plain to taste)
    170g self raising flour (again to taste)
    Half teaspoon salt
    Half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    One carton of buttermilk
    Cold water as necessary
    Rolled oats to decorate

    Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, pour in the buttermilk and mix to a dough – you might need to add a little water if the dough is too still. Place in a round shape on a baking tray, cut a cross in the top and sprinkle the rolled oats on top. Place straight into an oven at 200C and bake for 30 minutes.

    This is a bread that takes 40 minutes from getting the ingredients out of the cupboard to slicing into the hot loaf. It doesn’t keep for more thal 24 hours but rarely lasts that long. About the easiest bread to make. All ingredients from all of the major supermarkets.

  4. untold recipes too now! excellent thanks Andrew. Walter please bring bratwurst for me to sample 🙂

  5. The self-raising flour, as I see it on the Internet, is flour with baking powder and table salt added to it, so this recipe is adding a bit more table salt and making an addition of baking soda. Baking powder is itself a mixture of baking soda and one or more ingredients which are weakly acidic. One of the common acidic ingredients, is itself a salt of a different nature, which also contains sodium. The buttermilk will also provide some acidity. Potentially, this recipe has a lot of sodium in it. Table salt is added to many breads, to restrict the action of yeast. Small additions of table salt tend to accentuate flavours.

    The buttermilk and/or cold water should be cold. A rule of thumb is that a 10C degree change in temperature (from 22C), results in a factor of 2 change in kinetics. Which gives the baker more time for mixing. The liquids will warm up in the oven.

    One problem the beginning baker runs into with these “quick breads”, is that in mixing the ingredients together they take too long, and most of the carbon dioxide escapes, leaving a flat product (over here, sometimes known as a hockey puck). The oven should be turned on, and probably even up to temperature, before the wet ingredients are added to the dry. Mixing should be done quickly, and not necessarily rigourously. If there are the occassional pocket of unmixed flour, just leave them. It may be that the extra salt (or perhaps the kind of flour?) increases the likelihood of producing a crust, and the score on the top is to allow the loaf room to rise even if a strong crust forms.

    A question. You mentioned chips, here (western Canada) probably generically known as “fries” (french fries) but probably cut as wedges instead of shoestrings. Probably made from ordinary potatoe. Are shops like this offering alternatives? For instance, chips made from sweet potatoe or yam?

    Are there other alternatives showing up on the menus?

    East of Edmonton, Alberta is the town (village?) of Mundare. Many of you have problems with autocorrection when typing, Mundare often gets confused with mundane. In any event, the home of Stawnichy’s Meat Processing (a family company of Ukranian-Canadian origin). Stawnichy is famous in western Canada for meat products, and they do have a Bavarian Bratwurst on their product list. But what is more common, is the Slavic sausage known as Kielbasa (which in western Canada is often kubasa, or even kubbie). Stawnichy’s has many different kinds of kielbasa.

    Bratwurst, or sausage, is typically made from beef, veal or pork. I believe pork (in the form of fat) is often added to non-pork sausage meat for its binding properties. In western Canada, it isn’t too hard to find sausages of various styles (bratwurst, kielbasa, …) being made from buffalo, elk, lamb, chicken, turkey or deer (all raised commercially). I see one particular buffalo bratwurst, which has saskatoon berries in it. Saskatoon berries were used by the native Cree peoples to make pemmican. And the trunks of the shrub were used to make bows.

    I have a feeling that omgarsenal is from southern Alberta. There are Untold members in southern Alberta. Perhaps he (they?) knows of famous buffalo products, since Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is in southern Alberta? The neighbour at my farm in Dawson Creek, has raised buffalo. The fences are about 9 feet tall.

    Since I’ve rambled a bit, I’ll include a couple of URLs to put this into moderation:


  6. Was Tony’s beef lean and tender? Or did it require endless chewing? There is nothing worse when the slices are far too thick, which I suspect they were.
    I’m not too enamoured of establishments who delight in serving quite outrageously large portions as a rule.
    And was the meat in Drew’s stew(it rhymes!) lean, or full of fat and gristle?

  7. In Belgium we get itchy when we hear the name “french fries”. We claim that it was the Belgium people who invented “frieten”(dutch) or “frites”(French).

    We were the first to slice the potatoes and then fry them in oil.

    It was only because of some stupid visitors who were in Belgium tasted them and as they heard the Walloon people speak French so they said it were French fries. Idiots.

    Just as chocolates, pralines, Belgian waffles (Brussels and from Liege), our excellent Belgian beers, the fries are from us.

    I could advise English people in need of something typical Belgian food to enter something that is called “Friture” and have a taste of the best fries you have eaten and you can have a real Belgian hamburger with it known as a “Bicky Burger”. Only if you don’t have problems with the cholesterol or any other healthy conditions. But for this once…

    So just say fries from now on! No longer French!

    Fries are ours!
    Rant over 🙂 😉

  8. Walter,
    You’ve just added a reason why the UK shouldn’t secede from the EU.
    Or if it does, it will try to maintain relations with Brussels as an Honorary British Protectorate ( a bit like Gibraltar).

  9. Nicky, my stew contain lean meat, no gristle at all. Tony’s meat looked soft but you’ll have to ask him. In my experience if beef is cooked properly (i.e not too long) and rested then it can cope with being thickly sliced.

    Walter I am amazed you claim chips as Belgian. It is a well established fact that the Britons invented Fish and chips to go with their early version of tea. Tea was originally made with hot water and a spot of milk and India was discovered so that tea leaves could be added to this popular beverage. Fish (plentiful in English waters) were harvested and battered before we invited the Vikings to visit us and then instructed them to discover America so that we could later bring over potatoes to make chips.

    Gord, no in London pubs you will rarely be given the option of having deep fried sweet potatoe or yam chips. Next time you visit these shores do please feel free to ask for them, but don’t say I didn’t warn you

  10. @Blacksheep63,
    Thanks for the info about the meat in your stew. I really prefer mine to be cooked the night before, to allow the meat to marinate for (say)12 hours and then re-heat the stew minus the meat, as by then it has served its purpose. Some folk don’t like this method, in which case I always advise 3 or 4 glasses of Calvados, after which any food tastes “tres bon” in any language.]
    On the subject of the origin of chips, our Walter’s Christian name crops up on more than one occasion.
    Firstly, Walter Raleigh while captaining the initial cricket tour of the West Indies, brought the first chips to Britain, wrapped in a copy of the Jamaica Times. This set a new trend which exists to this day.
    A second Wally, whose surname escapes me, was responsible for the import of tea. He was in India on a professional snooker tour and was persuaded to try a cup.
    He was so impressed, he ordered a chest or two to bring back to the UK. Unfortunately, for Europe, the ship sailed direct to London…..which meant that for the past 500 years dwellers on Mainland Europe are quite unable to make a proper pot of tea….

  11. Nicky, I think we need a whole new series on this: Football Re-fried, or British food betrayed

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