534 Hornsey Road,
(020) 7272 7950
The ViewLondon Review
The Shaftesbury Tavern is a pleasant Victorian-era pub on Hornsey Road.
The Shaftsbury Tavern had been a somewhat uninspiring local watering hole for many years before a renovation in 2009. Although it is somewhat awkwardly situated halfway between Crouch Hill and Archway on the somewhat quiet Hornsey Road, the recent makeover has done this venue a world of good and it is now a very pleasant (if quiet) place to enjoy a few beers. Really getting back to the pub’s roots, the current décor reflects a classic 19th century inn, with dark-wood furniture, a lovely tiled floor, and walls adorned with old black and white photographs of the local area around the turn of the century. Victorian architraves and mouldings have been lovingly restored, and overall the place has a very easy going and genuine feel. A real highlight is the large back room, which has a delightful open fireplace, a huge skylight, two large leather chesterfields and several leather clad wooden booths, perfect for whiling away the hours with friends of an evening. Another plus is the large terrace at the front, overlooking Elthorne Park, which is ideal for some late afternoon sun in summer.
The bar can be pretty quiet on weeknights, the primary cause being the relatively remote location, but on the plus side this means it is not difficult to find a comfy seat, and service at the bar is always fast. The pub frequently plays host to some good live music, and holds a perpetually popular Monday night quiz. There are also occasional comedy nights, showcasing some up and coming north London talent. Clientele are a very relaxed mix of regulars and ‘walk-ins’ of all ages and persuasions, and can certainly not be accused of rowdiness. Live sport is on offer, but the TV is not particularly intrusive, and you will often find that the commentary has been eschewed for the comprehensive and free juke box. The peaceful atmosphere, friendly staff, and comfortable environment make the Shaftsbury Tavern a great place to hang out - just don’t expect a knees-up.
The kitchen here is very good – certainly better than you may expect – and after chatting to the waiter, it emerges that the pub is run by the same group who own the more illustrious The Swimmer just off Holloway Road, and anyone who has eaten there, should know the delights that are in store at the Shaftsbury Tavern. The menu changes regularly, boasting some more ambitious dishes alongside the more standard fish and chips and burgers (which are presented well and taste delicious). Starters include an appetising duck terrine (£5.50) and a soup of the day, which may be something like a good cream of mushroom, whipped up by the chef from scratch. One of the highlights among the main courses is chicken served with sage butter sauce and potatoes (£12), which is well balanced and perfectly filling. All mains are also pre-empted with a basket of very good breads, served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to whet your appetite.
Two guest ales are offered alongside London Pride and Bass. Hoegaarden, Leffe, two Czech lagers, as well as Guinness and Heineken on draught, and a great range of bottled beers from around the world should keep even the seasoned beer drinker satisfied, while the wine list hosts a broad range in terms of both price and country of origin. If you are really pushing the boat out you can even spend £36 on a 2008 St Emilion.
The Last Word
Although it remains quiet after a loving restoration, the Shaftsbury Tavern is a good place to enjoy a pleasant evening or a relaxed Saturday afternoon with great food and good drinks. If you make the effort to get there, you will probably end up returning.
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