Islington is blessed with many great pubs but there’s one that sticks out, in a good way, and that’s Plaquemine Lock. Run by Jacob Kenedy of Bocca di Lupo, it’s bringing the bayou to the Regent’s Canal. Kenedy may have made his name doing excellent regional Italian food but here it’s all about the cajun and creole food of Louisiana. There’s a family connection to the state and it’s reflected in the pub – Jacob’s great-grandparents built a lock in the town of Plaquemine in Louisiana (hence the name) and the murals in the space, one of which depicts the family steamer boat that first passed through the lock gates, were done by his mother Haidee Becker.
Plaquemine Lock, which has recently turned five and has also been Michelin Bib Gourmand holders since 2018, has just revamped its menu and it’s packed full of cajun and creole classics that you don’t often see in London restaurants. There are a couple of things you have to start with, like the cajun cracklins, crispy little nuggets of pork belly with a mustard dip; the fried chicken, which is just one small piece but a good’un nonetheless, and comes with slices of pineapple to offset the fattiness; and the sugar beignet bacon sandwich, four words that belong together on the page and in your mouth.
The blackened quail is a tricky little bird to eat but it has a proper char on the skin and juicy meat underneath, though the best thing about the plate is the pecan condiment that accompanies it. If you go heavier on the small plates, you can get away with just one of the mains; in a toss up between two Louisiana staples, we went for jambalaya over gumbo and were rewarded with a dish of rich, unctuous rice packed with sausage and duck meat. With a plate of fried green tomatoes and punchy remoulade on the side, you really are transported to the Deep South.
The food at Plaquemine Lock is a huge draw but it’s still a pub so you can very much drop in for a drink, and the bar does shake up an excellent margarita as well as having a good selection of beers on tap. And best of all, there’s live blues on Monday nights and jazz on Tuesdays, which really adds a whole new level to the atmosphere of the place. There’s never been a better reason to extend the weekend…
139 Graham St, London N1 8LB