Bordered by buzzing Camden to the west and bohemian Bloomsbury to the south, Islington’s location helps to make it one of London’s most eclectic boroughs. Antique shops rub shoulders with ultra-modern concept stores along Camden Passage, while aspiring thespians practise their craft in Islington’s myriad fringe theatres.

Islington is bursting at the seams with places to pit stop. Away from the shining lights of the West End and bustling Covent Garden, Islington’s dining scene has a different vibe: intimate, environmentally responsible and undeniably hipster. Perhaps no other place epitomises that spirit quite as well as the prizewinning restaurant, The Duke of Cambridge.

Our mantra is simple: live life on the veg!
Geetie Sing, Founder of The Duke of Cambridge

Championing the sustainable food revolution since 2014, this farm-owned gem on the corner of St Peter’s Street is one of Islington’s top foodie destinations. Experts in the restaurant/​pub trade said it’d never work – an organic gastropub in the heart of Islington!” general manager Kevin Davies told us. But as shown by nearly 20 years of serving up hearty, sustainable dishes, work it does.

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The Duke of Cambridge sits on the corner of St Peter’s Street. Courtesy of The Duke of Cambridge.

The Duke of Cambridge 

This proudly ethical business was the brainchild of restaurateur and environmental activist Geetie Singh, who opened The Duke of Cambridge’s doors in 1998 to critical acclaim. Geetie spent her early years in a rural commune in the Midlands, where everyone grew their own, so she knows the value of farm to plate’ first hand. When she married Guy Watson of Riverford in 2014, they brought one of the most celebrated organic farms in Britain into the fold. Guy took over the reins of Riverford in 1986 and revolutionised the way the farm was run. He even launched a tellingly popular, totally recyclable veg box scheme in 1993, which still sees 47,000 boxes of organic fruit and veggies delivered across the UK every year. 

It seemed a natural progression to join forces with Riverford, so we’re now the first farm-owned pub in London,” says Singh. Our recipes use the best organic vegetables and produce from Riverford’s farms. Our mantra is simple: live life on the veg!”

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The founder of The Duke of Cambridge Geetie with husband Guy who owns Riverford Farms

Simple seems to be a buzzword at The Duke of Cambridge. It’s stripped back and unassuming, with bare floorboards, recycled furniture and a saloon vibe. The bar room thrums with chatter on packed Saturday afternoons, while the smart dining room offers a calm oasis for diners, with its terracotta walls, exposed brick and enormous skylight. Well-worn blackboards adorn the walls, showcasing the pub’s daily choice of hearty, guilt-free dishes, while the tables are decorated with dried bunches of lavender and vases of vegetables. 

Epitomising laid-back Sunday lunching in Islington, the pub pulls in locals with its organic beer selection, unintrusive service and relaxed ambience. Wines from the short list are all organic or biodiverse, while lagers and ales hail from independent breweries from around the country.

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The Duke of Cambridge’s wines are all organic or biodiverse, while lagers and ales hail from independent breweries from around the country. Courtesy of The Duke of Cambridge.

Eat Green, Live Green

The pub has plenty of green credentials too it remains the only Soil Association-certified organic pub in the UK and has won an array of awards, including Most Ethical Pub from The Jellied Eel and The Good Pub Guides London Dining Pub of the Year. Much of this rustic gastropub’s produce comes directly from Riverford Farms and its mantra is all about ethically sourced meat and sustainable fishing. No ingredient passes through the door if it has come from more than 100 miles away. 

From its earliest beginnings The Duke of Cambridge has been dedicated to educating its customers on organic and sustainable living. We’re all about seasonal, local ingredients to keep food miles super low. We have a fish-buying policy approved by the Marine Conservation Society, meat from small, high-welfare farms, absolutely no air freighting, wind and solar-generated green energy, waterless urinals… Yet, despite the pub’s ethos remaining true for these past 18 years, we’re constantly evolving.” 

Indeed, the inventive menu is constantly changing depending on what’s coming up from Riverford’s fields, though a typically unusual starter could be sriracha and aioli-spiced Cornish brown crab on toast, or caldo verde: Portuguese cabbage and potato soup with chorizo.

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The menu changes depending on what’s in season on the farm, though a typically unusual starter could be sriracha and aioli-spiced Cornish brown crab on toast. Courtesy of The Duke of Cambridge.

Mains are wholesome and perfectly balanced: think pork belly with a haricot blanc and tomato stew, or salmon and roasted fennel in a red mullet broth. If you’re looking to push the boat out, you could try a mouthful of the indulgent hot chocolate mousse tart for dessert. 

If you can squeeze in a trip soon you’ll see their ingredient of the moment is the cardoon, or the artichoke thistle’. Guy told us that it’s a complex, bitter-flavoured and statuesque vegetable that tastes wonderful” and one he’s been obsessed with for 25 years: Cardoons often feature on our menu and they’re ideal in gratins, stews, tagines, or with a big fat steak. As a member of the thistle family, they flower beautifully too – you’ll find bunches hanging around the pub as decoration.”

Fair trade, independent, responsible and almost entirely eco-friendly, The Duke of Cambridge still holds its own in London’s clean dining scene, even after two decades. What’s more, Geetie and Guy take their role in the neighbourhood seriously, taking part in charity fundraisers and local school projects keeping the pub at the heart of the N1 community.

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