North London's Cultural Guide

A day out in…Crouch End

The N8 enclave makes a lovely weekend mooch, with great options for coffee, lunch, indie shops and boozing

Last month we took the Overground to bustling Harringay Green Lanes for an evening out; this time we alight just west at Crouch Hill and climb the steep incline over into bucolic N8.

It’s a very chilly blue-sky Saturday morning, so we’re glad to take shelter in popular beans-joint Coffee Circus. The slender room is packed to the rafters with microscopic kids screeching, mates catching up and laptop-wielders: against the chaos we perch on two wooden stools by the unlit fireplace and sip a reviving americano.

Cosy and good beans: Coffee Circus. Photos: SE

The main thoroughfare beckons, with its bookshops and indie shops galore. Yet the dominant 1920s Modernist Town Hall is atmospheric but rather forlorn, awaiting its forthcoming transformation into flats, arts centre, hotel and co-working spaces. Currently it boasts a café that – we peak inside – is criminally empty.

We continue down Topsfield Parade on Tottenham Lane, where a dozen food and drink joints are clustered near the Picturehouse cinema. One that tempts us in is the cutely-named Small Beer, a minimal watering hole owned by the Duke’s Head in Highgate (bargain-spotters should note the 2-for-1 pizzas on Saturday lunchtime).


Awaiting its fate: The Town Hall.

Wanting a more sit-down experience, we ponder the best options along the stretch: a set-menu £20 lunch at trad French gaff Aix, with its Michelin stickers, perhaps? Or Scottish-Italian fusion at Irvin Bar & Grill? Or even classic modern Brit scran at Heirloom, where we’ve previously enjoyed Sunday lunch?

The latter is on nearby Park Road, a street that’s an essential stop on any Crouch End tour, with its buzzy mix of art galleries (like Jealous ), eateries and lifestyle stores.

And it’s there that we spot Bar Esteban, a simple but chic tapas den from ex-Moro head chef Joan Ramon Benapres, with mismatched chairs and an appealing window for people-watching.

Small Beer: a must-visit in N8.

Sister to N16’s acclaimed Escocesa, the small plates indeed impress, especially seared tuna with salmorejo, rare Iberican presa with ajo blanco (main pic, above) and octopus with peas puree and tarragon.

After coffee, we spy places to tick off on future visits, including the Crouch End Cellars, a wine bar with cosy back room and garden, and the Harringay Arms – before a digestif at art nouveau landmark pub The Queens, which dates back to 1902.

But that’s it for this trip – we’re out of time and the shiny orange Overground beckons us beyond the hill.

Got a Crouch End tip? Let us know.

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The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.