The King's Head Theatre: What You Need To Know
Founded in 1970 as the first pub theatre since Shakespeare's time, the 110-seat King's Head Theatre on Islington's Upper Street has played host to everyone from Joanna Lumley to Richard E Grant. In 2020, the theatre is hoping to move down the road to Islington Square, but meanwhile, here is everything you need to know if you're travelling there.
Where to eat
Ottolenghi further along Upper Street is Yotam Ottolenghi's flagship for his eponymous deli chain. It's open all day from 8am, so ideal whatever time you want to eat. The deli is justly famous for its inventive salads, such as watermelon, samphire and juniper, and humongous slices of cake. Bookings are taken for dinner and are essential if you want a table.
Radici is the Islington outpost of the talented Calabrian chef Francesco Mazzei. They have a brilliant pre- or post-theatre menu, available for lunch Tuesday to Saturday and for dinner Monday to Saturday, 5pm-7pm and 9:30pm-10:30pm. Two courses are just £16 or three for £19 and feature authentic Italian classics such as luscious meatballs and tagliolini cacio e pepe.
Fig & Olive is located an easy five-minute wander from the theatre and offers modern European cooking, with a Mediterranean influence. Open all day, they have a set dinner menu, but also a frequently changing a la carte menu as well. They have a lovely buffet for salads and cakes, which always feels relaxed and casual.
Where to drink
Humble Grape is a small, but perfectly formed wine bar, just down the road from the theatre. With over 400 different wines to choose from, they often have deals such as Retail Monday, which lets you choose a bottle from the shop and only pay the takeaway price.
69 Colebrooke Row, also known as The Bar With No Name, is a badly kept Islington secret. A diminutive but incredibly atmospheric bar, it's located a short walk from the theatre. Featuring expertly crafted cocktails from award-winning master mixologist Tony Conigliaro, you should book to avoid being turned away. Inside feels like an Italian film noir set, so a simple martini feels like an event.
The Bull is a traditional pub just two minutes from the theatre. They have a wide selection of craft beer, with different specials on tap. The bar is traditional and comfortable, but they also have a cosy upstairs lounge that's perfect if you have a bit of time to spare.
Concessions are available to senior citizens, Equity/BECTU members, students, under-18s, NHS workers and people with registered disabilities. Disabled audience members also receive a companion ticket for free.
Location and transport
Set on Islington's busy Upper Street, the King's Head Theatre is well served by public transport.
The theatre is a ten-minute walk from Angel Tube station (Northern Line, Bank branch) and from Highbury & Islington station, served by the Victoria Line and London Overground.
The theatre is served by bus lines 4, 19, 30, and 43. Alight at 'St Mary's Church'. For southbound services, the theatre is directly opposite the bus stop. For northbound services, the theatre is a one-minute walk from the stop.
Pay and display parking is available nearby. Free street parking nearby is available after 6.30pm. Use the brilliant app AppyParking to check street rules.
Toilets are maintained by the King's Head pub. Downstairs are separate toilet blocks for men and women. On the ground floor is a disabled toilet.
The venue is wheelchair accessible, but the theatre can usually only accommodate one wheelchair, so advance booking is recommended.
While you're there...
The Estorick Collection of Italian Modern Art is a wonderful and relatively unknown art gallery set on Canonbury Square, just ten minutes from the theatre.
With six galleries, a library, café and bookshop, it's the only gallery in Britain to be dedicated to Italian modern art. Featuring works by artists such as Modigliani and Scalini, it's a fantastic place to while away a few hours.
115 Upper St,
0207 226 8561
Photo Credit: Simon Webb