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Can you hear the Irish music? If it‚Äôs Saturday and you‚Äôre in Fonthill Road then it‚Äôll be coming from the WB Yeats. Here‚Äôs a chance to meet the pub‚Äôs chef, Killian Lynch, who lives and works in Finsbury Park. Photos by Kimi Gill.
Tread softly because St Patrick‚Äôs Day is coming up, so where and how will you be celebrating your links to the Emerald Isle? Back in the day Islington attracted huge numbers of Irish people, many settling here to do the jobs the Londoners weren‚Äôt so keen on doing. Part of this legacy was a large number of Irish pubs and a definite understanding of #craic or #craicagusceol.
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Everyone knows that all over Britain pubs the successful pubs are doing things a bit differently, especially in the kitchen. ¬†And in Finsbury Park, one Irish pub that‚Äôs smartened up is found at the eastern end of Fonthill Road.
Previously known as the Edinburgh, Duke of Edinburgh, Red Rita‚Äôs and the N4, it was renamed the William Butler Yeats when Aonghus Leydon took it on in 2013. Aonghus, who manages the pub, has a serious north London Irish-pub connection as his family has run The Auld Shilleagh in Stoke Newington for 26 years (it‚Äôs home page describes it as ‚Äúthe most authentic Irish pub outside Ireland‚ÄĚ.
W B Yeats is also strongly Irish-themed besides the flowing Guinness. You‚Äôre sure to spot framed quotable lines from the great poet such as ‚ÄúThere are no strangers here, only friends you haven‚Äôt yet met‚ÄĚ, and on St Patrick‚Äôs Day, and the second Saturday of the month, there‚Äôs a resident Irish music band (plus an open jamming session on Fridays).
So what brings a new crowd to this pub? For some it‚Äôs the large range of hand pump beers (19) including four Brew Dog, Trumans from Brick Lane and Franciscan Well, a Co Cork brewery. For others, it‚Äôs the food created by Co Meath-born chef Killian Lynch. Killian, 33, has long been hungry to run his own kitchen; hbegan his catering career at 17 years old jetting off to Holland while his friends took their exams. He is also an old friend of Aonghus thanks to renting a room from him above the Railway Tavern in Finsbury Park, which recently became a Starbucks.
Places Kilian Lynch loves in Islington
- Everything I do is around food. Stroud Green Road is lovely ‚Äď all independent shops and restaurants (apart from Tesco and Sainsbury‚Äôs). There‚Äôs an amazing greengrocer, if I‚Äôm stuck I pop in. The quality is amazing.
- Monday is my night off and I love Asian food, it‚Äôs the very opposite of what I do! Q&T ‚Äď the Vietnamese on 57 Stroud Green Road is really good. I love the beef pho and soft shell crab.
- I‚Äôve recently discovered how great Nag‚Äôs Head market is. I went to get a shoe repair and found an incredible Taiwanese and sushi place, Ho-Ja (unit 10). The last time I‚Äôd gone it was more stalls which closed at 5pm, now there are restaurants trading until about 9pm.
Killian knows his food ‚Äď learnt at home thanks to his mum and chef uncle and working at restaurants. He‚Äôs as happy dealing with a muntjac (wild deer), ‚Äúwe do all our butchering here‚ÄĚ as foraging for blackberries in Gillespie Park to ferment or sourcing wild garlic and elderberries. Meat, especially roasts, are what he specialises in, but there is always a vegetarian option and Irish soda bread.
‚ÄúThe idea is that the food is a cut above other pubs. WB Yeats is a friendly, local community bar selling high calibre food at a price that people interested in food recognise as a dining destination. It‚Äôs very classic. I don‚Äôt like trends,‚ÄĚ says Killian drinking a mug of tea with enough sugar (four!) ¬†to make his spoon stand up. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not reinventing the wheel here. Come and enjoy steak tartare; pork and pistachio terrine, chocolate fondant. We always have roasted beef rump, with beef from Lake District farmers, salsa verde and beef gravy – basically steak and chips!‚ÄĚ
So, how‚Äôs the food shaping up?
‚ÄúThere are lots of regulars,‚ÄĚ says Killian. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs an open hatch so people chat to us and the feedback is incredible. One couple told me it was the only place ‚Äėwe eat meat in Finsbury Park‚Äô.‚ÄĚ They‚Äôre making a good choice as Killian sources his meat extremely carefully, although after a night shift cooking he admits he often heads for a local take-away…
WB Yeats has a really friendly vibe, and it‚Äôs also one of the many places in the borough that you may spot Jeremy Corbyn, as the Islington North MP has ‚Äúpopped in a few times,‚ÄĚ recalls Killian.
So, if it‚Äôs an Irish meal you‚Äôll be wanting this week, then yous can salivate over Killian‚Äôs twist on an Irish stew (mutton) with crubeens (crispy pigs’ trotters), bacon and cabbage accompanied by a proper pint. See you there.
- WB Yeats, 20 Fonthill Road, N4 3HU open every day (kitchen tues-sun). Reservations 020 8617 3400, firstname.lastname@example.org
- instagram @w-b-yeats
- twitter @WBYeatsN4
Over to you
If you‚Äôd like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird dot green at gmail dot com. Thanks to Claire for suggesting this interview.
If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the¬†A-Z ¬†index, or¬†search by interviewee‚Äôs roles or¬†Meet Islingtonians¬†to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola