Pub Science Experiment #1

Pub 5: The Railway Tavern, Crouch End Hill, N8

Category: Railway

First things first: this Railway is not near a railway. There was a railway around here once, but it’s long gone.

The next thing I should say is that I don’t like it around here. I have many dear friends who have freely chosen to live in this area, so it can’t be all bad, but it never fails to annoy or upset me somehow. My sense of Crouch End’s unjustifiable pleased-with-itself-ness was close to boiling over when, while waiting for my companions to turn up, I simultaneously saw the pile of smug little N8 magazines at the end of the bar and heard a braying berk going on about how he had the misfortune to go to the same party as “some South London yobbo.”

So perhaps my view of this Railway was coloured unfairly. It seems OK, the beer was alright and the staff friendly enough, especially the fellow who proves that Ted Bovis lives. The space is divided into three semi-separate rooms and, with the odd hint of half-timbering and wood panelling, this feels like nothing more than a pub in a Hertfordshire suburb / commuter town which, unawares, has had London creep up and surround it. And I suppose that’s just what it is.

It’s OK, then, it gets right most of the things required to be a decent functioning pub. But there are some very clear wrongs, too:

– WRONG! The place is uncomfortably warm. It’s a chilly night but it’s nasty just standing in here, and the heat exacerbates the smokiness of the place.
– WRONG! The top room has been sacrificed to the pool table, creating an awkward space which is tricky to use.
– WRONG! There’s seating around the edges of each of the rooms, arranged to allow everyone a view of one of the several screens showing the football. Unfortunately the middles of the two non-pool rooms have yawning spaces in which it’s uncomfortable to stand. And if you do decide to stand you’re very conscious that you’re standing in someone else’s sightlines.
– WRONG! The football’s on, it’s half-full of Spurs fans (WRONG in and of itself, you might say, but we’ll let that pass) and Spurs are winning. Still this pub seems almost uniquely mirthless and that’s made worse by the standard-issue Xmas decorations which are hanging about doing their best to festoon. Ultimately, you don’t get the sense that this is a place for having fun.

Look, this is a perfectly sensible and safe pub to visit for a beer, and it’s one I won’t be returning to in a hurry.

Overall mark: (out of 10): 4