“ 26, Wenlock Rd / London / N1 7TA / Tel: 020 7608 3406 „
I am an old fashioned girl at heart so I like a good old fashioned boozer where beer is the most important thing not the gastropub cuisine or the stylish decor. Luckily I have found a fabulous back street boozer just off City Road in London called the Wenlock Arms and I have fallen head over heels in love with it . I would go as far as to say I would spend every evening in there if I had the time and the money. I am not the only on to think this pub is the bees knees as it has been voted pub of the year in North London by CAMRA quite a few times now, has been Time Out's pub o the year and has an almost permanent slot in the holy bible of real ale drinkers The Good Beer Guide. So what's so great bout the Wenlock Arms you ask?
The Wenlock Arms is a survivor of bygone times. The pub was built in 1836 alongside the Wenlok brewery near the Regent's Canal. It was one of the only buildings to survive the blitz, ugly council estates and finally the trendification of Islington Shoredith and Hoxton. It's also got a wonderful range of ales, beers and ciders and is a real drinker's paradise.
Before you can go n to sample a wonderful range of beers you have to find the Wenlock Arms first and it is not the easiest place to find. Th nearest tube and rail station to it is Old Street but it is not that far from Angel either. From Old Street you need to walk along City Road on the right had side going towards Angel. . You will pass the Eagle on your right and a grotto pub called the Royal Oak on your left. You will see a semi circular road leading to some council flats. Turn into the semi circular road and go straight down until you are on Wenlock Road. You will find the Wenlock Arms opposite some new trendy looking flats. It's easy to spot as it looks like a proper pub think the Rovers return or the Queen Vic. Step inside and enjoy!
Once inside you walk into the single room pub with the old fashioned wooden bar in the middle of the pub.. As I have already mentioned style is not high on the list of priorities at the Wenlock Arms. Some may call it a dive. I call it a bit tatty. I am sure the faded worn paisley carpet has not been replaced since the pub narrowly missed bombing in the Second World War. However that does not matter to me as it is a really cosy, homely pub with a great atmosphere. I have always found the clientèle to be assorted but very friendly. Early on in the evening it is a bit quiet but gets busier as the the evening continues. We were there last Friday and I was glad to get there early to get a seat. There is always a friendly recommendation about which beer to choose and you will need it.
It's all about the beer in the Wenlock Arms. The first thing that you see once you get to the bar is the bewildering number of hand pumps on show. I think there are about eight hand pumps in total selling a wide range of good quality cask ales. I am not sure if there is such thing as a house beer. The selection is truly breathtaking and there is something for every discerning beer drinker. There is a wide rang of brewers from large ones such as Adnans to much smaller ones such as Pitfields. I was able to sample a wheat beer, a mild, a bitter, a golden beer and a porter. How many pus have that variety? They also have a real cider on cask. I had a lovely half of Pitfields 1850 porter and half of Nethergate Mild amongst others. Duskmn tried a Cheddar Gorge cider that looked more like orange juice than your average mass produced cider. They also seem to have lLefmann's kriek permanently on tap. They also do a selection of bottle dbeers including Belgian one such as Chimery.
What I like about the Wenlock Arms is that the beer selection is ever changing. (They are compiling a list of lal the beers they have served on their website so take a look). Real ale does not have chemicals in it so it goes off very quickly Real ale gos stale in three or four days (or more depending on alcohol strength and amount of hops used) once it is open so it is crucial that the cask is fresh. Very few pubs can sell the varietyt the Wenlock does , as they do not sell enough rel ale or do not know how to keep it properly. You need not worry at the Wenlock as casks do not last more than three or four day so each time I visit the selection is almost completely different. So you are not a real ale aficionados I hear you say? The Wenlock does sell a variety of spirits. and all the usual lagers but it wold be sacrilege to drink Stella in the Wenlock Arms.
The other thing I like about the Wenlock is that the prices are not too bad. A half pint is about £1.50 and th pint are about £2.70 (I am not sure as I only ever drink halves there). I am not sure about other drinks either.
Fancy something to eat. The Wenlock serves a very basic selection of very good value pies, pasties and sandwiches all day until 9pm. I tried one of their sandwiches the last time I visited. The prices are very good. They range between £2 and £3.50. I ordered an egg sandwich and I got two hunks of fresh soft white bread with a nice egg filling. There's nothing fancy or pretentious at all about them. You do not get hand cut Parmesan and red onion parsnip kettle chips and a garnish of rocket with them. Nor do you get houmous and roast vegetables or Thai green curry chicken fillings. The fillings are basic and traditional but are good. One of my friends commented that the sausage ones looked like they had half a cow n them.
Friday night is music night. The pub normally has music on in the background, which is usually oldies or indie music. It is stuff I like but it is never too obtrusive. The pub also plays host to regular jazz and blues nights. I was last here on a Friday where the had a 20s style jazz band which was really nice. Like other community pubs there's a full schedule of events including a pub quiz on Thursday and a cricket and football team.
The service on the whole is very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable although I did ask for a recommendation on the beer wen I first walked into the pub last Friday and the barmaid said I don't know. I never drink the stuff. How can you work with such glorious beer and not touch a drop is beyond me. I only have one real quibble with the Wenlock. They really could do with rethinking he colour scheme of the lady's toilets. I said I did not mind what th decor is like but the acid orange tiles and paint is just too much. You really need sunglasses when going to the loo,
The Wenlock Arms is a little bit hard to find but if you are a lover of real ale then try an seek it out. You will be truly rewarded with this marvelous little back street boozer
London N1 7TA
Phone 020 7608 3406
Genuine London Free House, with real ale.