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The Harringay Arms (Bar)

Picture of The Harringay Arms in Crouch End, London

153 Crouch Hill, Crouch End, London, N8 9QH
Cuisine: Pub
Tel: 020 8340 4243 | Email to The Harringay Arms | Transport: Archway | Write review

The Harringay Arms Review

Best for: Being in a pub and a cafe which both feel like home.

Great: Ales; cocoa; and stone-baked pizzas.

The Harringay Arms appeared to have pulled the short straw when my editor sent me along to check out the north London pub on a February night. It was bitterly cold. Some Siberian winds had decided to sweep down Crouch Hill just as I decided that I’d feel more like I’d earned my beverage at the pub if I’d been for a brisk walk up that hill beforehand. In reality, I just had very cold toes and was mildly grumpy.

Secondly I have always been a south Londoner. Yes I recognise the merits of groovy Angel and picturesque Hampstead Heath but would I ever really take the trouble to trek all the way to a boozer in north London if I wasn’t doing the Fluid London night shift, especially when it happens to be brass monkeys outside?

Well, actually, yes because The Harringay Arms just happens to be one of the most charming pubs I’ve visited in recent times.

It is two experiences in one: as you stand facing the building you have a more traditional wood-panelled pub on the left and the endearingly titled ‘Rambling Rose Cafe’ on the right. They are both literally one intimate room but each is packed with the character of two palaces and plastered with achingly cool movie posters (I found out this is because one of the owners is an actor and appreciates why advertising Rocky is clearly better in black and white). You don’t have to be from north London to appreciate coolness when it’s staring right at you.

The chilly evening meant I made the pub my base and, letting my eyes wander at the cosy table I had picked with my companion, I also saw more posters featuring gigs the likes of which you’d wish you’d been able to go to – Bob Dylan in his prime, for example – as well signed LPs, historic maps of the area and documents telling the story of the pub.

This pub has been serving beer since the nineteenth century so there was no shortage of stories to tell. There was even a CD jukebox and somebody seemed to keep punching in the numbers which brought up The Doors. My grumpiness began to ebb away as I tapped my toes to the brooding voice of Jim Morrison.

I chatted to one of the owners, Ben, and he told me they had tried to make the place the kind of pub where they would choose to go. It sounds simple enough but it’s a darned good place to start. I started to try and work out what he meant, bearing in mind that when I’m in a south London mood I get impatient for a bit of quality.

Good selection of ales? Check, thanks to Courage Best, Adnams Broadside and Doom Bar.

Food OK? It sure was, thanks to a strong range of inexpensive stone-baked pizzas; both the cured ham and the goat’s cheese they put on top showed that, in this place, ingredients matter. They were right up there with the best of what you can get in London for a fiver. I also noticed that they do a good range of baguettes and bagels.

Did it have the kind of ‘vibe’ a good pub should have? Check again, thanks to an excellently pub-compatible terrier that sashayed between tables offering quizzical and yet also slightly mournful looks at anyone eating pizza, hoping to get a morsel or two.

The locals were also friendly, having the good heart to come to the aid of a clueless south Londoner and point the way to the toilet. There was a good buzz of chatter all evening long, and I heard snippets of conversation ranging from the future of the liberal economic system to the popularity of Dire Straits when the punter in question was at university. I started to feel pangs of envy for those who live in Crouch End.

The service wasn’t always the quickest but it didn’t matter one jot because the lady at the bar was delightful and the Harringay Arms is indubitably the kind of pub you come to in order to slow the pace of London life, not quicken it.

As if my cold bones and south London prejudices weren’t enough, I was also struggling with a sore throat. Yet once again the Harringay Arms pub was able to come to my rescue, serving up a glass of Ecuadorian cocoa, which was simply out of this world. It doesn’t come any better than melting discs of pure chocolate and warm milk, and it made me realise I may never be able to accept the powdered variety again.

When it was time to face the cold air again my throat was warmed with cocoa, my belly was warmed with pizza, and my soul was warmed by good times. I sloped back to south London somewhat dejectedly. Make sure you enjoy this little gem of a pub/café when you’re next in this neck of the woods: North London 1, South London 0.
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Customer Reviews for The Harringay Arms

Average (based on 4 votes): 4 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of The Harringay Arms.

“I only go in there for the cheap booze and even cheaper men.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Sally, London (11 years 5 months 11 days ago)

“The Harringay Arms has to be my favourite pub in Crouch End and probably even London. As Maxi rightly mentions the décor is simply out of this world, and from an era well before my time. The beer is always of the highest quality and the service is consistent. Most of the locals are in day in, day out (Not sure how I know that) which simply ensures there’s always fresh beer in the taps. There’s no music but the key sports games are often on a small TV in the background. There are plenty of canines in the pub to help you finish the last of your pork scratchings or Scampi Fries. Well worth a visit to one of the last bastions of the traditional English boozer.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Frank, Crouch End (11 years 9 months 3 days ago)

“If you have not been here you are missing out. This has to be the best pub in North London, the interior is 70’s medieval revival and a lot of the clientele have probably been there since then too, but that merely adds character to what is in the small minority these days, a proper pub. You’ll always receive a warm welcome and a great pint, which also seems to be a rarity these days. For the hungry among you the bar stocks all the old favourites; Pepperami, pork scratchings etc, and for the more adventurous diner there is always a choice of finger rolls. Music is not played, which adds the extra dimension of being able to talk to more than one person at a time. In the summer it boasts a bijou beer garden. It is affectionately known by the cognoscenti as “the office”.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Maxi, London (11 years 9 months 3 days ago)

Show all user reviews for The Harringay Arms

“If you have not been here you are missing out. This has to be the best pub in North London, the interior is 70’s medieval revival and a lot of the clientele have probably been there since then too, but that merely adds character to what is in the small minority these days; a proper pub. You’ll always receive a warm welcome and a great pint, which also seems to be a rarity these days. For the hungry among you the bar stocks all the old favourites; pepperami, pork scratchings etc, and for the more adventurous dinner there is always a choice of finger rolls. Music is not played, which adds the extra dimension of being able to talk to more than one person at a time. In the summer it boasts a bijou beer garden. It is affectionately known by the cognoscenti as “the office”.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Maxi, London (11 years 9 months 4 days ago)

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