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Alwyne Castle, Islington

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user reviews of the Alwyne Castle, Islington

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

I wasn't planning to visit this pub today. But with a little spare time, I took a wonder away from Highbury & Islington station to see what it was like. The exterior doesn't look too promising. But the interior is typical of many in this area, with a limited number of cask ales, keg options and a fairly trendy crowd who congregate in fairly large groups around sofas and the like. A couple of groups were eating on my weekday lunchtime visit. The 4 cask ales were Truman's Fine and Dandy, St Austell Proper Job, Oakham JHB & Thornbridge Crackendale. There were also a number of keg beers from Thornbridge. Not too bad. My Fine and Dandy was slightly unusual, but absolutely fine.
blue_scrumpy - 1 Feb 2018 17:02
Not a bad boozer - decent beers and nice ambience.

However the food was very underwhelming on our visit. Over a tenner for a burger that was way below the standard you expect these days. Fish and chips similarly poor. Advise to stick to the drink!
enfilade - 28 Feb 2014 16:00
I'm a massive fan of this pub. Great selection of beers, good food, open til late and always has a good atmosphere. It also has a massive outdoor area which is great in the summer; the downside to this is that it becomes a victim of its own success and so it can take ages to get served. Some say that this is because the bar staff are work-shy posers, and while this may have been a contributory factor in the past, the current batch provide an excellent service.

Foghorn1 - 20 Jan 2013 17:06
I have been to the Alwyne in the past and was sure it was a pretty safe bet, despite thinking the menu looked over priced thought it was pretty much the way of North London pubs these days.
Four of us had the fixed price two courses for £10, on a mid week evening. Waitress was OK just a bit inexperienced. But it took 40mins for our mains to come and when they did. What a disappointment the 6oz steak was not what you would describe as steak, it was thin poor quality meat that was over cooked and in no way appealing grey, better described as a flipflop.

The desserts that we had been looking forward to, we were warned were still frozen, would we still want them. Hmm we risked two and then had a cheesecake. Since when is everywhere selling pre-bought desserts that just aren't as nice as they sound. Disappointing.
The bill was incorrect and we had to send it back. £4.50 for a half pint of hot cider is seriously cheeky. It was warming but not worth buying another.

Maybe this pub is still OK for a summer pint in the garden but I won't be going for food again.
Bobfilm15 - 23 Nov 2012 11:02
All I can say is WASPS!!! Far too many bloody wasps! It has a fairly decent beer garden, although it does have the feeling of being a bit like a car park and it's right on a busy road, but as London beer gardens go it's not too bad. I've been there 3 times during the summertime, and the last 2 times it was ruined by the amount of wasps attacking us. The only reason for this can be the place is not clean enough. When we have been there we have noticed dirty plates and glasses left on tables for far too long. And because of this, both times we finished our drinks and moved on to the next pub.
Ricobran - 15 Dec 2011 13:25
This could be a really nice pub with excellent outdoor space and a huge menu...but it's one of the worst pubs I have been to in London.
I have a been a few times to this pub and wish I could say good things about it but the rudeness of the staff in itself is enough to deter me from ever returning. It really is quite shocking (the worst I have received in London) - it seemed too much trouble for them just to give us a menu and being served wine in anything but tumblers was out of the question. What's more, on every single occasion I have attempted to eat there it seems that not a single thing is left on the menu.

My advice is to pop down the road to the Canonbury where the service is good, staff turnover is lower and the garden is better.

Such a shame about this one.
MacMarketing - 27 Jun 2011 18:10
Nice pub, think it has had a recent refurb. Ive been a couple of times now, and spent some sunny afternoons outside, and some evenings in the conservatory. The food is pretty good and the staff always look pretty busy but are keen to help. All in all its a good local boozer in my opinion!
Udo83 - 12 Apr 2011 10:12
Indescribably bad staff - slow, rude, and apparently incapable of making sure people get served in the order they get to the bar. And the wait at the bar can be very long - over 20 minutes at one point.

