The prospect of three bank holidays in May is great for many reasons – long weekends, less work and more time with friends and family.
What it isn’t brilliant for, however, is my bank account.
With the cost of living crisis still upon us particularly in regards to food and drink, the idea of another weekend spent out in London boozing is already making me nervous.
But luckily for us Tesco has brought its first ever pub to Farringdon, in the centre of the capital, to help us enjoy a cheaper meal out and mark the King’s coronation.
The King in the Castle is a pop-up only around until the end of tomorrow, and all proceeds from its sales will go to The Prince’s Trust – set up by Charles to help young people during his role as the Prince of Wales.
The supermarket giant has encouraged people to ‘do good by going to the pub’, so who am I to say no to that?
I headed to Cowcross Street, right next to the Tube station, to find out what it was all about.
There was a bit of buzz around the pub as I walked up to the door in the sunshine, and Tesco workers were on a stall outside offering people free samples of sandwiches.
I squeezed past three pairs of potential punters asking if there was space for them inside and was quickly shown to my booked table.
The interior was exactly how I imagined – a traditional British pub and very apt for a coronation. It was decorated with flowers, crown-shaped cushions, union flags and Tesco bunting, which is not my usual style but I’ll let it slide for a special weekend.
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The historic Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla will take place in Westminster Abbey on Saturday, May 6, 2023.
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When I sat down I was first astounded by the wide selection of food and snacks on offer, then was again pleasantly surprised by how cheap everything was.
Starters and snack dishes such as scotch eggs, croquetas, patatas bravas and plant-based goujons were just £3, sweet snacks including cake were just £1, and sandwiches were £4.
There was a wide selection of gluten-free, vegan and veggie options too, though it was a shame not to see the new coronation quiche on there.
A polite waiter quickly took our order and we opted for the royal high tea sharing platter, which was £10 and included a Pimm’s-style cocktail served in a teapot.
We also opted for a gin martini and a raspberry and peach bellini, which were a steal at £6 each – basically unheard of in central London. Glasses of Tesco wine started at £2.50 for a large (!), though pints sadly were not part of the bespoke menu with the cheapest at £5.90.
Soon after a plate stand arrived piled high with food, and it looked absolutely delicious.
It featured coronation chicken sandwiches, coronation king prawn sandwiches, Burford Brown runny egg sandwiches (rumoured to be a favourite of the king), savoury and sweet scones, cupcakes, and slices of coronation cake. Phew.
The sandwiches tasted good considering I’m not usually a huge fan of coronation chicken, though the bread was slightly on the dry side. The star of the show however were the scones which were soft and crumbly, and the savoury ones paired perfectly with the coronation chicken.
Controversially the sweet scones already came layered the Devonian way with cream then jam on top – which is the correct way, in my opinion. The cake wasn’t the best I’d ever tasted but was nice enough, and at £1 for a slice couldn’t be sniffed at.
The gin martini tasted particularly strong so I passed on that one for a work lunchtime, but the cocktail in a teacup dangerously tasted almost like fruit juice.
As the waiter cleared away our dishes he asked us if we wanted anything else, but we were truly stuffed for a lunchtime so declined.
Before heading off we sat back to take in the festive atmosphere, which was relaxed and much like any other British pub. Of course, I had to try on the selection of coronation-themed costumes before leaving (I blame the cocktails for that).
Cheerful and delightfully cheap, to me The King in the Castle is reminiscent of Tesco’s take on a Wetherspoons – but with better food and the money from the sales goes to charity.
The only disappointment was not being allowed to use my Clubcard to grab some extra points.
It’s a shame it’s only sticking around for two days though, and Londoners will surely be praying for its return some day.
Table bookings sold out almost immediately but walk-ins are still available until the end of Friday, and if you can’t make it you can buy most of the items on the menu in Tesco stores.
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