“ Address: The Cavalier, 67 Russell Lane, London N20 0BB „
I've lived in London for four years but only had a car for the past year. Last Sunday we had a day without plans so decided to go for a drive and explore some of North London. All that driving made us hungry so we decided to look out for somewhere to eat. It was the most beautiful day so we wanted to be outside so we kept our eye out for a pub with a beer garden! As we were driving from Southgate towards Whetstone we stumbled across The Cavalier, a large pub which seemed to have a beer garden out the back. Their car park was really big and only about half full so we pulled in and parked up. My partner went straight in to get us a drink while I went to get a table in the garden.
=== The beer garden ===
The beer garden was huge with around 10 wooden picnic benches on the grass and another eight or so tables on the patio. I went for a picnic table right in the centre for maximum sun exposure trying to make the most of the nice weather! The garden was really nice and well maintained with lots of space between tables and I liked the way they were angled differently so it didn't seem like we were sitting in rows or too close to other people. It actually looked like it could be someone's garden! Over on the patio area the tables were mostly quite small with the largest seating just four. These tables had individual chairs and were shaded by large parasols. There were also patio heaters although on what felt like the hottest day of the year, none of these were on! The whole outside area was surrounded by trees and for the outskirts of London I was pleasantly surprised that I felt like I was back in the country!
=== Food and drink ===
My partner went in to the bar and bought the first round of drinks while I sat outside making the most of the sun! Nothing really surprises me price-wise in London these days so when a pint of Diet Coke and a pint of lemonade came to £5.50 I barely blinked. However, this is a lot of money and bearing in mind that the ice melted into my lemonade within seconds making it taste like water, it wasn't worth it. I got the next round in when I went in to order our food inside at the bar. I ordered a half pint of Diet Coke (a £1.75 bargain!) and just got a jug of water for the table which they were fine with.
When it came to food, it didn't help that the other half brought out the wrong menu of bar snacks and sandwiches which I was all excited about until I realised that the Sunday menu was a different feast altogether. So, Sunday menu in hand I had the option of about 12 main meals which I didn't fancy because what I really wanted was a hot beef sandwich with chips!
We were never going to have a starter because even I think that's too much for lunch time! However, there were a few options including Soup of the Day at £4.00, Honey Glazed Spare Ribs at £5.25, Grilled King Scallops at £7.25 and Grilled Halloumi Salad at £5.50. On any other day the main courses would have appealed to me and I've listed some of them below along with their prices, which I thought were reasonable.
- Sunday roast (beef or lamb) served with a Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and creamed leeks and red onion gravy. £9.75
- Ale Battered Haddock & Hand-Cut Fries with mushy peas. £9.25
- Gammon served with egg and chips. £10.75
- Cavalier Burger with cheese and bacon served with chips. £9.00
- Rack of lamb with herb new potatoes and ratatouille. £14.00
- Grilled sea bream fillet on a vine tomato, black olive & parsley linguini topped with a sauce vierge. £12.75
However, on this particular day, as I've said, I really fancied a beef sandwich and I wasn't enthused by the other things offered to me. Either way I went inside to the bar and ordered the beef roast dinner as it was the closest to what I fancied! The other half went for the gammon. The meals were brought out to us after around 20 minutes which I thought was reasonable. Any longer I get irritable and any less I worry that the food has been cooked since early that morning! When they came I couldn't help but laugh because while my roast looked huge and impressive, his gammon looked rubbish! They had attempted to serve it nicely in a bowl with the chips at the bottom, gammon on them with the egg over the top but unfortunately it looked cheap and not even as good as I could make at home! The gammon itself was thick but was mainly made up of fat and the chips looked greasy and undercooked! The giant egg on the top of the gammon looked nice but that's hardly the point of the meal! Apparently it tasted better than it looked. Despite the fact that the chips didn't look wonderful, he said that they tasted pretty good and liked that they were definitely homemade. The gammon was cooked well but it did have a lot of fat on it. It was very greasy which I think was the reason that the chips ended up greasy too. He said it was average at best and he's not a fussy eater at all! He would eat it again if he was hungry but wouldn't choose it from a menu.
