The Bald Faced Stag Review
Some folk have a strange knack for spotting unforeseen potential. Everyone thought Sebastian Coe was on the sauce when he first wandered across the wastelands of East London and cried “Glory, our Olympia!”. Again, in 1993 an audit of the diesel supplies was needed after a member of the MacLaren Formula One squad came back from an 8-year olds’ go-karting championship with the name ‘Lewis Hamilton’ scrawled all over a piece of paper. And even Louis Walsh was somehow able to see beyond the ‘five slappers from Huddersfield’ typecast that eventually grew into Girls Aloud.
The publican world is also subject to this kind of visionary voodoo. Realpubs, self-proclaiming “pubs with character”, are reputably the saviours of old men’s drinking establishments.
In days of yore, when men would carry womenfolk over their shoulders and personal hygiene was considered the devil’s work, Finchley’s ‘Bald Faced Slag’ as it was known (links with previous clientele cannot be substantiated) was an old man’s pub. In it’s previous incarnations it’d been a hotel, a speakeasy, a Masonic lodge and a venue for highwaymen buying information about targets in the local area.
Then, during the modern era, Realpubs arrived. And using nothing but a forked stick and a strong sense of inevitibility, they were able to see beyond the Stag that stood before them. They looked at its pool tables, its TVs, and its blinking fruit machines and instead saw grand booths sporting leathers so soft and tanned the authorities were called in to check Cliff Richard’s whereabouts. They saw ornate chandeliers, luxuriously embossed wallpaper and lampshades so large they had their own moons. They saw open-plan kitchens and chairs made for sitting on, not throwing. They saw rustic oak floors, convivial manageresses and jet-powered bathroom hand dryers. They saw affordable modern European indoor AND alfresco (under a sycamore tree) dining. They saw all this and then made it real, as their name suggests.
Now, whilst sipping down a delightful glass of the organic Maris Syrah, it’s easy to feel like you’re in a swanky restaurant. For example, as ramekin-based former sea-dwelling starters go, the crab with gruyere cheese is right up there with the the potted haddock from The Clarence on Balham High Street.
The whole plaice with salsa verde still has its eyeball attached. This means it can watch you as you devour its buttery innards, waiting for the moment you complain so that it can slap you with its tail. Alas, for the eyeball, and the fish that’s attached to it, that moment never comes because all it sees is a face filled with contentment.
Although Realpubs did away with the microwave ovens and stale fetid carpets, they did retain its character and its old man-liness (the calves liver is extremely popular on pensions day). They did this by keeping the focus on conversation, by using old-fashioned dimple pints to serve creamy guest ales and by constructing a ‘snug room’ for intimate exchanges (used by romantics and/or highwaymen).
The only blemishes on the surface of this reinvigorated enterprise are its less than glamourous location and a car park for a rear vista. Nothing a few strategically placed window boxes cant fix though.
It’s not a gastropub, it’s a restaurantavern. Otherwise 8 out of 10....read more
Customer Reviews for The Bald Faced Stag
Average (based on 2 votes): 2 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 Bald Faced Stag.
“I really want to start with the positives because this pub could be so good.
The food was on the whole very good - we had starters, the fish & chips and roast beef and some desserts and were pleased with all.
Unfortunately the service was absolutely shocking. It was 30 minutes after sitting down before our order was taken and some of the drinks were forgotten. The main course didn't arrive for another 45 minutes, which we polished off in 10 mins.
Perhaps foolishly we opted for dessert and although this arrived within 15-20 minutes, we did not manage to pay until 2 and a half hours after arrival. We were constantly ignored, had our orders forgotten and our waiter seemed to be left to manage most of the restaurant by himself while others stood around.
Our complaint to the manager about the service was fobbed off by poor excuses.
Now, I've been in restaurants where they've been busy and things have gone wrong - things happen - but the best places always keep you informed on progress and try to lighten the mood a little. Sadly, the bald faced stag failed miserably in this area.
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Warren Brompton, Hemel Hempstead (7 years 10 months ago)
“Overpriced and average.
Food not value for money at all, they have the write idea but not executed well. Starters over priced, beers beer but still you are paying more than most pubs in the area by far.
I was very disappointed as I had impressed but things seem to have got worse in terms of quality.
The Bald Faced Stag need to look at the food, if they are to remain on of the better gastro pubs in the area.
I would stop for a pint, but now would highly recommend that people dont eat there.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Hotmix6, East Finchley (8 years 20 days ago)
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- Cuisine Type: Gastro
- Dress Code: Not Specified
- Group: Real Pubs
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