The outside area is nice though and they have adecent selection of lagers (when they don't run out).
CannyRogue - 23 Jul 2010 13:10
Yes, the service is dreadful. Yes, the bar staff change from week to week. And yes, the food ordering system involves having to describe your table's geographical location in minute detail so they can work out which table number it is (and then they'll send it to the wrong table anyhow). However, I keep returning there. The beer selection is ok, about varying 3 ales on tap and the food is ok too (at the moment it's 2 meals 2 drinks for 15). The interior style is relaxed/shabby and the pub is usually packed. But the best thing about the Alwyne is the quiz at 8pm on Tuesdays. Run by quiz man Matt (aka glasses boy), it's 1 each entry with cash prizes- arrive about 7pm for a table. And finally, watch out for Alan Davies after an Arsenal match, also watch your belongings (personal experience of theft there (probably not linked to Alan!)).
Lozzachops - 13 Mar 2010 11:15
Very poor service at this pub. It wasn't busy, but we were kept waiting an hour for a Sunday Roast - enquiries as to its whereabouts were repeatedly fobbed off by various disinterested bar staff who didn't seem to think there was anything wrong at all. Meanwhile, the chef chomped away at his dinner - no delay with his - as cutlery was being dried with paper towels in the middle of the restaurant area. After the third enquiry, we discovered that the missing meals had been sitting on a hot plate drying out for at least 20 minutes. Avoid this place.

arthur.askey - 7 Sep 2009 13:53
Yes, the bar staff are a little blunt and on the more than odd occasion you have to wait a bit for a drink, but the Alwyne is, at the very least, a Great British pub. It has fought the good fight, and whilst offering a good food menu and actually producing some quality nosh at reasonable prices, it has retained its boozer charm and held at bay those who would otherwise turn it into some pretentious 'posh' gastro pub for the all too common Islington media luvvies. At the Alwyne, you are guarenteed an eclectic mix of people, from young and old, to parents and prams, students, mid twenty to thirty somethings, groups of mates, and the odd lunatic who smells of wee. A champion of a "public" bar. The Alwyne holds its middle finger aloft at all those yuppy havens around the corner, like the newly re-opened Canonbury or the Albion.

A great selection of lagers, ciders and speciality beers/ales. Not bad wine list. All very normal pub prices. The Alwyne is spacious inside and has a large outside area (although right on St Pauls Road). It always seems to catch the evening sun so perfect for a pint later in the day. Nice bbq's in the summer.

Huzzah for the Alwyne!
tomward01 - 2 Sep 2009 16:41
Two dots after the name made me fear the worst. I believe there is only one full time pub sign painter left in the country and the minimalism displayed to the good people of St Pauls Road will not keep him in Witch Hazel for long. The place is so cool it appears to have dispensed with the word 'Castle' all together. 'If you can't work out it is a pub, you are beneath contempt' this approach says to me. Nevertheless, I ventured inside and was pleasantly surprised. It is quite spacious with a comfortable, if eclectic, selection of furniture (i.e. sofas and tables that in no sense go together). All in the modern idiom, of course. I think there were at least two pumped bitters and what seemed a wide selection of other drinks. The point at which I went to get a second round was when the fashionably modern problem of insufficient numbers of bar staff made me wish I carried a hip flask. Didn't try the food as it appeared expensive and I have no doubt black olives and hand peeled unsalted nuts would have dominated th menu. Also, I was not hungry. Beer was well kept. At the front it has a selection of garden furniture bought during the golden age of MFI in the late eighties and not painted since Margaret Thatcher was hounded from office. From there, you can watch the traffic crawl between Highbury Squareabout and the Dalston poundshops.

