The Brownswood (ex The Brownswood Park Tavern), Finsbury Park
The result is certainly a big change to the old pub. Much as I loved the old Brownswood, it was pretty much moribund as a business - much quieter than it was, say, four or five years ago and with only a handful of regulars in there most nights.
Since reopening three weeks ago, it's been much, much busier. The upper floor, once a barren no-go zone, is now a pleasant place to sit with its bare floorboards, exposed brickwork and subdued lighting. The customer base has changed greatly too - the pub's now host to a much younger and trendier crowd who previously would have eschewed their local pub for the bright lights of Church Street.
The selection of beers is also great with around five different ales and the same number of lagers and ciders. Pavement seating and a vastly extended beer garden also make this pub a great place to be in summer.
So why only 3 out of 5 then ? It's because of two big problems. The first is the noise level - with its bare floorboards and lack of curtains or any soft fittings, the pub now has the acoustics of a squash court. On a busy Friday night it's quite difficult to hear what the person next to you is saying and this can spoil what would otherwise be an enjoyable drink.
The other problem is the food which seems to have quality and quantity issues. The home-made burger is crumbly and simply falls apart when lifted (though it tastes OK). And the bangers and mash - sorry guys but when I pay £9.50 I expect more than two modestly sized sausages and a meagre dollop of mash. Remove the gravy jug and sprig of parsley that sit on the plate and you'll find yourself staring at mostly empty porcelain.
Hopefully the aforementioned problems will be resolved, after all it's early days for this new-look Brownswood so perhaps they're still finding their feet. I'd be happy to amend this review should things get sorted out in this regard.
UPDATE: (9th July 2012)
OK it's a year later and I'd like to update this review. My concerns about the noise levels in the pub have disappeared. Either it's no longer as clattery or I've just got used to it. The staff are unfailingly friendly and I never get hassled at closing time. Quiz nights are always good too.
My point about the bangers and mash remains though. For just under a tenner, you need THREE sausages, not two. Talk about spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tar !!
I've now nudged it up to four stars. If they can solve their food issues (some of their other dishes are also lacklustre), and stop shafting us quite so badly on price then I'd give it five.
271 Green Lanes, Finsbury Park, London, N4 2EX
From Finsbury Park tube head down Blackstock Road and keep going before turning left down Brownswood Road. After a walk of about 15-20 minutes, you'll find the pub on the corner of Brownswood Road and Green Lanes (on the 106 bus route). From Manor House, choose the Green Lanes (south side) exit and walk down Green Lanes. The pub is about 10-15 minutes walk.