sharing news and views from Crouch End and Hornsey
I'm somewhat gobsmacked that there were no issues raised.
When All Bar One (the chain, not specific Crouch End bar) was conceived probably nearing 18 years ago now, the marketing behind it was to create a bar where a woman could enter alone, order a drink and sit in surroundings where she wouldn't feel intimidated.
The bars were to be totally open fronted with large windows so she could vet the clientele before entering, eliminating the discomfort of sitting in an enclosed space on her own and being subject to unwelcome attention.
The Wetherspoons I have visited, on very rare occasion, seem to replicate an old man's front room, all dark wood and wing chairs clustered round pub tables, creating a very traditional atmosphere.
To transplant that aesthetique into what is practically a shop front with its floor to ceiling windows, looks bizarre to say the least. It gives a sort of breaking the fourth wall peek into a very busy old man's parlour. I'm sure that its setting is as peculiar to those inside as it is to me looking in. If I enjoyed the atmosphere of an old man's parlour, I'd feel all wrong if I had the world walking past my face as I sank into my first pint of the morning.
I don't drink at the Devonshire Arms, can't see myself ever drinking there and don't yet know anyone else who has drunk there, so wondered what anyone else thought?
I was extremely happy to hear that a JD Wetherspoons pub would be opening in Crouch End, and my joy increased immensely when I heard it would replace All Bar One.
I'm a member of CAMRA and enjoy real ales. I also prefer paying reasonable rather than unreasonable prices for drinks, and having a rolling variety of beers and ciders from UK breweries and beyond - unlike the static fayre of the likes of ABO. JDWs also have regular 'festivals' of wines, beers and ciders, offering customers something potentially new every time they visit.
We're very happy to take our children to JDWs not only because the food is pretty good (and health concerns appear to be important to JDW), but because they offer a comfortable, welcoming enviroment for both young and old - not the clinical, dispassionate style of ABO, which is more suited to the city, than town or village. Granted, JDWs do make attractive, long-term resting places for the older members of society, but to my mind, that's good for the community.
The very diversity of interior and exterior design from one JDW to another is also refreshing to me - especially in a world driven (I would say stifled) by branding. This said, the Devonshire Arms is not in my top-ten pub interiors, but that doesn't matter - it's still offering an attractive, varied interior with some local memorabilia thrown in.
I've never been aware of any gender-specific design considerations, but I think Crouch End Cupcake is forgetting just how dark and subdued the interior of ABO was, how the frontage was of tinted glass, and how the refectory style seating arrangement adjacent to the bar all conspired to make it virtually impossible to see inside. In fact I'd attribute the general lack of custom to this fact, and always wondered how long it would survive - and then it closed - ipso facto?
I also didn't like the way ABO used piped music endlessly, and I could never understand how an ABO only had to have a handful of customers, to create an almighty din with their conversation - were those exposed air-con pipings perhaps doing more than just pushing air around? For me, the background hum of conversation or simple quietness in Wetherspoons across the country, is ideal.
At the end of the day, the numbers speak for themselves - the Devonshire Arms is thriving....
My husband, (teenage) children and I like Wetherspoons and were happy when one opened up in Crouch End. Whilst I agree the decor is certainly from to a bygone era ('50s I'd say), and it does attract older people, partly because of the decor, but maybe for the same reason it attracts us - good, cheap real ales and wines, good value traditional pub food (plus very tasty curries with all the trimmings), cosy, comfortable environment (I personally don't like the cold, hard furnishings of, for example, All Bar One) no irritating music, no television sound, so you can enjoy a family conversation in peace. So there are some Crouch Enders (not old men) who appreciate and frequent the new Wetherspoons.
I see I shall have to actually step inside then and sample the ambience.
My sympathies were more for the majority clientele that seem to frequent the place. When I become raddled and toothless, which some days doesn’t feel very far away, I wouldn’t want Crouch End’s yummy mummies bouncing past me with their Bugaboos whilst I dribbled into my morning gin. I’d hope to be surrounded by textured walls and etched windows and perhaps the frill of a net curtain to shroud my proclivities from scorning eyes.
Good to hear some support of the pub anyway.
I suppose the real problem lies in putting real pubs back into wine bars. Some time in the 80's when we lost so many traditional style pubs to tinny, characterless wine bars, it's a shame that some planners didn't think to see what they were desecrating. Hence now why we have an old style pub in a new style frontage. I will get used to it though and applaud the return to a traditional style pub without out fabricated din and soulless seating.
A further thought is now because of the smoking ban, these softer interiors won't stink like a years old ashtray. Good for me, good for my children. I might take them there for Sunday lunch on the back of your recommendation though souls at my regular Sunday lunch spot The Salisbury will be appalled by my defection.
You've brought up a key point: the smoking ban has positively transformed the interiors of pubs and bars. Maybe this was why, for the first 19 of my 21 years here, barring a lunchtime pint on the day we moved in, I didn't ever once step over the threshold of the Queen's - and it is literally my local.
Actually, that brings up another point - I'm getting tired of the gastrification of our drinking houses - mostly because the food is over priced and underwhelming, but goes by la-di-da names and descriptions. I'm not advocating lard-injected menus or "Betty's Hotpot" - just sensible prices for sensible food.
Forgive my ignorance. Do you mean the Salisbury on Green Lanes?
Mr Cupcake has bunged me a pony to take my mother here for lunch today, some time after we've knitted
I needed to beg the said funds as whilst drawing money out of the Nationwide in Crouch End yesterday, I forgot to collect the money, so distracted was I by beanhead thoughts. I'm more than a little disappointed that the opportunist behind me didn't alert me to this. Would you have done?