The Old Eagle NW1 9LU (Tube: Camden Rd)

There is no pretence with this pub. It is the pub it is. It isn’t perfect and it really doesn’t care. It revels in its honesty.

It’s shrugged-shoulder-edness to the rest of London is summed up by the payphone at the end of the bar. This isn’t a redundant red telephone box, some crap attempt at irony or a tourist puller. This is one of those wall-fixed two-tone grey payphones that don’t seem to accept any currency past or present. The fact that it even has a payphone in a city that will probably be on ‘8G’ by the time I finish writing this review is mental, but is testament to the obdurate nature of this establishment.

There is a payphone and there isn’t a website and this review was not written in the 1991. Ooo what a very ‘Generation Y’ or ‘Millenial’ comment that was… Biiitchy…

We sat on a sofa so unapologetically filthy that I contemplated having inoculations before I made contact with cheek. The menu offers chips as both a starter and a main course. I’m desperate to know if there is any noticeable difference between the two versions. In the days of the ‘Skinny Burger’ to be presented with something as straightforward as ‘CHIPS’ (f*ck off if you want something fancy!) is brilliant because it is so rare.

Pointless was on the tele. For those unfamiliar with Pointless, it is a tea-time TV quiz show hosted by smug people, sneering at other people that don’t know things nobody else knows, even though they themselves do not know. This is hypocritical because in other pubs we have openly criticised day-time TV being shown. But it was shown in a different way here; it wasn’t for an audience or to be part of the aesthetic. I got the impression that whoever was behind the bar just wanted to watch Pointless. The fact that he was working in a pub filled with afternoon drinkers was by-the by. The barman watches Pointless. So what?

Hanging from the beams in all the windows are musical instruments. Fiddles, cellos, drums… the whole orchestra. I like to think that they are hung there as a warning to any other miscreant instruments trying to get served, the way they used to do with pirates and robbers in olden times. I’m realistic enough to know that this hardly ever happens any more – partly because of the zero-tolerance approach of London publicans – so this probably isn’t the reason. Who knows why they’re there, but they look mental in an endearing non-threatening way. My only concern is that from time to time as the clock ticks to last orders one too many people will utter the immortal Brent-to-Keenan line, “go get the guitar…”. and the pub will be treated to some pissed up, out of tune warble from a guy with a goatee, a waistcoat under a long leather coat, a flat cap and possibly snake-skin shoes.

My only criticism is that above the bar they have some fridge-magnet sayings; “Village idiot needs village” and “Where there’s a will there’s a relative.” These are just shit, sorry.

Otherwise, this is a belter. It’s individual without the need to call itself individual. It stands out without needing a website to stand out. It’s one of very pubs we’ve reviewed that I can actually remember going in, and that says it all really.


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