Tucked away in a cobbled square underneath The Pleasance Theatre, The George Shillibeer is the new incarnation of the old Woodstore pub, just north of Caledonian Rd underground station. It’s big, airy, distinctly decorated with oversized lamp shades and has a candlelit feel without seeming dark. In addition to being the perfect place to get a pre-show drink, it’s also a nice bar to get happily drunk in with your friends.
The food menu is filled with low-key, semi gastro pub fare with reasonable prices and hearty portion sizes. The kitchen is within eyesight too, which is always sort of comforting when it comes to pub food and as weird as it sounds, when the flame grilled steaks start to kick off a little smoke it makes the place look and sound even cooler.
From our point of view it’s worth a visit just to give their thicker than thick chips a go, which are cleverly stacked like spud-based jenga. You should probably also try the fish finger sanwich too, as it’s sturdy enough to prop open a spring swing door.
There’s a good range of decent wines and a mix of beers and ciders, but the place is deceptive in terms of drink impact and time perception and you can soon find yourself three sheets to the wind with an extreme challenge from one of your “mates” to deal with. The prices are fairly standard for North London, which means that they aren’t quite as cheap as the Coronet on Holloway Rd, but their not as pricey as some of the place in and around Angel.
One of the best features of the new design is the upright piano that they’ve installed and left open for anyone to play on by the front door. It definitely sets the pub apart from other venues in Islington and fits in well with the showbiz connections of The Pleasance Theatre upstairs.
The George Shillibeer is a great new addition to the Caledonian Rd side of Islington, possibly the best incarnation of the pub for a while. With a name that comes from the inventor of the Omnibus, a large horse drawn carriage with fares and multiple stops (essentially the antecedent of modern day buses), and other quirky embellishments, it’s definitely a bit unique.
The George Shillibeer bar review: 4/5