So after extensive watching of the refurb, I finally roused myself to wander down to the Shaftesbury. What had bothered me about its refurb was
a) cream walls, wood floor hell!
b) the decking out front
c) removal of televisions
d) seeming absence of punters.

Well on a nice spring day like yesterday, all of these innovations made sense. It was a nice, light, cool airy pub, the equivalent of wearing a linen jacket. The decking was good coupled with its picnic tables and frankly if you were not in the pub by 1:30 you had no chance outside. But the main revelation was that the pub now did a mean pint of Sussex (a favoured ale of mine) which I found thoroughly unexpected. A good, but cheap, pub menu (with hundreds of endearing typos*) improved things no end. What with the Kings Head suddenly doing interesting beers, and the Shaftesbury refurb not being the washout I expected, Crouch End pubs are looking up.

*Highlight being the John Dory served with a sauce made of smoked prawns nad.