Pub and restaurant, The Elk in the Woods, on Camden Passage in Angel, Islington, has closed. Having been open for over 15 years, its insider-y, pre-restaurant-boom charm rendered it a favourite for many — a place known not only for its distinct woodland-themed wallpaper.
The reasons for the closure remain unknown and the owners of The Elk in the Woods did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Eater. All that the restaurant has posted is a message advertising furniture for sale. However, it is known that a second branch of Brother Marcus, the café in Balham, will open in the space.
It is also just the latest in an increasing number of restaurants and bars to close in the Islington neighbourhood: Upper Street, in particular, which is adjacent to Camden Passage, is a high street that has been hit hard by the so-called casual dining downturn — attributed to increased competition, as well as higher business rates and rents.
The Elk in the Woods — a sort of Instagrammable ‘local’ before Instagram existed — was largely known among hospitality workers, a place where they would gather on days off, sitting at table nine (by the window), drinking cocktails. It is fondly remembered as one of the first places which successfully and deftly managed the balance between a restaurant and pub, without subscribing to the typical model of the gastropub, per se.
Islington local, stylist Kate Ruth, who alerted Eater to the closure remembered it that as “always a nice, calm, welcoming spacious place for meetings and such great people watching.”
Further tributes have been paid on Twitter this afternoon, not just from members of the hospitality industry, but from writers across the spectrum:
Author Lizzy Barber said: “I moved into my first flat in Upper street in 2012, we made a beeline there for our first dinner. Camden Passage is such an Islington gem and it stood out as a perfect independent on that strip.”
While Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti, rued its passing: “I used to pop in for a drink on some cold evenings. Camden Passage and the vintage market there on weekends, adjacent to the Breakfast Club and Snog, the fro yo place — all synonymous with my early twenties. The Elk either the precursor to or the warming abode after a walk along the canal”.
Sam Herlihy, owner of Pidgin and Magpie restaurants and, as a musician, Hope of States frontman, also used to frequent the restaurant. “It was just cool in a nicer way that later in other places became self-conscious and intimidating. It was classy and kind of baroque inside, not grimy and graffitied, he told Eater. “We were definitely not cool at all but sitting in there, booking the back table in the gloom to sit and talk to journalists made us feel a lot cooler than we were. The burger was good too and most pub burgers were and are gross. We did most of our interviews for our second record in there. Firstly, because we loved it and secondly because it was pretty spendy and the record company would pay the bill. Lots of Zubrowka bison grass vodka and apple juice cocktails and burgers.”
Finally, Ed and Edd recalled great lamb burgers and “the best breakfast.”
Was, for the first few years I lived in London, one of my go to places, served the best breakfast, intrigued to see what happens in the space— Edd Kimber (@TheBoyWhoBakes) June 13, 2018