What's the draw
Tom Oldroyd has garnered a loyal following for the work he's doing at his self-titled Islington restaurant, serving Italian-inspired small plates out of a tiny space on Upper Street. In the more English setting of the Duke of Richmond pub in the Dalston/Hackney borderlands, Oldroyd goes French. Here, you'll find a menu full of dishes that seem more bistro than boozer, cooked up by head chef Rory Shannon and served in a comfy, accommodating dining room, where only the odd siren breaks the feeling of being a lightyear or two from its East London surrounds.
What to drink
Despite its menu, Oldroyd wants the Duke to feel like a pub, and it pretty much does – especially so at the bar, with local Dalston brewer 40FT alongside some other decent London beers. A couple of Italian-leaning aperitivi make the cut – including a house-blended vermouth spritz – and there's a decent, compact wine list, too. With dinner, we opted for a reliable Picpoul de Pinet from Domaine Roquemolière – crisp and fresh, with enough presence to cut through rich crab and trout, and stand up to a sweet, sharp tomato tart, too.
What to eat
The menu here toes the line between dainty and dirty – a prime example being the bar menu's tender strings of brown crab meat in a delicate sluice of rouille sauce, shoved alongside piping-hot, multiple-times-cooked French fries into a pillowy brioche bun. Crab appears on the dining room starters menu, this time in the form of an immaculately prepared and richly flavoured soufflé alongside a teensy jug of bisque and a bouncy gougère. And another starter is a knockout: a beautifully crisp tarte fine with just enough give in the pastry, covered in confit tomato, with a spoonful of earthy black olive tapenade and an almost burrata-rich crème fraîche. For main, we went for a little slab of sea trout – cooked until firm but yielding to the fork, in a simple, tasty bisque with clams, samphire and a roughage of dill. Dessert didn't disappoint, either: when we see "rum baba, chargrilled pineapple and toasted coconut, chantilly cream" on a menu, our plan of attack is order it immediately and hope it doesn't disappoint. We did, and it didn't.
Bar menu dishes from £1.50; dining room starters from £4; mains from £13. 316 Queensbridge Road, E8 3NH; thedukeofrichmond.com