The Tamil Prince is the latest venture from former Roti King executive chef Prince Durairaj and ex-JKS general manager Glen Leeson, and follows on from the pair’s Tamila street food concept, which they launched back in 2021 at the Hackney Bridge development.
Choosing a pub setting for their first bricks and mortar location is a smart move. Desi pubs have been a fixture of British high streets since the 1960s, and The Tamil Prince is a bold and brilliant reworking of the concept that brings it into the modern day. Previously known as The Cuckoo, the nineteenth century public house sits on the corner of a residential area in Islington. The interiors stay true to the pub’s history, but throughout Durairaj and Leeson have scattered elegant nods to its new South Indian direction. These include everything from the decorative items and plants dotted around the dining room, to the brass plates used to serve the food and the old Indian tea glasses used for water and short drinks.
Durairaj hails from Tamil Nadu, and his cooking takes plenty of cues from the chef’s home state, with a focus on vegetarian and vegan dishes. The menu has a robust, contemporary feel; split between small and large serving plates. Portions are generous, and the spicing is considered – ranging from fiery grilled tiger prawns in garlic masala to a richly comforting dhal makhani.
Complementing the food is a host of British and Indian beers available by the bottle or on draft. For those looking for something a little more adventurous, there’s also a cocktail list created by Simone Pugi that features ingredients and flavours from southern-India. Options include a tamarind margarita; and jaljeera, a North Indian drink made using coriander, mint, and other spices.