“The Duke” in Clerkenwell is hidden away down a back street (Roger
Street) just off Theobalds Road and Grays Inn Road, London. Although the
pub comes across as a ‘local boozer’, it’s clear from the thought that’s
been put into the decor that it’s not intended for a purely local
audience. The beer selection is pretty good (a nice selection of ales)
and the wine-list is not too expensive, if still a tad on the pricey
The pub itself is split into two parts: the bar, and the restaurant.
Both are nicely fitted out in a kind of modern-rustic way and it manages
to pull this all off without appearing to try too hard.
Our experience went downhill as soon as we asked if we could sit in the
(almost completely empty) restaurant half: “As long as you’re going to
eat.”. We said we were waiting for friends, and they agreed to give us a
whole 40 minutes before we had to order. 10 minutes later, we were asked
again if we were ready to order and had to remind them that we were
waiting for more people. The friends arrived, but then we had to run the
gauntlet of trying to attract a waiters attention; it was puzzling that
after so much harrassment earlier we were actually finding it difficult.
The food was very good when it arrived, although hardly service with a
smile. Again, attracting someone’s attention for another bottle of wine
was an ordeal. The meal/drinks came to around £25 a head in the end,
which I don’t see is a sum to be sniffed at by a pub/restaurant on a
Thursday evening, and although The Duke of York has a very good quality food and a well thought out eating area, the feeling that we were imposing on the staff left us
with no desire to return again.