The Barnsbury, N1 1LX

Charles Campion of Evening Standard and Metrolife described this as "the perfect gastropub", and we agree! Three stars meant we had to check it out and we were not disappointed. Difficult to get a table on a Friday night though. Manager told us to either book ahead or hover at bar to bag a table. Cool music, great atmosphere but excellent food. Lots for veggies too.

An anonymous visitor contributed the above. Sounds like a plant to me (great atmosphere but excellent food?), but I've always been suspicious like that. - Earle

It might be easier to like The Barnsbury had it not previously been "Houricans", a lovely old local boozer with knackered wooden benches, sports on the TVs and a generous pool area. It was the sort of place local families and old men went for a pint, and a welcome antidote to the wall-to-wall gastropubs full of braying gimps which seem to typify Islington.

Its replacement is devoid of soul. It's dingy, an air not helped by the use of overly-dark wood everywhere and large tables which actually leave a disappointingly small amount of seating space in the pub as a whole. It's also pretty quiet most of the time - God knows when the person above (if they're genuine) visited. The pub opened with a pathetic display of 6th-form-standard "art" on the walls, which didn't endear it to me any further.

Given that there are two excellent pubs five minutes away, I really wouldn't bother with The Barnsbury, unless both the other pubs are full, or shut, and you're gasping for a beer. Try the award-winning Drapers Arms, N1 1ER if you want a gastro-pub with a bit of comfort and soul, or the Albion, N1 1HW which is spacious, with more of a local feel and truly excellent steak.

-- Hitherto

Last friday actually - it was packed. May have previously been quiet - not now. Earle, don't know what Houricans was like but would not call this place dingy or soulless ! I didn't write the above, get it right. -- Earle

(The above is a comment from the previous anonymous visitor copied from Summary field to body of page by Kake - to stop it getting lost when it fell off the bottom of RecentChanges.)

Well, I have slightly less of a loathing for the place than hitherto does. I've found it more likely to be empty than the other pubs he mentioned, and happily sat in there and hacked on a laptop without too many unpleasant looks. I also can't comment on the food, as I've never eaten there.

On the other hand, a glass of orange juice was about � 1.60, and as mentioned previously, the decor (in particular, the wine-glass chandaliers) leaves something to be desired. (I didn't find it dingy, though). On balance, it's very much a second-choice local pub for me.

-- blech

An anonymous contributor writes (24/10/2005):

This is the worst pub I have ever visited. Warning. Do not go.

You know how it is. You get a text from a friend saying they have just been to see a movie and are having a drink in a pub just around the corner, would you like to join them? You get a call from another friend asking what you're up to that evening so you tell them to meet you in the Barnsbury.

Before you know it a small gathering has become a medium sized gathering of an enormous fifteen or so people, all buying drinks, some even buying bar snacks or chunky chips.

Most pubs would be overjoyed at this level of custom. But not the Barnsbury. "Are you expecting any more guests?" we were asked as if we'd just fouled the carpet. "We don't allow big groups. If you come here again we won't give you a table." Now there were two empty tables next to our group, there was no queue at the door, people weren't banging on the window demanding service, we weren't drinking heavily, shouting, carousing, raping or pillaging in fact some of our group were so crazy they were ordering cups of tea or bottles of overpriced coke because "they were driving!" Outrageous behaviour I hear you all cry.

So what was our crime? "Not ordering food." Apparently, being a "gastropub" they make most of their money from food. Well at �7.50 for two unremarkable drinks I find that a bit hard to swallow. And if complaints about their absurd helpings are anything to go by the food is pretty hard to swallow as well. Now a quiet word in our ear or a polite sign on the door stating that they are a "gastropub" and prefer small groups who don't mind small helpings would have been acceptable, but to take our money and then interrupt and ruin our evening with rude, sniping, abrupt, curt and downright offensive comments is outrageous and I will never drink, eat or even breathe the air in this place again. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!

(Latitude: 51.539476 Longitude: -0.105122)
Last edited 2005-10-25 07:26:51 (version 11; diff). List all versions.