Single Malt at The Boogaloo

Day 4 cntd (10th Jan 2009)

The Lion (Archway) ½ Guinness ½ Strongbow ½ Carlsberg Export 1 x Bag Dry Roasted Nuts, 1 x Bag Bacon Fries £4.80

JW Realises he's forgotten his checkbook; Liam is "The Lion"

JW Realises he's forgotten his checkbook; Liam is "The Lion"

Anyone who has driven down to the bottom of the A1 to Archway and around to the top of Holloway Road will have seen the imposing building that houses the Archway Tavern – a fairly legendary London pub, steeped in history, and famous for screening lots of sport, for music at least four nights a week and even for its club nights. It doesn’t necessarily have the best reputation these days, but it deserves its place on any serious tour of classic London pubs. Which makes it a bit of a shame that it wasn’t actually the closest pub to Archway Station.

So to The Lion we went, on the corner right opposite the station entrance. Bit of an Irish pub this one, with no real ale on of course, but the usual couple of Big Screens around the room, which itself was filled with some very traditional pub furniture – i.e.  very old school, slightly weather-beaten with spectacularly bad patterns on the soft furnishings. Be aware those of you counting the days until payday as they proudly advertise that they will cash cheques for you here – but also check the time, because they only do it on Wednesday to Friday between 4pm and 8pm, or on a Saturday between 1pm and 6pm – presumable to stop people from bowling in at 10 O’clock on their way to the nightclub with a bellyful of beer and a rubber chequebook…

Having turned down the possibility of some good looking Tapas on our previous stop, we were clearly searching for something more refined to eat. We found it at The Lion of course, in the shape of some Fancy-Dan Bacon Fries, and some classic Dry Roasted peanuts (only KP will do, of course). Once supper had been polished off, we felt no particular need to linger too much longer, so we knocked back our glasses and headed back underground.


The Boogaloo (Highgate) 2 x ½ Strongbow 1 x Laphraoig £5.85

JW starts "doing The Boogaloo", KL remains unimpressed

JW starts "doing The Boogaloo", KL remains unimpressed

Just a short walk along the little lane that takes you out from Highgate Station takes you slightly back down the hill to The Boogaloo.  If you go out the North entrance it takes you up to the Woodsman, but on balance we found that this one was just a tiny bit further away.

So what is The Boogaloo, I hear you cry? Well, it’s a type of music/dance that started in the 60’s of course! In this context, however, it is also a bar and “Juke Joint” on Archway Road, on a (fairly ambitious) mission to bring the aforementioned music/dance to a new generation of Londoners. It’s been open since 2002, and, in the words of the owners, wants to be “one of the great Rock’n’Roll Bars of our time” or, slightly more humbly, “a bar known for good drink, good music and good atmosphere.”

Unfortunately our little trio of Pubtastic-Pop-Pickers couldn’t really vouch for the atmosphere because there were only about five other people in apart from us. The music was certainly good though – they have an extraordinary Jukebox here: 100 Albums across the full musical spectrum, with the only proviso being that they are all at least 10 years old (“to prove they are genuine classics that have stood the test of time”). They even have a celebrity/music industry bod come in once a month to pick their own favourite to go on the hallowed list. Marvellous.

Our friend from North of the Border, was obviously feeling at home here. Whether it was the music, the friendly staff, or the howling arctic wind blowing outside, perhaps we’ll never know, but Liam decided that it was time he got started on the Single Malt. Good for him. The Laphraoig smelled wonderful too (that was as close as we were allowed to get to it), all rich and peaty – and a little bit like Iodine, I’ve always thought. Like the truly refined character he is, he accompanied his Scottish nectar with a classy carton of those warm spicy coated nuts you can get out of bar top vending machines. He then promptly disappeared, only to return looking very satisfied some time later, to offer us an addition to our review: “Good smoking area” he said, and we believed him.

Much enticed by the music though we were, it was starting to look like the home straight was once more in sight, and so we bade farewell to the staff and ventured back into the night. Definitely one for a revisit, The Boogaloo, perhaps when we have more time, and some dancing shoes.


The White Lion (East Finchley) 2 x ½ Blackadder ½ Old Rosie ½ Heineken £8.40

Three Amigos at The White Lion

Three Amigos at The White Lion

Another Guest Star arrives! Had there been any remote thought of flagging at this point, all such nonsense would have been immediately banished as our friend Hazel joined us to boost the team up to four in the final push towards High Barnet.

Of course it nearly didn’t happen. Following a couple of conversations trying to predict where we would be at certain times, as usual Mr Cock-Up came to town, and we ended up pretty much passing each other on tube trains going in opposite directions. Anyway, I think Hazel found herself at Highgate as we bowled out of East Finchley Station, so we resolved to wait at the pub there while she nipped back underground to come and find us.

And so we found ourselves still waiting for our round of drinks when Ms Palmer arrived, which was perfect timing really. Why were we still waiting? Well, The White Lion seemed to be bloody huge, seemed to be fairly busy, and the staff seemed to be hiding.

To be fair to The Lion, it was actually a pretty good pub, and I may have exaggerated its enormity – It was dark, I’d never been there before, and it definitely looked bigger than The White Lion in St Albans.

Lewis cast his expert eye (and taste buds) over the beer and declared it to be pretty good, and I was inclined to agree with him (although in this respect, definitely not as good as The White Lion in St Albans.  So there.  It’s not the size; it’s what you do with it that counts.)

Finding the loos was a bit of a mission, although that was possibly because we still couldn’t find any staff, to point them out to us. Still, pit stops were duly made and we got ready to ship out. We had a new guest in our midst and the wind in our sails (although it was possibly more of an ice tornado by now.) Enough of East Finchley, it was time to find out what the rest of it was like…..


One response to “Single Malt at The Boogaloo

  1. FYI I gather that Shane McGowan ex-of The Pogues used to drink / live at the Boogalloo Bar after a bar he was a part owner of “Filthy McNasties” in Islington went bust. Cant think why that happened…

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