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Villiers Terrace (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of Villiers Terrace in Crouch End, London

120 Park Road, Hornsey, Crouch End, London, N8 8JP
Cuisine: Gastro Average Price: £45.00
Tel: 020 8245 6827 | Email to Villiers Terrace | Transport: | Write review

Villiers Terrace Review

I've been up to Villiers Terrace, I saw what's a-happening. People rolling 'round on the carpet, biting wool and pulling string. You said people rolled on carpet, but I never thought they'd do those things.

So there you have it. Sort of.

For the benefit of those who aren’t familiar with Villiers, or indeed his Terrace, it was Mr Echo and his Bunnymen that apparently foresaw - and sang about - the whole matter way back in 1980. Only they weren’t entirely accurate.

The Villiers Terrace of today is brand new and shares none of the den-of-iniquity characteristics as mentioned above. On the contrary, it’s new persona is probably more suited to its previous moniker - The Princess Alexandra - as it appears fit for royalty. An ordinary public house is acquired and ambitiously reborn as a restaurant in disguise, so in keeping with London’s current trend.

A noticeable amount of thought has been processed in order to give Villiers Terrace an opulent waft. If it’s not sparkled, gilded, leathered, or exposed - surfaces, not clientele - then Villiers isn’t interested. The walls are a farrago of fads, boldly mixing colours, textures and prints and sullied only by some needlessly busy artwork. The prison cell toilets are also a tad rogue; tiny quarters, dark walls, barred windows up high. Even the toilet roll is positioned at a full arm’s length. Perhaps all this is in order to coerce customers into a swift in-and-out process.

The chap who designed Villiers Terrace had either just got back from a Swedish cabin retreat or had a peculiar fondness for the log lady in Twin Peaks because the bar area is nothing but wood, wood and more wood. There are certain scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean involving Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom that perhaps have qualities more wooden than this, but not much else in the world would top it. Whole swathes of Brazilian rain forests were probably felled in order to create the back bar, the front bar, the bar floor, the bar fire, the bar tables and the sentry duty golden eagle perched on the mantlepiece, staring down with his big, beady wooden eye.

Thankfully, the obsession with timber doesn’t lumber on through the comestible trappings (and nor does the alacritous service). With the food, the owners have clearly piled into their Ford Transit - or Ford Anecdote, for the sake of poetic license - driven down to Camden Town, bundled the head chef of Market restaurant into the back of their vehicle along with a whole host of delicious livestock, and transported all and sundry to suburban seclusion where no discernible tube stations exist within escapable distance. Imprisoned, the chef will see out his remaining days by dishing out lovely sticky toffee pudding after Gloucester old spot pork belly after devilishly good deviled duck liver. Ahhh, what a shame. Oh well, can’t be helped.

Some places go slightly overboard with their starters, thus shooting themselves squarely in the foot as reduced portion sizes would mean room left over for dessert and a second bottle of wine. Villiers is guilty of this. Come forth you toasted bread and piccalilli overloaded by plentiful ham hock terrine. Yes, you are delicious, but you’re light, flavoursome colleague - the Cornish crab linguine - will mitigate this gluttony!

Accordingly, also avoid the heavy meats as mains and scoot over to the pan fried skate with mini capers, samphire, and very, very, very smooth mash. Alternatively, the simple four-ingredient walnut, rocket, Halloumi, and butternut squash salad is appropriately garnished with sage (it being wise to try it, see). Smiling or general conversation are not advised for following completion, though, as toothpicks are a scarcity.

A word to the wise on the desserts: the coconut brûlée is probably the lightest sustenance, despite its mainly cream constitution. It’s diminutive size is comparatively more approachable than the mother lode that is the pavlova; a dessert so monumental it could pass as a main by itself. In fact, skip the mains altogether and go for the crab-pav starter-dessert combo; and save yourself 15 notes in the process.

The fairly uninspiring lager selection and total eradication of draught beers and ciders at Villiers seems odd considering the tendency towards outdoor seating. Meantime’s Pilsner is not an ale. Nor is Old Speckled Hen and Newcastle Brown when served from a bottle. However, what it lacks in bubbles it makes up for in stills. The spirits and cocktail lists are like Easyjet flights - plentiful and cheap - whilst the wine list is heavily occupied by the French with a healthy number of organics to ease tomorrow’s cranium. The pick of the bunch is Italian, however: a summery 2008 Verdicchio, which is as punchy and complex as a maze full of Mike Tysons.

Perhaps Villiers’ key feature is its beer garden. The front terrace is perfect for one thing only: diesel-hued romantic moments spent soaking up the carbon monoxide atmosphere of Park Road and marveling at the glorious vista of the Shell garage across the way. However, if the sun is still rinsing the pallid north London landscape early in the evening, attention should be averted to the unexpectedly expansive rear garden where the view of the W7 bus is thankfully blocked by a shield of cane and where a naked mirrored lady stands safeguarding the odd outdoor furniture. All that’s missing is a fairy light or two.

Make no mistake, Villiers Terrace is a summer venue. And possibly a ladies venue judging by the heavy emphasis on wines, cocktails, and queenly decor. That, and a complete absence of sport, howzat?!
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Customer Reviews for Villiers Terrace

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 Villiers Terrace.

“I love Villiers Terrace. I Read It In Books way back in the 80's. Love the Crocodiles Album Picture on the Wall. So glad The Bunnymen sang about it, I have come from New Zealand and quite unexpectedly I can live it. Brings back fond memories. Recommend to anyone and good they stopped the service charge, I go there with family and friends way more.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Tim Blake, Wairoa, New Zealand (4 years 10 months 13 days ago)

“I absolutely love Villiers Terrace and would eat there every day if life and work didn't get in the way! They serve really tasty grub - way too good for a gastro pub! It is by far the nicest gastro pub in Crouch End with nice decor and the garden is really nice too especially in the summer. The service is worth mentioning as the staff are a nice bunch and look like they enjoy being at work and seem to be well versed in customer service and it makes a big difference.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Sarah-Jane, London (7 years 11 months ago)

“I'm sure this was once a Crouch End old man's pub. Someone must've refurbished it because now it's a completely different venue. The outdoor seating at both front and back are key features for summer drinking. The wine is decent too. As is the menu. A surprise and welcome addition to this North London neighbourhood.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Leigh, Tooting (9 years 2 months ago)

Show all user reviews for Villiers Terrace

“My friend and I ate a delicious meal here one summer evening not so long ago; following two delicious courses inside the pub, we settled in the garden for dessert and one final glass of plonk, surrounded by the happy chatter of equally relaxed punters. As gastropubs go, it's certainly up there in terms of ambience, decor and food. I'd go back in a heartbeat...but still, a few more ales on tap and some fairylights wouldn't go amiss...”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Penny, Muswell Hill (9 years 2 months 11 days ago)

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Food

Head chef, Richard Teague, is passionate about serving the very best ingredients from the very best local producers. With food available from 12pm – 10.30pm daily, his regularly changing menus feature bold, robust dishes excellently executed. Typical choices include English asparagus with deep fried poached egg or stilton, blood orange, beetroot and watercress salad to start.

Updated 23/04/2009

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