Hemingford Arms, N1 1DF
- Nearby tube stops: Highbury and Islington / Caledonian Road
- Nearby rail: Caledonian Road and Barnsbury (Silverlink North London Line)
- Bus: 153 from Finsbury Park (stops outside pub) City or 17, 259, 91 from Kings X (stop outside Caledonian Rd. Baths then 5 min walk)
The Hemingford Arms
About 8-10 minutes walk from either tube station, though fairly simple to get to, is The Hemingford Arms (It's closer, about 2 minutes uphill, from the train). It's a bit odd in here. Nice odd mind. The kind of pub that you'd go to for a quiet drink. Except on wednesday night when there are loud bluegrass musicians getting drunk and shouting.
Each time I've been here there's been a collection of people down one end of the pub playing the fiddle and banjo and occasionally singing. Quite pleasant music (and importantly not too loud to easily talk over.)
UPDATE: Dec 2004:
The Hemingford is under new management. The staff and atmosphere are less friendly. No more lock-ins. There is also a 'nanocash' cashpoint in the corner which is a really unpleasant addition to the decor. Geneerally the pub has gone downhill in the last two years, but is still a reasonable venue for a drink if you're stuck in barnsbury.
Hmm. Guinness. Best Bitter (London Pride usually available). Strongbow. Stella. Kronenburg. Staropramen. Apparently, Boddingtons. Websters and Flowers IPA too.
The outside of the pub is covered in vines and plant-life which on entering causes the pub to be dark and cosy. The overriding colour-scheme is red, and is complemented by large collection of dark wood furniture. The pub has a large wooden bar that is in a circle in the centre of the pub, surrounded by a collection of small pokey tables that can hold between four and six people. It's a cosy kind of pub which easily gets quite cramped - but not uncomfortably so.
The decor is quite quite odd. The most notable point is the large collection of random items hanging from the ceiling. The walls are covered in old movie posters and advertising. In one corner there's a bookshelf containing out of date books. Check out "Inside Europe Today" (1963) - it's quite funny.
The male toilets are located on the ground floor. They're small and cramped (noticing a theme). Upstairs is roomy and may be hired for a very small fee. Very nice bar staff, and generally fewer wankers than elsewhere in islington.
Recently the place has gained an upstairs, although there's confusion about when it's open - the times seem to depend on a complicated equation involving number of customers, number of staff on hand in the pub, and the precise phase of the moon. There's nice comfy sofas there, as well as larger tables which can comfortably house 8-10 people. Every time I've been there, the place has been practically empty. Very nice, frankly.
Very good vietnamese food can be bought there every evening. It ain't particularly cheap as pub food goes, but you don't tend to feel cheated after your meal.
Wednesday = quiz night fun kicks off on Thursday and Friday with live music and 50-60% chance of a lock-in quiet Saturday and kicks again on Sunday (0% lock in).
You can play the 'guess what's not on the ceiling' game. That's my favorite. The bookshelf in 'hangover square' also contains some unlikely classics.