For me, Farringdon is old London. Proper cobbled street, old crooked building, a history that goes back centuries. The presence of Smithfield Market, which seems rugged and real in its very architecture, is like the beating heart of the area. Food is such a prominent feature in an area like this. And if you’re a young writer looking to get a feel for its history and tradition, a visit to The Hope is a no brainer.
The pub itself is housed in an old Grade II listed building and can trace its roots all the way back to 1790. With beautiful, mahogany doors and window frames at the entrance, this pub has two clear personalities; that of a traditional boozer downstairs, complete with a vibrant atmosphere fuelled by locally brewed beers, and a calmer Gin Parlour upstairs, stocked with over 20 premium gins for you to make your way through.
Food & Drink
From the menu, it’s clear that traditional ranks high on The Hope’s list of concerns. After all, the venue revolves around arguably London and the UK’s most traditional dish; the pie.
But to first whet our appetites, we got stuck into the gin selection. The barman has developed a deep knowledge of the intricacy of gin and was keen to make suggestions based upon our preferences. Apparently, my date suited a classic G&T, made with Chase Gin, traditional Fever Tree tonic and garnished with juniper berries, while I was offered a spicier number, made with Oriental spiced Opihr Gin, topped with Elderflower Tonic and a generous chunk of ginger (both £8.50). It was refreshing but hard a gentle tickle of warming spice that grew louder with each sip.
For food, the pie is king here at The Hope. They’ve teamed up with Pieminister to offer a selection of award-winning pies that use meat that is 100% British, free range and from farms with the highest welfare standards, so you know you’re eating only the best ingredients. There’s a superb selection on offer, from the traditional to the inventive, using a mixture of beef, chicken and vegetables as each pie’s base.
For just a meal of pie and gravy, you’ll certainly feel comfortable, but you’d be a fool not to order a few side dishes too. No pie is complete without a smooth creamy mash (£2) on the side, and I personally would despair if I didn’t have the vibrancy of the sweet and minty mushy peas (£2) on my plate. But on The Hope’s menu, it’s hard to look over the macaroni cheese (£3). We all know that the best bit of a mac & cheese is the crispy bits on top, but this one in particular doesn’t stop there - it has an entire crispy lid. Thick, bursting with a rich cheese taste and with a moreish texture, this was almost the best part of the meal; well, except for the pies, of course.
I chose the Moo & Blue, a British steak and stilton pie, while my companion went for the Free Ranger, which we were told was one of the pub’s best sellers (both £6.50). We went half and half, splitting the sturdy, buttery pastry cases filled generously down the middle. Both were cooked well and perfectly balanced a great texture with an equally great flavour. But it was the Free Ranger with its chicken, Wiltshire ham, leek and thyme filling that just pipped the beef for flavour. Tender, creamy and offering an occasional salty hit from the ham, it’s a must try in my eyes.
The Hope offers quality and tradition throughout, with a passionate barman who is eager to please and astound, and a talented team in the kitchen that do justice to the quality ingredients they’re working with. It’s easy to spend an evening making your way through the gin menu, and, if I had the stomach capacity, I’d have happily made my way through the pie menu too.