153 Crouch Hill, London N8 9QH www.harringayarmscrouchend.co.uk
A cosy local worth shouting about, says our investigator Emma.
A quick glance at the fledgling social media accounts for the newly refurbed and relaunched Harringay Arms in North London indicates a few things. The staff are young, enthusiastic and as hipster as they come north of Stoke Newington. They’re big on humour and fun. And they love dogs, pizza and – there’s really no avoiding the word -‘craft’ beer.
If those are your things to then you already know where to go, but if even the word hipster has you running in the opposite direction, pause a second, don’t judge this pub by its sleeve tattoo just yet.
Crouch End is an area of London somewhat blessed with pubs, most of which are of the gastropub variety: steak, burger, roast on Sunday. Harringay Arms is somewhat different; even with its recent makeover it has something of an old-fashioned boozer feel about it.
The main room, heavy on the wood panelling, is long and narrow, tightly packed around the bar. A second even narrower room on the side, where the pizza oven belts out heat, has what can only be described as modern ironic feel – exposed brickwork, beer kegs as lights, and a touch of random taxidermy, with a piano and decks for live music nights.
There’s a small semi-covered patio area out back, home to only the hardiest of smokers in winter but bound to be heaving in summer since although small, it has the major benefit of not being a set of patio tables situated right next to a main road, as is so often the case with London pub’gardens’.
The afore-mentioned pizza oven is the heart of the menu, everything else is really just an ingredient that could be on a pizza, but without a stone-baked crust. An Italian mamma would be horrified by some of the toppings on offer – smoked salmon, poached eggs, butternut squash- but hey, Italians don’t put pineapple on pizzas either so what do they know?
It makes me feel old to say, but it’s not so long ago when a small boozer of this side would have nothing more substantial to soak up the beers than some salted peanuts and whiskery pork scratchings, so a freshly baked pizza – sauce perhaps a bit too sweet, but with a good thin crust and whatever toppings you like from the DIY menu – is a big step in the right direction.
There’s a truly huge array of beers from near and far, breweries large and small, on offer as well as some good cider and grown up non-alcoholic options, and the staff are knowledgeable enough to talk you through the options without drowning you in brewery jargon.
All in all it’s the staff that really make this place feel like a local, even for someone visiting for the first time, not the easiest of tasks with such a diverse clientele – from new couples on dates, to long established residents having a quiet drink; workmates out for a session and a branch of CAMRA having their regular meeting. It seems everyone’s finding something to like about Crouch End’s newest local.