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Beer of the Week (w/e 25th October 2020) with Bucking Fastard on the Pub Forum

Southampton Arms, NW5

139 Highgate Road

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 8 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Blue Scrumpy left this review about Southampton Arms

After over 2½ years without a visit, I was back in the Southampton Arms yesterday afternoon for a session.

For quite a few years, this was my favourite pub in London. Although, I've since relegated it to second. Nevertheless, if you arrive here early enough and grab a table, it's a really pleasant place to while away some time. Evenings and weekends will inevitably be busy. But on our Monday afternoon visit, there were a few tables free, with just a handful of customers in.

With one single narrow room and an enclosed garden at the rear, it can certainly have a cosy feel. But the ale and cider range here is excellent. Yesterday's ales were Thornbridge Jaipur & Lord Marples, Kent Brewer's Reserve, Nene Valley Manhanttan Project, Turning Point No Post On Sundays, Five Points Railway Porter & Bristol Beer Factory Milk Stout. Ciders were Burrow Hill Cider Bus & Medium Dry, Turner's Dry, Crone's User Friendly, Lilley's Apples and Pears & Worley's Beatnik Billy.

I worked my way through all of the ciders and 4 of the ales, in addition to a craft beer from Gipsy Hill.

Snacks such as Scotch Eggs, Sausage rolls and pork sandwiches used to be available from the hot cabinet at the end of the bar. But whilst I noticed that the cabinet was empty yesterday, people still seemed to be getting food from somewhere. Other key changes in the Covid era are the removal of stools from the bar, which is actually quite beneficial to those trying to decide what to drink, and the acceptance of cards, where cash was the only way of paying previously.

Still a great pub and one I hope to return to as soon as possible.

On 25th August 2020 - rating: 9
[User has posted 338 recommendations about 338 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Tris C left this review about Southampton Arms

Not the sister pub to the Jolly Butchers (N16) - they copied this pub's sign design. As mentioned earlier, this was a rough old boozer until about eight years ago; I made my first visit just after its reopening and it's a very fine pub indeed and all the better at the time for not having been 'discovered'. My second visit was made a few months later and believe me, it had been discovered; you can't move in the place at peak times, hence the seemingly low mark. From the street you can't even see the bar for punters and things aren't improved by the presence of bar stools, bait for bar hogs. On this second visit it took about eight minutes to get served and a seat was utterly out of the question; we stood, being incessantly jostled by other customers in this crowded sweat box, downed our drinks and left, both of the opinion that trying to order a second round was an ordeal too far.
A return visit yesterday lunchtime and it was near deathly quiet, though this may have been explained by the terrible weather. It also meant that we could better evaluate the interior which is charming and very traditional, save for the removal of the mullioned window, replaced with a single picture window as part of the refurbishment. The floor is rough bare boarded and there's cream coloured walls and a burgundy coloured ceiling with lighting coming from conventional Edison-esque bare bulbs to the walls, some in flexes hanging from the ceiling and a few shallow enamelled tin shaded bulbs over the bar. The bar is appealing in russet wood though it has a modern white glazed tiled bar back. To the walls there's some wainscoting and above are a few old brewery mirrors from the likes of Bass and a much rarer example from Lacon's. Furniture is pleasantly ramshackle and basic, comprising pews, benches and Britannia tables. Out back, there's a very small garden. This isn't a food pub, but claims to have a fridge full of meat. Indeed, there are pies in a period heated cabinet and a jar on high of pickled eggs - which I've never tried; another jar contains a brown liquid which hints at pickled onions which I love, providing they are made by me and using cider vinegar. There are no TVs that I could see - or any of that 'caper' - and music here really does come from a gramophone - of sorts - as the pub has a vinyl-only policy, ELO in this instance.
Ales: too many to record and most I've never heard of, but there are 12 pumps dispensing mainly ales but also ciders, stouts, porters and the like; they are locally sourced and are on rotation. I can't remember what I had but it was new to me, competitively priced and very good.
This is a great pub, but time your visit wisely to avoid pubageddon. It also has a seven-day midnight-ish closing time though note that it's cash-only here.

On 1st February 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 985 recommendations about 970 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Mark Davey left this review about Southampton Arms

19/11/16 Still great

04/01/16 First beer of 2016 on a lunchtime visit, New Years day. I have been to the Southampton many times in the past couple of years and it hasn't changed one bit. great selection of ales on the bar, backed up with cider and the usual selection of spirits. If you are peckish, there are always pork pies and scotch eggs in the glass case.

will call again and again, one of the best pubs in London.

On 15th January 2018 - rating: 9
[User has posted 292 recommendations about 276 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Danny O'Revey left this review about Southampton Arms

Shabby chic, one roomed pub, wood floor, miss-fitting church pews, benches & a large glass window to street. The background jazz music fits nicely/ A lot obeers and cider from chubby copper pulls.