Not a bad pub.
BitterShurn - 1 Jun 2009 17:06
I have been going to this pub for years and although it is easy to pass judgment on the Alwyne in one way or another it also remains true that it is astonishingly rare to come across an establishment that manages its standards with such infallible and enduring accuracy and persistence. With an almost other worldly resistance to the passage of time and the inevitable fluctuations in the nature of local demography the Alwyne has succeeded in maintaining such appalling levels of service for such a long time that this has become a source of fascination for many rather than a force of repulsion. Beyond incompetent, uninterested and effectively absent the staff's arrogance and laziness are almost intoxicating in their ability to induce a sense of pure awe in an experienced patron as well as the unsuspecting guest. . Even though bar staff come and go, the customers change, winter rains are replaced by the sweet scents of spring blossom the Alwyne teams inability to deliver in this very unchallenging job is as certain as the passage of time itself. But, as in life, the closer we look at the Alwyne Castle the more we realise that it is a far greater source of marvel than it seems at first glance. And, once we get a chance to discuss all this directly with them ,as I once have we, find that the world is even more curious than we could have thought as it becomes apparent that there is genuine interest and ambition for success in the hospitality industry lurking behind that bar, behind those eyes; this performance is brought to us by people who are doing what they want to be doing, what they want to succeed in. The mind is then elevated to new heights by the incomprehensible situation it witnesses and that is why I still go back to the Alwyne, every once in a while, just to remind myself of the fact that the world is simply not here for us to understand. Here's to the Alwyne, whatever its significance might be.
g_dubs - 15 Mar 2009 19:32
Absolutely love this place. The service is still a little slow though the manager told me he's doing some reordering to speed things up soon. I've been going to this pub for a few years now and its come on leaps and bounds. The decor's improved, the beer selection has increased the food is actually pretty damn good. It also helps that the manager seems to have a penchant for hiring fit bar staff which is always a plus. 10 out of 10 for a classic, quirky north london boozer that seems to be going from strength to strength. Hoorah. Oh and thank God they've redone the bogs. They were seriously disgusting before.
diorchoose - 20 Feb 2009 16:31
The service at the Alwyne is abominable.

Despite the good selection of beers, and above average food, the negligent, rude or just plain incompetent staff really take the biscuit. The worst bar service I've ever experienced and I've been to a lot of pubs/bars/etc.

One instance was priceless - I asked for a top up on my pint, very politely, after being served two thirds of a pint with a massive head. The barmaid topped it up a little but it still wasn't by any means full. I said, can I have the full pint, please? And she stared at me censoriously and said, what you want more? Classic. What a buffoon.

I used to go here all time, was a glutton for punishment. One day I decided not to put up with it anymore. And I suggest you don't either.
benjah - 15 Dec 2008 15:05
The food's really improved here in the last year. It's still lovely and laid back and a bit off the beaten track from the Upper Street masses. Building work was going on in the loos this week when I was in so, with any luck, they'll be nicer time I go in..
Anon72 - 25 Oct 2008 11:49
Great pub with good food and excellent outdoor seating area--perfect if the weather's nice.
I really enjoy this pub, but comes with a warning--bar service is incredibly slow, and they don't seem to care.
Ashalee - 20 Oct 2008 11:53
Do the staff actually care about serving customers - have now officially given up on this place which is a shame as the food has really improved. However, sick of standing at bar waiting for some affected pseudo-student type wander about behind not bothering to serve as they have a cappucino to make for a mate. Last time I was in Sunday afternoon, not overtly busy but watched five or six people give up at bar and leave pub before we followed ... there were four people behind bar, one making that coffee, one serving and two chatting to each other very obviously avoiding catching the eyes of the drinkers.
celt7 - 11 Jun 2008 17:34
re-visited for a quick couple of pints on Friday, first time in about 2 years, still a great pub, very laid back relaxing place to drink.
Venom - 8 Jun 2008 13:58
Really nice place down St Paul's Road and so off the main drag of Upper Street. This makes it a bit more relaxing and laid-back. Looks a bit like a country pub from the outside.
Greshon - 2 Mar 2008 13:06
The perfect pub to relax in. Trendy but cosy, with good music and reasonably priced drinks. The staff have done a good job on the several occasions I have visited, although I am yet to try the food!
Owly - 14 Jan 2008 10:49
I can not believe that this pub is only got 5.8/10 - it is so nice. The Alwyne is the type of place that is perfect to relax and unwind after work. I was there last night with friends and had such a lovely evening, it has such a great atmosphere, and the food is really nice. It looks like they are about to start selling christmas trees again outside????????? thats why I am a regular of the Alwyne, it is wierd in a wonderful way!
Huge beer garden.
I have always had good experiences at the Alwyne! Sure, it gets busy at the weekends, but where in London (that's nice) doesn't. Arsenal match days are a bit crazy pre and post match - but that is all of North London. Thumbs up

anonymous - 30 Nov 2007 12:27
I can only wish I read these reviews before I went to the Alwyne Castle - Great outdoor and indoor space completely ruined by incompentent staff who can't deal with basic drink orders at the most quiet of moments. The food is just plain awful, I've never known a pub to get a roast dinner so terribly wrong - to the point where I have gone through the hassle of wanting to warn anybody I can to avoid it at all cost.

