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Betsy Smith (Bar)

Picture of Betsy Smith in Kilburn, London

77 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn, London, NW6 6HY
Cuisine: Pub
Tel: 020 7624 5793 | Email to Betsy Smith | Transport: Kilburn Park | Write review

Betsy Smith Review

Best for: Escaping; playing; reminiscing about childhood; getting drunk.

Great: Cocktails; décor; badgers; scratch & sniff walls.

The essence of childhood is playtime; being enveloped in a world of make-believe; listening intently to fairytales and trusting that somewhere out there, that world really does exist; imps and pixies do live underneath toadstools in the woods and animals do wear tweed and converse with each other.

Then childhood ends. The things that you wholeheartedly believed in are forgotten, and life becomes more serious and inevitably more boring.

What would you give for that innocence again? To be in a world where everything is fun once more? To take a trip to wonderland for one night only? Well, ponder no more, I’ve found a place that you can visit again and again, regressing back to the days before spreadsheets, council tax and wrinkles.

All you’ve got to do is make your way to Kilburn, just like I did on a drizzly grey day.

With the likes of Primark and Greggs as its neighbours, The Betsy Smith looks like any other rabbit (watering) hole from the outside but inside is a completely different story. That’s the beauty of it; to most it’s just another pub on a dreary high street, but those who dare to venture inside unlock their very own secret.

Welcome to ‘Becky in Wonderland.’

In through the seemingly normal door and I immediately wondered who laughed their way up to the ceiling in true Mary Poppins style; a chair is up there and surrounding it are pink flamingos pecking at the ceiling. Lewis Carroll would love it.
We ventured further inside and discovered more and more to tickle the senses. It’s more serious than Tumble Tots here. In place of the soft, bouncy foam cubes, there’s lots of hard stuff (alcoholic form) to bounce off.

The imposing floor-to-ceiling area where potions are lovingly mixed and served is a hive of activity as a spoonful of this and a sprinkle of that culminate in wondrous cocktails. Served in a jar, a Willy’s Wonka for me (think dib dabs, candy necklaces and push pops but with a whole lot of alcohol). It felt naughty to be drinking at Tumble Tots.

Avoiding a huge chandelier made of lampshades – probably the last cut and stick session but on a larger scale - we moved to the back where the real magic begins. Each section has a name to correspond to the feature. So, to The Aviary, a myriad of bird cages surrounding a tall, circular, boothed area with mirrors and a touchy feely wallpaper that imitates the bars of a cage.

The Burrow is one for the Sylvanian Family collector in you. A family of badgers, suited and booted, dominate the wall and the chairs in the den.

For those who want to shout ‘I’m the king of the castle and you’re a dirty rascal’ there’s the Mezzanine floor, home to, the best part, scratch and sniff wallpaper!

I was one of those kids who never wanted to come in from playtime when dinner was ready, but it was time.

Dinner wasn’t a jabberwocky affair that you would expect from the incredibly outfitted room. The huge plate of Bruschetta to start, served on crispy ciabatta, was OK but overpowered with garlic and for my friend, lashings and lashings of calamari and courgette smothered in tempura batter, usually a light affair but these stodgy little critters had got the better of the batter and were thick and tasteless.

The sizes of the starters were enough to feed a big mean ogre. Already struggling, we marched on towards main course with our knives and forks ready for battle.

A gargantuan portion of pasta was up next for me, like a pond of slimy brown seaweed, what promised to be a porcini mushroom and goats cheese Tagliatelli was more like something from Brothers Grimm; overcooked pasta in a brown sauce with no evidence of that tangy cheese. Please sir, I DON’T want anymore.

For my fellow friend came a pan-fried salmon steak, it was faultless but still far too much to eat in one sitting. It would seem that quantity over quality is the name of the game at dinnertime as there certainly wasn’t room for dessert, every big kid’s favourite course!