Nice place

On 8th November 2017 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1276 recommendations about 1253 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Moby Duck left this review about Southampton Arms

Update : been many times since my last review and it's still a top rate pub this time I had Howling Hops Riding Ale and Kent Prohibition,both were top notch.
My third visit to this pub and each time it gets better,a later in the day visit this time than previously and as a result a fair bit busier, this though only heightened the ambiance. A fantastic range of beers available and this time I tried Crate IPA and Howling Hops Chocolate Stout, both new to me and both did not disappoint. A real destination Pub.

On 3rd September 2017 - rating: 9
[User has posted 1354 recommendations about 1340 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Alan Winfield left this review about Southampton Arms

The Southampton Arms has a narrow frontage so can easily be missed.
Once inside there is a smallish oblong shaped room which runs to the rear,the floor is bare boarded,the seating basic wood pew seating and small stools which faces the bar which is on the mid right side,there is a piano just past the bar on the right side and i may have been better if someone was playing it because the background music was crap.
There was a good choice of real ales on the bar and too many for me to take in,so i just opted for the first pump clip that had a lower gravity beer on,this was Crafty Hare Dark Crystal,which was not to my taste at all,There were too many beers to note so i gave up.
Not my type of pub at all,though others like it,i am getting to dislike top real ale pubs more each time i visit them.
The pub had a few older drinkers in who were talking about beer,no surprise there.

Pub visited 2/6/2017

On 6th August 2017 - rating: 6
[User has posted 6113 recommendations about 6113 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Ian Mapp left this review about Southampton Arms

All a bit much for me - too busy, too small - lots of choice of beer but nothing in the English Bitter category - all seemed to be pale ales and porters.

An experience, but one I would only repeat at a quieter time.

Photos at my walking blog -

On 4th March 2016 - rating: 6
[User has posted 688 recommendations about 682 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Steve of N21 left this review about Southampton Arms

Back in for a late lunchtime visit, so the place was not so busy and managed to perch myself up the bar on one of the stools. Tried a couple from the former London but now based in Warwickshire Clouded Minds Brewery in the shape of Hazel Nutter and Clout Stout and they were both in good condition and very enjoyable. This is a very pleasant drinking den when it is not rammed and I’ve always found the beer to be OK, as it was again for this visit.

On 3rd January 2016 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1704 recommendations about 1653 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Bucking Fastard left this review about Southampton Arms

There are lots of traditional elements that make this a charming pub,the real fire,a pianist tinkling the ivories on three night a week,proper pork pies and pickled eggs.The bare light bulbs hanging down on long flexes from the high ceiling create a surprisingly good environment ,and the courtyard garden is popular with cyclists who wheel their machines carefully through the throng of drinkers.The collection of vinyl records means that some rare tunes are played on the turntable.
It's lively but may be becoming a victim of it's own success ,with difficult access to the bar which offers 10 real ales and 8 ciders.
As Mr Phat notes the handwritten notes describing some brews as "Still Hazy" was a red flag ,as was the condition of the Ginger Marble.I am not a regular so maybe we were unlucky on the night but if the beer police were also present ,the GBG entry for 2013 might be in some doubt.

APRIL 2013
Judging by my most recent visit,I was just unlucky on my first appearance.The ale quality was top drawer and this is one of the few pubs in the capital where you can get Marble beers,which appear a regular feature.Magic Rock,Dark Star,Fyne and Ilkley brews also added star quality to the ale range on my visit ,the only issue was that there were a lot of knockout IPA's(topped by Brodies Brett IPA) and few session strength beers to choose from.I shouldn't complain !
Cider does appear to be as popular as ale here,and having sampled the pork pies and sausage rolls pleased to report that they were top quality as well.An upgrade from me,this is now an absolute must visit when down in the smoke.

APRIL 2014
I feel compelled to upgrade again to full marks on the basis of the excellent ale selection policy and condition.Burning Sky Devils Rest,Allendale Rye Pilsner,Kent Brewery Altered States,Marble Dobber and Lagonda IPA topped off by some great pork pies resulted in a memorable evening.Fantastic.

Latest visit and ale quality problems again detracting from a fantastic range.Four of us sampled lots of hazy and out of condition pints,not bad enough to take back,but not right either.My guess is that barrels are brought on too early and need more time in the cellar.A basic error,although a lot of folk may believe that London murky is how ale should be served.Not me, so with regret it's back to an 8.

On 19th October 2015 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2086 recommendations about 2086 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Real Ale Ray left this review about Southampton Arms

We visited here on a Saturday afternoon and the pub was busy, but did manage to a get a small table down the back. The clientele was mixed and the atmosphere was good and jolly. The pubs features were the mosaic tiled entrance and the small lit open fire. There were a lot of dark beers on handpump on this visit, too many I thought. Still I did manage to get a very good pint of Great Heck Blonde.

On 13th February 2015 - rating: 9
[User has posted 2976 recommendations about 2976 pubs]

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