Picture of Olde White Bear, NW3 1LT

Historical version 14 of Olde White Bear, NW3 1LT (view current version)

Pub in Hampstead.

Note: The Olde White Bear closed for a refurbishment and change of management in October 2009. It reopened in March 2010 as the Old White Bear, and reports suggest that it's lost much of what made it worth a visit. We haven't been since the revamp, and the comments below (and its Good Beer Guide entry) relate to the old incarnation. All we know so far is that they still have two real ales on, the quiz night is no more, and there is some form of accessible toilet (though the step up to get in is still there).

Like many of Hampstead's pubs, the Olde White Bear is tucked away in a charming little square which can be a little hard to find — it's worth the trouble, though. Inside, there are a number of different seating areas, but all have a similar atmosphere of smart-but-traditional photo, with plentiful dark wood, and walls lined with signed black-and-white photos of various actors. Bar stools line the bar, and there are a couple of picnic tables out the front.

There are six handpumps, which according to the 2009 Good Beer Guide serve "a constantly changing range of up to six beers". This was certainly bourne out by our two weekday visits in September 2009; at the start of the month they had Springhead Ginger Pig (£1.60/half), Wadworth Henry's IPA, Meantime LPA, and Brains SA Gold; while three weeks later they had the LPA again (£1.60/half) plus O'Hanlons Yellow Hammer (£3.20/pint), Maxim Samson, and Sharp's Cornish Coaster. A comment from a staff member in the BITE comments linked below suggests that they usually have four on in the week and six at weekends, and that they deliberately avoid the usual Pride, Young's, etc, in favour of less-ubiquitous options.

When Kake visited on a Wednesday afternoon at the start of September 2009, there were no other customers. Service was friendly, and jazz was playing quietly and unobtrusively. Our second visit, by Kake, Ewan, and Sarah, was on a Thursday lunchtime three weeks later. This time there were three or four other customers, and an REM CD was playing.

The food came recommended by the 2009 Good Beer Guide, so we gave it a go on our second visit. (According to the menu photo, it's served noon-9pm.) Kake had the Caesar salad with chicken (£7.75) photo, which was simple but well-executed; the lettuce was fresh and crisp, the dressing was well-balanced, and the chicken was flavourful and not dry at all. We did wonder where the croutons were, though. Ewan had the chickpea and red kidney bean burger (£7.50) photo, which was substantial and chunky.

According to a sign seen in September 2009, quiz night is Thursday from 9pm, £1/person to enter.

Accessibility: A high step up to get in.

See also:

Last visited by Kake, Ewan, and Sarah, 24 September 2009 (i.e. prior to the change of management). Opening times taken from the Old White Bear website, March 2010.
OS X co-ord: 526562 OS Y co-ord: 185989 (Latitude: 51.558089 Longitude: -0.174108)
This is version 14 (as of 2011-06-26 14:30:59). View current version. List all versions.