The best thing about dinner was being allowed to leave the table and get back to the boozer wonderland and my favourite area: The Wardrobe. Inspired by Narnia, no less, this secluded retreat is great for whiling away the hours, playing dress up with the tiger, donkey and fox, or looking out for playmates in the cleverly positioned mirrors. Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the hot guy over there? more

Customer Reviews for Betsy Smith

Average (based on 6 votes): 6 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 Betsy Smith.

“Great find in Kilburn, well worth the long tube journey. Drinks are great and could spend all day in there exploring!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Lucy, London (10 years 1 months 26 days ago)

“As the venue is at the end of my road I popped in to investigate on a thursday evening. Fab decor, delicious cocktails (not the cheapest, but certainly plenty of kick) and a friendly atmosphere. Fell in love with the place so booked a table for the saturday for dinner with 6 mates. Food was good quality, generous portions and good price. Table service was excellent when we arrived at 7pm but by 9pm when the bar filled up they were clearly understaffed. Think these are teething problems as it's only been open 4 weeks. If they sort the staffing during busy periods (table and number of bar staff) then this will be a gem of a place. Much better than the Black Lion or the Westbury - loved the mix of indie and electronic 80's with a bit of Hendrix and Bowie thrown in. Friendly crowd and plenty of seats outside for smokers.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Heather, Kilburn (10 years 6 months 13 days ago)

“I popped into this venue the other day for a business lunch and was really impressed. Despite the fact that it was really rather busy, the atmosphere was perfect, bustling but not too loud. The service was quick and with a smile and our food was delicious. I had a pizza which was only £5 [on a special lunchtime deal], enourmous and cooked to perfction. I will most certainly be visiting this fantastic addition to Kilburn High Road again”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Ben, Kilburn (10 years 6 months 21 days ago)

Show all user reviews for Betsy Smith

“The venue is beautiful. I found the staff to be caring, friendly and considerate without being intrusive. And the food and drinks as good as you can find on the High Road (which has come up a long way in the last few years). I loved it and would happily recommend it. The background music was great and it was also a lot easier to chat in as the acoustics are great - much better than other destination pubs like the Black Lion and Westbury.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Chana Rachel, kilburn (10 years 7 months 12 days ago)

“Found this new venue yesterday and thought it was absolutely stunning, the new design is beautiful and unlike anywhere I have seen before. It has an entire wall made of real plants and a giant wardrobe seating area among many other cool features. I found the staff to be extremely polite and helpful, we were welcomed into the bar and were given table service as soon as we sat down. We decided to try out the food so I had a Full English breakfast, it was a pretty good size and really tasty. My friend had a pizza with parma ham, Parmesan and mushrooms, which was huge [she had to take the rest home with her as she couldn't finish it all!] and my partner had the Betsy Burger which was with avocado and bacon...we all enjoyed it thoroughly and the pizzas are only a fiver every lunchtime [I think this is an introductory offer]. Drinks were great, good selection of beers for my other half and my friend and I tried a couple of the Cocktails. They have the most unusual cocktails, one of them has Hibiscus flowers in it and another one with Honey Parsnip would you believe. I wasn't quite daring enough to try the parsnip one but I gave the Hibiscus cocktail a try and it was so delicious. My friend tried the Bright Eyes cocktail which was passion fruit, apple and Bison grass vodka...really really refreshing...went down a little too easy I think!I would definitely recommend this place to anyone who is in the area!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Claire, London (10 years 7 months 12 days ago)

“This place looks good but the cocktails were poor, it was expensive, the staff were rude and it took absolutely ages to get served (literally 40 minutes at times, with the staff often choosing to serve their mates first even if they weren't next in line). And instead of doing anything to reduce the queues, the staff were more interested in posing for photos together in their silly pseudo-victorian costumes. This place's vague Alice-in-Wonderland theme is a decent gimmick, but I cannot abide rudeness and poor/slow service when I am giving a bar my custom. I will never visit this place again, and would strongly recommend against anyone else doing so.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
John, London (10 years 7 months 13 days ago)

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