North London's Cultural Guide

So you’ve never been to… The Hawley

In which we take a wry look at neighbourhood favourites old and new

‘It’s quite civilised actually.’ Photo: PR
Name: Hawley Arms

Age: 12. Maybe 13? Christ, we’re too drunk to remember.

Previous incarnation: Most famously, the Winehouse years. Amy would frequent the pub on most given days of the week. Before that it was a legendary biker’s boozer. Most recently it’s the sole surviving building by the huge Hawley Wharf development, which will see the canalside railway arches reborn in all manner of artisan ways.

Hmm. So what goes on there now? It’s quite civilised, actually. On a weekday evening there’s a lively mix of office workers, stray Britpoppers and tourists. And on our Friday lunchtime visit there were resting Camden Market visitors, pint-supping colleagues scoffing fish and chips, and the odd older bloke nursing a Guinness. The secret back courtyard is where the hipsters and smokers hang out.


And what about upstairs? Surprisingly attractive, with more of a dining room vibe, a handy terrace with legendary view over the railway tracks (and Amy graffiti). High ceilings, original wood-panelled walls, sympathetic furniture – there’s not a jot that needs to be done to improve this interior. Which is why it hasn’t been updated in years.

Lamb meatballs. Photo: Stephen Emms
Is the food any cop? Better than you might think – but not worth a special journey. A pan-fried salmon fillet was prettily arranged over fennel, radish and crushed new potatoes; while lamb meatballs, a tad dry, snuggled up against couscous studded with courgette, red onion and peppers. We’d have liked more of a small pot of harissa yoghurt. Most surpising are the informed wine recommendations for each dish.

So what should I eat? Lean towards bar snacks: Scotch eggs, sausage rolls. We felt the mains were borderline pricey for lunch (eg £14 for the salmon). Why not install a budget set lunch menu for locals and people who work nearby? That way we’d come back.

What’s the service like? Nice. Friendly and smiley, with a wait just a tad too long for the food (we were eeking our drinks out to last).

And are the staff friendly? Not bad, especially for Camden.

Craft beer tick? Hells, yes. Meantime, yes. Not much else.

Do say: “Meet me for a quiet mid-afternoon pint.”

Don’t say: “I’ll book a special three-course dinner, darling.”

Open daily, 2 Castlehaven Road NW1

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