Big buns, pigs in bed and a filthy cow. We get the lowdown on the food from industry veteran John Gladwell


“The idea came from finally getting the balls to do something for myself,” says head honcho John Gladwell. “Streetfood and residencies felt right: they’ve got personality and a buzz that we want to reflect with what we serve.”

John’s been in the hospitality industry for over two decades and has a wealth of experience. “I started in gastropubs in the home counties, and then moved to London to take on head and executive chef posts,” he says.

And John’s partner in both life and business Debs Croshaw comes from a marketing background. “Most recently I worked for Tabasco,” she says.

And how did the duo team up? “Well, a lucky swipe on a dating app last year brought us together,” says John. “We hit it off immediately, and soon discovered we had a shared passion for discovering new restaurants, dishes, and of course burgers!”

The menu they’ve devised for their stint at the Dalston boozer is around 30% vegan, with the likes of’Fun-Guy’ (low and slow pulled mushrooms,’mockzarella’, bourbon bbq, and sour chillies) and miso’Tofu Fighting’ featuring. “We like to think we have something for everyone,” says John.

Another inventive creation is their roast with all of the trimmings encased between a seedy brioche bun.

We sample one on our visit, and are impressed by a mound of moist chicken alongside bread sauce and’slaw’ – a buttery mix of cabbage, sprouts and carrots.

Accompanied by a pile of cubed potatoes – crispy on the outside, yet splendidly fluffy within – and a pot of intense thyme-laden gravy, this is a worthy alternative to the traditional Sunday dinner.


Oh, and do kick your meal off with’Pigs in Bed’ – think mini sausages wrapped in bacon sitting pretty in dinky yet plump yorkshires. A two-bite delight.

“It’s been a roller-coaster,” says John. “Back in February we hit up the waistlines of a few friends to check if we really had a product or not. Thankfully they agreed we did, and we started selling at markets in June.”

After spotting them on Instagram, The Three Compasses visited for a taster. “They offered us the pub residency there and then, and the rest is history,” says John.

And where did the name spring from? “It came about when a good pal objected to the word’filthy’ being used to describe food,” says John. “Never being one to shy away from a challenge, our bun-cept was born. For the record, he’s completely changed his mind now!”

They view the bread as the’delivery driver’ – a vehicle for their masterful array of ingredient combos. One of John’s fave items is his signature’Cheesy House’. “It’s a tricky one, but if I had to choose it would be that,” he says. “It hits the mark every time.”

We would have to agree, after we greedily annihilate a flavourful 45-day dry-aged patty comprised of prime cuts from rare and native British breeds.

Topped with a duo of Red Leicester and Swiss, and drizzled with beefy ketchup and smoked mayo, there’s also a layer of homemade pickles to cut through the richness and provide balance.


Those after a smidge more decadence should go for the’Filthy Cow’, which also includes a dollop of eight hour braised ox cheek ragu.

Or why not add some peri peri wings or poutine-style fries to your order – the latter arrives brimming with all manner of toppings, ranging from’nduja and curds to crispy onions.

John’s also a big fan of his animal-free butternut and bean’I can’t believe there’s no butter’. “It comes with what I’m calling’vernaise’ – my take on bearnaise,” he says. “It’s pretty damn tasty. Considering I’ve always been about the meat, coming up with fresh vegan ideas is proving to be a helluva lot of fun.”

The symmetrically-shaped watering hole sits at one end of Ridley Road Market, and is the ideal spot for the pair’s venture.

Casual, welcoming, with a varied selection on tap, and sizeable TVs screening sport, where better to hunker down for the afternoon with a pint and a standout burger.

The Filthy Buns menu is available at The Three Compasses, 99 Dalston Lane, E8 1NH, seven days a week, Mon-Fri  5pm-10pm, Sat 12-10pm and Sun 12-8pm. 

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