Halliford House (CLOSED)
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Relaxed backstreet boozer with a focus on gin and fancy food.
Please note, Halliford House is now closed. Time Out Editors, December 2018.
Canonbury’s backstreets are hiding this sweet little local, a picturesque cross between a pub and a bar, with a compact drinking terrace by the entrance filled with cast iron furniture. It was once the Oxford Arms, a pub that had remained closed and empty since the smoking ban stemmed the flow of custom through the door. But now it’s been brought back to life, and inside is a fairly plush affair, with some striking apothecary drawers at the bar, an intricate tiled floor and smart green sofas that look in on the room from the perimeter.
‘Copious drinks’ are promised on Halliford House’s website, but when we visited, over half the ales were off. Supply issues were brushed over so elegantly by the most charming Irish barmaid, it seemed of minor concern. Plus, it’s the gin you want to visit for, with more than 60 bottles in stock, and a monthly gin championed and served with tonic in balloon glass measures for £7. They seem to know their spirits here, and there is even talk of a basement cocktail bar in the offing.
The food menu also promised the earth, filled with fancy Italian bistro dishes – burrata and octopus were both present. A crab salad didn’t taste all that fresh, but meatballs were succulent and coated in a rich tomato sauce. Supermarket-bought bread was delivered apologetically to our table, even though we hadn’t even asked for bread. It was all kind of odd and sweet, really. In fact, the flaws we saw and how they were dealt with by kind-natured staff actually made Halliford House all the more endearing as an establishment. Lucky locals.
21 Halliford St
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