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In the Hop Garden with rpadam on the Pub Forum

The Stag, NW3

67 Fleet Road
Phone: 02077222646

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 6 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Steve of N21 left this review about The Stag

Yes I agree not the most attractive of pubs from the outside and the interior bar room is more functional than attractive and clearly at some point some employed interior designer thought that black was the new white. But the KSP of this one is the very good enclosed garden to the back with its central bench seating and covered alcove areas along the edges (which look like they can hold up to 8 and 10 people and can be reserved), so I tend to visit here when the sun is high in the sky as it was last Thursday.
Being close to Hampstead Heath station and the Royal Free, no surprise that this is another food led pub and most tables carry the menu, which is above your normal pub food level but not so much so as to fall in the overly gastro category. You can still get a homemade scotch egg for £4.50 for example.
But this is another pub where the available beer selection has been improved by the growth of Craft beer and as well as four ale pumps it has 24 keg taps and a fridge with over 100 bottles and cans and there was a fair selection of London craft brewers on the draft taps, including Meantime, Camden, Five Points and Bevertown from what I could see from the chalk board.
Of the four hand pumps two were given over to Ciders in the form of Orchard Pig Dark Cider and Rosie's Pig Flat Tyre Cloudy Cider with Rhubarb leaving only Timothy Taylor Boltmaker and Dark Star Hop Head as the available ales. Fortunately the Hop Head was on fine form and enjoyed in the spacious garden area. And in keeping with the modern debate two well kept ales is probably sufficient for this food led pub, whilst Craft pulls in the younger demographic as mentioned below.
It fits a purpose but is not one of my favourites, but I will continue to visit for the garden, which is one of the best in this part of London.

On 24th June 2019 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1699 recommendations about 1648 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Rex Rattus left this review about The Stag

I really think that this has to be the ugliest exterior I have seen on a pub, being painted black from top to bottom. And inside it's been knocked about a bit as well. The bar back is a relatively modern bit of woodwork, although to be fair the design is classic Victorian and honesty is preserved by it being made of light wood, that the Victorians would never have used. The bar counter is old however, but has been seriously and hideously distressed, or else suffered the most inept effort to restore it to its original state; the former I suspect.

There's also black painted walls inside as well, and while on the theme of blackness, there is a blackboard on one of the walls showing the beers available. But most were keg beers, of which there are loads. The real ales available were Flat Tyre, Timothy Taylor Landlord, and Five Points Pale, with a fourth handpump unused. I didn't see a menu on my Saturday evening visit.

It's not really my favourite type of pub, but my Five Points Pale was fine, and it was clearly doing something right judging by the fact that it was doing a roaring trade with a generally youthful crowd in.

On 26th October 2018 - rating: 5
[User has posted 2575 recommendations about 2493 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Tris C left this review about The Stag

Until the early 2000s this was a pub you crossed the road to avoid; a rough estate boozer. I ventured in for the first time to watch the 2006 World Cup (during the day) and could see that benefits had been reaped from a minor refurbishment. Shortly afterwards the pub closed and underwent a serious Grand Designs conversion.

Okay, the black exterior looks awful - threatening even - and the fascia plates look 'Harvester' cheap but this is now an upmarket pub catering for affluent and beautiful locals. A stylish yet sensitively retained interior and bar back are very fine as is the beer garden which is one of London's best: individual booths, individually heated and with speakers, benches at centre.

In terms of food it started well (at a price), though the current menu has slid markedly in terms of quality and class: it's now a bit more 'upmarket burger' than it was a couple of years ago, though prices haven't dropped to match the fall in quality; in summer BBQs are hosted in the garden.

Real ale is limited (Landlord and Black Sheep) though there's an eclectic mix of esoteric foreign bottled beers with Aspall's on tap. Service could be more swift and a smile wouldn't go amiss either. In winter, the proliferation of candles tends to sap the oxygen but overall this is now something of a destination pub away from the West End - certainly worth a visit if you are in the area, but don't get your hopes up in the food department.

On 2nd April 2011 - rating: 6
[User has posted 953 recommendations about 939 pubs]

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Steve C left this review about The Stag

I used to live near this pub and ten or so years ago it used to be a rough estate boozer with a slightly threatening crowd with limited vocabulary and compulsory pit bull in tow. There was then an improvement about five years ago when it was taken over by new management and some decent food was served and most of the local bottom feeders were barred, but it was still a little grubby and I always found it difficult to get comfortable. Until last Saturday evening I hadn’t been in for over three years and the transformation of this pub is hard to believe as it been refurbished, at seemingly great cost, into a gastro pub for the younger more affluent of the area. At one end of the L-shaped bar there is a fireplace that is surrounded with face-on logs that seem to be a popular addition to many gastro pubs at the moment. The bar basically stretches the width of the pub and gone are the usual suspects of Fosters and Carlsberg being replaced by a range of premium lagers and there has even been an addition of real ale as Landlord and Black Sheep clips were spotted hanging from the two hand pumps. Some more seating is found to the right of the bar which leads to the beer garden at the rear.

The large beer garden is probably where the refurbishment is most obvious as the uneven patchy grass has been levelled and covered with loose white stones and the decrepit old picnic tables have been replaced by new ones which have doubled in number. The new look garden is topped off with the addition of eight cabanas along the left and back walls which apparently hold up to twelve people and can be reserved with a quick phone call to the pub. There are various advertisements for events that are being held in the garden from live music to a BBQ every Friday, Saturday and Sunday weather permitting. I think that the ‘steak and claret night’ which is held every Thursday through spring and summer is a bit of a gimmick, but good luck to the management if it pulls in the punters.

There is a room upstairs which has its own bar and is available for hire for parties of up to 60. This area is also used for quizzes and comedy nights etc when the need arises.

As I approached I was a little put off by the jet black paint job on the exterior and the doorman in his high visibility jacket standing by the A-board at the entrance, but I’m glad I ventured in as this is now a decent pub. As the Hampstead gentrification spreads to surrounding areas it is good to see pubs like this one being improved, I just hope that the better local boozers manage to escape the mood lighting and maroon brush strokes of the ever richer interior designer.

On 14th May 2010 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3586 recommendations about 3565 pubs]