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The Haverstock Tavern, NW3

94 Haverstock Hill
Phone: 02072670033

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Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Tris C left this review about The Haverstock Tavern

Another week, yet another name.
This place seems unchanged internally save for the décor which is now more contemporary and restrained with predictable colours, yes, in the form of white walls and ceiling, dark grey, pale pinkish grey and pale grey details. The floor's dark boarded and lighting is now provided by hanging Victorian-style lamps. There's a log burning stove, sadly unused on this cold night, being home to a solitary candle which I can tell you provides little heat. Furniture is now fairly standard too with leatherette bench booths and a few standard tall tables with matching chairs. There's an alcove to the rear and a small side room off to the left-hand side. The bar is central and the bar back is fairly bland though this is a big improvement on the stupid scaffold bar back of yore. Otherwise there's little in the way of décor which makes the place appear a little stark, though thankfully there aren't any TVs though these would compete with the piped music which was really a bit too loud for comfort which, combined with the loud sound of chatter, made the place rather noisy and unsettling; lots of hard surfaces don't make for good acoustics. What was also a bit naff was the abundance of Christmas decorations on show, despite not just not being Christmas but not even the month in which Christmas occurs. The crowd as such was certainly young and a group of ladz were trying to outcompete one another as to who could swear the most. Also observed was the gaggle of smokers outside in this residential area, despite the pub having a decent garden; the neighbours must be delighted.
Real ale has made a welcome return here in the form of London Pride (not so welcome, but at least it's not Sharp's Gloom Bore), Yorkshire Brewery's Yorkshire Gold and Siren's Hazy Pale Ale at a fairly reasonable £4.60 a pint but really not on the best form; I'd not have ordered another pint of the stuff.
This place is far from perfect, what with the loud music and blue language, but at least you can get a real pint at a sensible price, especially when you consider that the bellend behind the former Belrose charged £6.00 for a pint of Lagunitas IPA.
I wouldn't avoid this place but it still can't really compete with the neighbouring Steele's or Washington, so I don't envisage a return visit.

On 30th November 2019 - rating: 4
[User has posted 999 recommendations about 984 pubs]

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Tris C left this review about The Belrose

Date of visit: 5th August 2018

The pub’s frontage has gone unchanged since its last incarnation and still features some attractive etched glass. There are lanterns to the top of the ground floor, but these are switched off at night which gives the impression that the pub’s closed when viewed from a distance.
Internally, much has changed since the last ghastly incarnation: the daft booths have gone along with the cheap wood and ply chairs; the icky fake copper birch-effect wallpaper has been stripped away. Gone too are the ridiculous lanterns which resembled enormous copper doughnuts. The apparent on-site microbrewery has also disappeared. Instead, there’s now much fairly conventional furniture with a couple of long chunky tables with benches and a sole high circular marble-topped table with a couple of matching chairs. From the ceiling hang some sensible spherical white opaque lanterns. The colour scheme is utterly predictable, being part pale grey and part smoky blue. The bar front is probably original and is bow fronted and leading up to it is an attractive boarded floor. The modern bar back seems to have been retained from previous incarnations being modern mirrored with a tubular steel bottle shelf. A side door leads out to a tiered and decked garden and to the left-hand side of the pub is a small room which seems to be reserved for dining, despite food being consumed from anywhere within the pub. To the right-hand rear, there’s now an open kitchen dishing out pizza which pubs love because it’s filling, dirt cheap to make yet commands a very high mark-up for what is in effect a large circular piece of cheese on toast. Music played over the gramophone, but it was a tad too loud. On a more interesting note, from 1965 to 1974 this pub was called The Noble Art on account of it hosting the Belsize Boxing Gym, visited by none other than Muhammad Ali.
Ales: none. Two staple-shaped chrome founts dispensing a smörgåsbord of premium lagers, Guinness and Lagunitas IPA at an utterly insulting £6.00 a pint.
Despite the inexplicable name, this pub may be an improvement over its predecessor but it’s still not very pubby; a bit soulless. Despite the recent and divisive work inflicted, the Steele’s over the road is still the more pubby of the two, has real ale, a more adventurous menu and a pint is considerably cheaper. However, even if this were a fantastic pub, there’s absolutely no way that I’m going to get ripped off £6.00 a pint and in a part of NW3 that’s not that affluent, so a return visit is absolutely off the cards. Indeed, the gold Courage cockerel which once straddled the pub’s hanging sign has flown the roost – perhaps he was trying to tell us something.

Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

On 12th June 2019 - rating: 3
[User has posted 999 recommendations about 984 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Steve of N21 left this review about The Load of Hay Tavern

On one of our infrequent visits to the Roundhouse wasn’t intending to revisit this one as we walked up the hill towards the Sir Richard Steele, especially as the pub is still well hidden under cladding and scaffolding. But I noticed that it has changed its name since our last visit and is now branded on the outside as a Craft Beer Bar & Kitchen with Microbrewery on-site, so decided to venture in and have a look.
It’s certainly changed a lot since our last visit and is now a lot more proper pub than Gastro restaurant we encountered previously, as mentioned in the recent reviews below. The proper bar area now supports a much better range of drink offerings and although there was also only two Ales on for our visit and both of these were from Windsor and Eton, the line of keg taps had at least six modern Craft beer offerings including Goose Island IPA, W&E Uprising Treason West Coast IPA, Camden Pale Ale and Keg versions of Redemption Big Chief and Wild Card brewery Jack of Clubs. So in this respect the beer offerings have certainly improved greatly since the last time I was in.
However there was no sign of the Haverstock brewery on the bar and when I questioned the barman he had very little knowledge of it and thought it wasn’t functioning downstairs, so the branding of Craft Beer Bar & Kitchen with Microbrewery is stretching the reality a bit.
But I quite liked the black leatherette studded booths and the canteen trestle tables in the rest of the main room of the pub is still an improvement on the reclaimed skip crap they had last time.

On 9th January 2017 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1712 recommendations about 1661 pubs]

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john gray left this review about The Load of Hay Tavern

Scaffolding clad outside so unable to see the frontage and the interior was a bit dull as mentioned in previous review.I was here for the Haverstock brewery beer brewed in the basement and the brewer gave me a little tour of his set up.Nice.So was the beer Paley Mcpaleface.Think there was 4 beers on and a few decent craft keg options.(july visit)

On 4th September 2016 - rating: 7
[User has posted 940 recommendations about 927 pubs]

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Tris C left this review about The Load of Hay Tavern

22 May 2016.

Reopened this week and common sense has prevailed in that the pub's name has been returned to that of The Load of Hay Tavern. Unfortunately, common sense failed to make it past the front door as the interior is now that rather dated stripped out look that was all the rage a few years back and the ruination of many a pub.
The new floor is pale boarded. There are black leatherette studded booths to the right side thereafter chairs are plywood and look like they've come from a school canteen. Low wattage carbon filament lamps dangle from long flexes and there are strange copper lamps over the booths. Unsurprisingly, the colour scheme is typical pale blue and grey; the wallpaper is textured and looks a bit like imitation copper birch bark. There's a fireplace, but it's stacked with logs, presumably for decoration as I can't see it ever being used. The end result is that the place is a bit stark and not at all homely, and with all the hard surfaces, acoustics are very poor.
Real ale is very limited. There were two unused pumps, thereafter it's just Northern Monk's True North and something called Load of Hay Best Bitter at a reasonable £4.20 a pint; it was though a little warm.
This isn't a pub that cossets and I don't like the stripped out look - this makeover really was a lost opportunity and I doubt I'll return, especially as The Sir Richard Steeele across the road shows just what a good pub should look like.


