Mrs RM is getting the hang of our day trips now. She gets to go to unheralded parts of the country and drink beer, as long as she walks a few miles when we get there. I get to define “a few”, and to cross off a pub or two from my giant Beer Guide spreadsheet.
There’s increasingly slim picking within 90 minutes travel now, having conquered Mansfield, East London and Beavoir recently. The southern part of the Borough of Barnet, however, will allow us to see just how much this part of the capital has changed since we lived in Hitchin. Just as vitally, it will allow us to complete visits to all of North and North-West London Guide 2016 pubs.
We start in North Finchley. I cannot lie, there’s nothing to see, apart from one colourful door and some fish. The suburbs of Edgware, Mill Hill and Finchley are indistinguishable, and seemingly unchanged in 20 years or more. High Barnet at least has Monken Hadley, and had a idiosyncratic football ground until Underhill was abandoned.
The comparison with our walk round E1 is telling. The High Road is full of chain coffee shops, with no sign of the independent dynamism sweeping the East. The one exception is the Bohemia, a spectacularly lavish brew-pub with some decent seating as well as a lot of couches. I don’t mind this in small doses.
The beer range is vast, and I can only hope that late-night trade is justifying the investment in this ex-Antic pub, as there is only the one customer apart from us this lunchtime. That said, Mrs RM enjoys the home-brew pale (NBSS 3), and the barman is friendly. The smell of hops (no idea) is gorgeous.
Excitingly, we then cross the A1 and M1 into the wild North-West of Colindale. My only recollection is of this area is the famous oriental shopping centre, which is obviously now closed. The RAF Museum is the tourist highlight, but that pales against Duxford.
There is a huge amount of attractive looking modern housing, which hopefully will support the Chandos Arms, the new (and only) Beer Guide entry around here. That implies it’s better, or more consistent beer-wise , than the Spoons around the corner.
The Chandos has had a similarly impressive refit, on a more homely scale, to the Bohemia. It impresses me as much as it does Mrs RM, who does the important work of testing a malty looking collection of Caledonian and Gales beers (“nice” = NBSS 2.5), while I admire the room used for acoustic music. A good mix of drinkers here early afternoon is an encouraging sign.
So two good modernised pubs in a very dull area; I commend the local CAMRA branch in identifying them for the Guide. A pub in Edgware would be nice next year.