Visited: Saturday 9 January by JC & JB
In case you were wondering, this is a rugby pub. “RUGBY!” is what the Faltering Fullback would shout at you when you walk in, if only buildings could talk. “RUGBY!” it would bellow again, right in your face. You try to ignore it, walk to the bar, but the pub is screaming “RUGBY!” over and over again. Your ears are starting to bleed. “RUGBY!” the Fullback persists, ignoring your tearful pleas for silence. “RUGBY!” it continues, though you can hardly hear it now: your eardrums have perforated, you’re shaking on the floor in the fetal position, ears ringing, quietly sobbing “rugby” to yourself over and over again. The Fullback, seemingly impervious to your suffering, is hunched over your almost lifeless form, still furiously screaming “RUGBY!” over and over. It won’t stop until one of you passes out.
I guess what we’re trying to say is: this is a rugby pub. And contrary to the nightmarish imaginary scenario we just painted with our words, it’s a firm favourite of Boozehound.
Tucked away off Stroud Green Road, but so well known and loved that it’s never quiet, it’s a labyrinthine, atmospheric, cluttered, confusing and occasionally contradictory place. It will take you forever to figure out the layout: you can get from the front door (well, one of them) to the smoking area at the back by taking any number of different routes, through rooms you didn’t even know existed.
A word of warning: if there is a rugby game on you really do need to get here early. As in, when it opens. For Six Nations games, for example, they’ll tend to have security on the door and a queue round the side of the building – always a terrifying sight during the cold light of day, recalling for Boozehound suppressed memories of nights long passed featuring regrettable decisions and attempts to enter questionable venues in the small hours of the morning, long after the sun has risen. If you’re anything like us and want to avoid the PTSD, get there by noon or don’t bother at all.
Even when the rugby isn’t showing, if it’s a weekend then the Fullback is guaranteed to be heaving, and the atmosphere fantastic. The bar staff are surprisingly efficient considering the small size of the bar, and generally everyone in there is accommodating when you’ve made the brave choice to weave your way through the crowds with a tray full of Hoegardens.
Strangely for an Irish rugby pub, the food here (which is excellent) is Thai. But, like we said, this place is weird and contradictory. And that’s no bad thing.
“But wait, Boozehound, you haven’t even mentioned the garden!” is what you may be shouting at your computer screen like a deranged ape if you’re familiar with the Fullback. Give me a chance, I’m getting to that.
The garden is something else: as with the rugby, when it’s sunny you need to get here early because it’s quite the attraction. Set over several floors, they really make the most of the space, and, though I’m not a medical doctor, I feel confident enough to say it’s well worth taking up smoking just to enjoy it.
The Fullback is a must visit; if you live anywhere in North London I’d be surprised if someone hasn’t already recommended it. Just make sure you get there early (and bring some smokes).
Do they do food? Thai food, somewhat incongruously, and it’s very nice.
Are they in the 21st Century? Ten pound minimum BUT the staff will very kindly charge you a tenner on your card then give you the change in cash.
Are there dogs? If you brought your dog here during peak hours I would question your judgment as a dog owner.
I want to smoke: You’re in the right place, my friend.