A return visit the other day and there are still just two ales with the Northern Monk's True North replaced with Redemption's Rock the Kazbek at £2.20 a half and, once again, rather warm. Does this pub have a heated cellar? On a more interesting note, from 1965 to 1974 this pub was called The Noble Art on account of it hosting the Belsize Boxing Gym where none other than Muhammad Ali once trained.

On 27th June 2016 - rating: 4
[User has posted 999 recommendations about 984 pubs]

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Steve of N21 left this review about The Hill

I can relate to Steve C’s last comment below as I had the same question when visiting for the first time early last year.
It certainly looks like a pub from the outside, especially as it has an external reference to the former name of ‘The Load of Hay’ and being built in 1863
. And continues to do so when you walk in through the main door, which has some nice remaining Victorian iron work features, including the ceiling curtain rail, which at one time must have held some sizeable heavy duty modesty curtains.
But then you begin to notice a few things being at odds.
At some stage some media type twonk has obviously decided that renaming it to ‘The Hill’ and going mad with the Bohemian decor makeover would be a good thing.
The walls, pictures and lighting fitments seem a strange mixture of Victorian and modern and the furniture seems to be more an art collection of period pieces, presumably obtained from the nearby Camden markets, with no two pieces being the same.
A complete lack of pub type facilities in there being no teles or fruit machines. (For me this is a good thing). But then a bar serving area that on approach seems initially to be void of any drink dispensing units. And the traditional back of a bar where you would expect the optics seems to have been replaced with a racking system made out of industrial meccano, whose purpose seems to be to hold wine bottles.
Fortunately there was some drink dispensers including a sole real ale pump, but these seemed more of a distraction to the two girls working the bar whose function appeared to be to wait on people in the section of the strange furniture put aside to dining.
This was for the food menu which was comprised of dishes whose purpose seemed to be to include as many unknown ingredients as possible and prices that would make the common working man’s jaw drop. And if I needed any further evidence that I wasn’t the target demographic, there was a bar snacks menu which comprised of Tapas.
It wasn’t till after closer inspection of the window stickers that I had initially taken as GBG entries but were awards and recommendations from dining publications, and the wife came back from reading an article in the Ladies which stated that ‘The Hill’ was classified by Michelins guide in the top 40 Gastro pubs in London, that the penny dropped to what this place is about. This would also explain why the kitchen seemed to have been moved out into the bar area, with the chefs cooking behind the Meccano racking in full view of the people sitting in the dining area.
And despite vowing not to return I was back in this week as at least it did provide a quiet pint compared to the scrum in the bars and pubs around The Roundhouse down the hill.
And I was pleased to find that it has become a bit more pubby. The ridiculous Tapas bar snacks have been replaced with bowls of chips (wedges twice fried and in some coating but still generally chips). The more pretentious menu items have disappeared for dishes you can actually recognise, but the Steak is still an eye watering £20.00, and one of the girls is now working the bar to serve those who only want to drink. And low and behold there is now a large plazma tele installed from the ceiling by the entrance for the forthcoming world cup matches.
And also this is a much more pleasant place for a social drink on a pleasant evening, as the front panels of the pub are opened making it much more light and airy and the two part secluded courtyard garden comes into its own.
But still only a single ale handpump dispensing Adnams, which was decent enough. But if its vertical beer drinking you are after then the nearby Sir Richard Steele is a much better bet.

On 22nd May 2010 - rating: 5
[User has posted 1712 recommendations about 1661 pubs]

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Steve C left this review about The Hill

I was in here late Sunday afternoon and I think there was a private function going on in one half of the pub, so everyone else was crammed into the other half. My group felt very uncomfortable having a drink sitting amongst diners so we planned to leave after one pint. Then just as we were about to go we were asked to move to make room for a couple that had made a reservation. You have to ask yourself if this should actually be classed as a pub, I would say not!

On 29th May 2007 - rating: 4
[User has posted 3587 recommendations about 3566 pubs]