Wenlock Arms, City Road
On paper this pub could be awful: hidden off the City Road and hard to find, its in an area filled with factories, warehouses and a council estate. Once part of the Wenlock Brewery Co., which used to be situated in this road, the décor doesn't appear to have been updated since the brewery was closed by Bass in 1962. Once you've found it, however, it's a gem. Boasting the largest selection of real ales in North London, you'll easily find quirkily-named, rare brews from obscure companies. The turnover is pretty high, so the selection could well entirely change between visits - even in the same week. And a special mention must go to the salt beef sandwiches. On our recent, Friday lunchtime visit, the barmaid simply assumed (correctly, with the exception of the one vegetarian in our party) that it was the local speciality all round. Weekend nights are especially popular, with a trio of elderly gents usually in residence playing some fine jazz, while the Thursday quiz night attracts the crowds to an already very busy pub. The locals create a genuinely friendly atmosphere, just like a real pub should, but it also comfortably caters for younger, newer N1 residents and a regular stream of CAMRA members. Highly recommended, with one minor reservation; there's a rather pervasive smell of the bogs everywhere in the pub. It's something we've noticed in one or two other real ale emporia, why is this? It's almost a case for bringing back smoking. Nevertheless, it's probably worth it to try some interesting brews you won't find in many other pubs. Oh, and don't flash your 2,000 quid laptop around on the way there.
26 Wenlock Road, City Road, London, N1 7TA
On leaving Angel tube turn left and walk down to the junction and head left down City Road. After a ten minute walk or so, turn left up Windsor Terrace which leads on to Wenlock Road. From Old Street tube: follow the exit for Moorfields Eye Hospital and walk up the road to the Hospital. Pass the hospital then turn right up Shepherdess Walk. Then it's a left on on to Micawber Street and a right up Wenlock Road.