No big walks last week due to a gammy leg, but by Sunday afternoon I was up for a proper stretch. Mrs RM had chosen Mansfield over Camden the day before, so it only seemed fair to give North West London another chance to impress.
London’s micro-climate meant ideal conditions for an aimless ramble north of King’s Cross, and I reckoned I could just about conclude my visits to all the Beer Guide pubs in North London. The fact I failed was due more to the unexpected calling of an old favourite or two along the way to Highgate, but I did at least get to my 15 miles for the day.
Tourism around Kings Cross on a Sunday night would have only meant one thing 20 years ago, and it wouldn’t have been an appreciation of the new and old architectural gems of Pancras Square and Old Church.
The backstreets of central Camden bring me back to a grimmer reality, but the unpromising exterior of Our Black Heart hides a buzzy but friendly pub with a good mix of cask and keg. Actually most of the cask seems to be cider, but Big Smoke Mothership is a lovely, if slightly uncooled, amber beer (NBSS 3), even if at 5.5% it’s a particularly bad way to start. Worth a trip just for the gig posters and a decent music venue as well.
I haven’t been to Camden (and beyond) much in recent years, outside the odd gig at Koko and the Roundhouse. There hasn’t been much in the way of new pubs since the Southampton (featured yesterday) , which surprises me a bit given the relentless change a mile east.
Camden looks a bit stuck in the ’90s to me, and that impression isn’t dispelled as I pop across the Canal and in to the Grafton, where a Father Ted quiz is the attraction. Some attractive tiling is no compensation for a lacklustre Taylor Landlord (NBSS 2) at £2.30 a half (and £15 for the roast !).
I’m approaching family Sunday-lunch pub central, but at least the Lion and Unicorn has a good Redemption Big Chief (NBSS 3.5) to compensate for the lack of proper pub seating. A bargain £3 for scratchings here.
After this I lose the plot, distracted by the joyous buzz coming from Camden’s Daughter, and drink a ill-advised Camden Hells (unpasteurised), but do manage to resist the kebabs. No real ale but so what. I then drink a couple of double espressos ahead of the march up Highgate Hill, but they are equally ill-advised.
The Duke’s Head in Highgate is my best new pub of the week, and not just for the quality Moor Revival (NBSS 4) at well under £4 in a STRAIGHT glass. Friendly people and a good mix of drinkers. Deserves it’s plaudits.
I almost fell back to King’s Cross. Some great beer and friendly pubs, even if they don’t call you “Me Duck” like in Mansfield.