As for my meal, it looked fantastic. There was SO much beef, slices and slices of lovely thick meat served with 4 roast potatoes, lots of vegetables, creamed leeks and a nice Yorkshire pudding on the top. The only problem... it wasn't hot. I'm not the type to care if it's still hot but clearly has been sat out for a couple of minutes on the side, but this was hardly even warm. The beef I could cope with, it was lovely and tender and I often eat beef cold anyway. However, the creamed leeks where barely edible - the skin had formed on the now-cold cheesy sauce and don't get me started on the clearly reheated-but not quite enough 'roasted vegetables'. They were almost rock solid! I reckon they had been reheated 5 times through the day! Some were burnt, some were chewy. Eww! The broccoli tasted like it hadn't been cooked at all so that got left on the side too. The potatoes were actually quite hot so even though they had probably been through the same process as the rest of the veggies, I ate them along with the beef. The Yorkshire pudding was cold and chewy but I gave that the benefit of the doubt and ate it too! We were in such a good mood that day with the beautiful weather than neither of us were in the mood to complain. If the vegetables had been okay and the rest of it inedible I would have taken it back but the meat was the main part and there was enough to fill me up! Luckily we had already paid when we ordered so we didn't have any embarrassment of them seeing my plate, we just ran to the car!
Desserts looked quite nice from what we saw on other people's tables, but after the mains we decide we'd had quite enough of the food from The Cavalier! They had all the usual pub desserts including my favourite Sticky Toffee Pudding, Rhubarb and Apple Crumble and Vanilla Cheesecake which were all around the £5 mark. I did note the absence of anything chocolatey on the dessert menu and can't think for the life of me think why that would be!
=== Other things ===
The staff at the pub were very friendly especially the young girl behind the bar who was telling me about the area and talking me through the different menus and offers they have each night. Even though we had to order at the bar, the waiters brought the food to the table and were happy to take drink orders while they were there.
As I mentioned, The Cavalier has a range of offers throughout the week. On Sundays they offer a 'Kids Eat Free' deal when you buy a main meal. Monday night is quiz night and on Tuesdays you can get a free bottle of wine when you eat from the main restaurant menu. There is also 2 for 1 on Fish and Chips on a Friday.
I should probably mention the interior of the pub even though we didn't sit in. It was warm and inviting with good tables and furniture, although I was surprised at how spacious it was and how few tables there were inside. There were some comfortable sofas to relax on as well as tables with ordinary wooden chairs around for dining.
=== Location ===
As I said, the pub is located somewhere between Southgate and Whetstone in a nice residential green area of north London. It is not particularly close to a tube or train station but probably within 25 minutes walk of Totteridge and Whetstone Underground and Oakleigh Park Rail Station. Unless you live within walking distance, driving would be the best way to get to the pub and unlike many places in London, there is plenty of parking space.
The contact details are below.
67 Russell Lane
London N20 0BB
020 8368 2708
=== Overall ===
Obviously my overriding thoughts of The Cavalier are with the food which for me was pretty rubbish. I'm not fussy when it comes to food - I eat a lot, and I know that most people would have sent that food back. Firstly, I hate upsetting people and remember in my teens working as a waitress and I was always so upset when people complained! Secondly, the girl behind the bar was so nice that I didn't want to sound nasty and thirdly, it was such a beautiful day that I just didn't want to ruin it by complaining! Don't get me wrong, if I had gone out for a sit down meal and my food had come that way it would have been straight back in the kitchen, but we were at the pub more to sit out in the sun than too eat as we had only eaten breakfast an hour earlier!
Even though I would not even consider this establishment for food again, I would happily go back for a drink in their lovely garden! For food, I couldn't give this more than 2 stars on the evidence, however I'm more than happy to raise it to 3 stars because for a nice drink either with friends, as a couple or a family with young kids, it's pretty perfect.