Age: Older than the hills.
Previous incarnation: Legendary (and sometimes smelly) gig venue upstairs, hoary old Chalk Farm boozer on the ground floor with diverse crowd and somewhat crepuscular back room.
So what goes on there now? Well, the brand new refurb is quite smart and yet basic – all tiling, pale wood and painted cornices. And it’s still the most convenient spot to meet a date before the Roundhouse.
What about in the day time? It was ticking over nicely on our last visit, a weekday lunchtime, with a bundle of office workers, tourists and freelancers alike all tucking in to diet Cokes.Is the food any cop? As well as obligatory burgers and posh sarnies, they’re attempting the sharing-plates-thing in a slightly corporate way. You get four for the price of three (now there’s an incentive!): salted cod ‘poppers’ slipped down easily enough, although the roasted aioli was rather bland; gooey smoked ham croquettes bathed in a moreish ‘house’ sauce; a salmon paté was more cream, less fish; and a smoked aubergine paté had depth. A small chicken salad, complete with raw cauliflower, was made tastier by a slice of sourdough.
Is it cheap? We paid £20 for the food: a tenner each. But the daily special comes in at under £6 – on our visit, a croque monsieur that looked hugely filling.
And are the staff friendly? Yes. Pretty keen, actually.
Craft beer tick? Not as many local and London craft breweries as they should, but then this is a Fuller’s pub. Still, you can order Five Points, Sharps, Lagunitas and Blue Moon. Other drinks are, of course, available.
Do say: “They’ve opened the bar out, stripped it back a bit, and it now riffs on nearby boozers like The Grafton and Southampton Arms.”
Don’t say: “A boutique hotel upstairs – really?”