Bald Faced Stag, N2 8AB
- 020 8442 1201
- 69 High Road, N2 8AB
- noon-11:30pm Sun-Wed; noon-midnight Thu; noon-12:30am Fri-Sat
A very capacious gastropub just along the road from East Finchley Station.
Previously owned by the Realpubs chain, it was acquired by Greene King in April 2011, along with the rest of the chain. A visit since then confirms that very little has changed in the Realpubs "concept".
Inside, there are plenty of tables and a separate dining area. There's also a nice little hideaway room to the right of the bar, with a curtain to separate it from the main area; a sign suggested that this area can be booked. Seating is generally leather and plush, with several sofas scattered around; the floor is hardwood; and the lighting is chandelier-and-wall-lamp style. There's a good beer garden as well.
They have three handpumps, which as of March 2009 always host guest ales rather than regulars. Two were on offer during Kake's March 2009 visit; Holdens Springheeled Jack (£1.60/half) and Deuchars IPA. The barman gave me a very generous taster of the former even though I was only ordering a half, full marks for customer service! On a September 2012 visit, the cask ales included one from Itchen Valley brewery, perfectly well-kept. In October 2007 Ewan also noted Addlestones cider, Hoegaarden, Leffe, Staropramen, and the standard range of lagers on tap, with a good selection of bottled beers as well.
The menu has a good selection of food, though tends towards the pricier end (£9-13 main courses). In October 2007, Ewan's butternut squash polenta with wild mushrooms, spinach and goats cheese was extremely good, and Jo's butternut squash tart with halloumi (sensing a winter theme, here) was, despite being from the starter menu, still perfectly substantial and tasty. In March 2009, Kake tried the fish soup from the lunch menu (£4.50) photo; it wasn't bad, perhaps edging towards being a little too rich, but the flavour was fine and although the soup itself was quite smooth the croutons provided a decent textural contrast. Photo of the March 2009 lunch menu.
A return visit in September 2012 revealed little change to the overall feel of the menu, or the pricing, and on a Saturday lunchtime they also had breakfast options (served until 2pm), so Ewan had a full English breakfast (£9.50) photo, which had good quality ingredients, including excellent black pudding. Eggs were offered in any style (I went for poached, which were cooked properly, with a runny centre), and if the toast was a little bit too chunky and rigid (and I had to ask for butter), it was still a tasty brunch. Kerry had a 28-day aged rump steak (£12), good value for the general quality and cooked rare as requested, served with some solidly chunky chips.
On Ewan's October 2007 visit, the background music was fairly loud but not too distracting. On Kake's Tuesday lunchtime visit in March 2009 and on Ewan's October 2011 visit, the music was a more reasonable volume and fairly laid back in style.
A visitor called Sarah Dee (July 2008) comments that there's free wireless; we haven't confirmed this, though.
Accessibility: Two steps up at the front entrance, but there's a side entrance which only has a sort of shallow ridge, no steps. There are some toilets accessed via the room to the right of the bar, which requires navigating a step - not sure about toilets elsewhere in the pub though.