I mean a ROAST! Water gravy, tasteless cabage, butter carrots that just taste over boiled, and roats potatoes that tasted like they were re-boiled - yes boiled from last week. And for this 9??? Come on. Tell your friends. Avoid the FOOD like it has the plaugue.
Pantang - 9 Sep 2007 18:13
The service in this bar is beyond bad!
I've been drinking regularly here for several years because it's handy and comfortable - great in the summer because of the large outdoor area.
However, I find it difficult to believe that any of the staff have prior bar experience. They have no idea of the order of service, can only concentrate on pouring one drink at a time (slowly), and will leave the bar when it's at its busiest to collect glasses or delever food.
My advice - hire a glass collector and a waitress, then get hold of some decent bar staff who know the definition of multi-tasking.
rhamilton - 2 Aug 2007 14:17
I've been drinking at the Alwyne for a few years and it has definitely gone downhill service wise recently. It's never been express, but it's getting beyond a joke.

Apart from that, great pub, good beers, sofas, ambience and occasional celebrity spotting - Alan Davies pops in and I saw Jimmy Nail the other Wednesday night.
RichardW - 2 Aug 2007 14:03
I love the Alwyne, it is the home of the Highbury Groovers Netball Squad, I drink there at least twice a week and food is good, lots of space outside.

The problem is the service - it is appalling, waiting 15-20 mins to get served is just not acceptable.
When the bar is 3 deep, the bar staff then decides to go and collect glasses or just stand there looking gormless.

Also would be good to get rid of some of the sofas they take up so much space and seat so few people.

Come on Alwyne get your act together.


shaggis - 2 Aug 2007 13:37
This pub is pretty average, trading on the fact that the local competition isn't up to much and that they have a large beer garden. The only reason we go there is because of its location and because its bland enough to suit a variety of tastes (e.g. work do). I did have a nice burger here once but have never braved a roast - not sure I ever will judging by the feedback!
whatbill - 3 Jul 2007 12:08
Served me a Sunday roast that was the worst meal I have ever been served anywhere. How the 'chef' has a job in a kitchen is a complete mystery.

The place is OK if you can get served but seriously, AVOID THE FOOD.
anonymous - 23 Apr 2007 11:14
Nice enough selection of beers and wines, but not much atmosphere and the service is terrible. You'd be better off heading to the Snooty Fox or hitting Upper Street and going down to the King's Head.
Gerontay - 11 Apr 2007 15:55
Service funereal. We were reduced to collecting our own food from the kitchen counter, since the big-trousered youth whose job it was couldn't be bothered. Beer good if you can persuade someone to sell it to you.
HazyJayne - 1 Jan 2007 19:57
I like this pub I really do. But come on 15 mins to get served? With 6 people at the bar and 3 behind it????
And the Food I cant believe that Islintoite want to have the roast twice.
I had the roast once. And thought about having them up on the trade description act over the roast potatoes
Which had been stuck in the deep fryer. When questioned he denied this. The with in half an hour we watched him stick in another load!
Still the no smoking area is good. You wont smell of smoke just chip fat!!!!
Come on the management. Sort out the Bar staff. Get them to remember more that 2 drinks at a time!
As a former barman I know how monotonous the job is so I used to make it more interesting by trying to remember at least 8 drinks. It also speeds up the service!
One tip dont eat in there until they sort that deep fried menu out! i.e dont deep fry and microwave everything!

Mr_Blonde69 - 23 Nov 2006 19:05
I thought the food here was really good. Ive been for Sunday roast twice but was kept waiting nearly half hour the second time. Good when it came out though.
the outside looks a little scruffy sometimes but inside its great and good to see decoration touches done by the staff.
the manager said they were thinking of extending the garden into the car park some more so more room for BBQs next summer...
Islingtonite - 11 Nov 2006 11:51
Arrived at the Alwyne on a sunny summer's evening for a couple of drinks and some food, but left vowing never to eat here again. Admittedly the beer garden was busy that night, but it took well over an hour for four simple burgers to arrive, and almost 90 minutes for a plate of potato wedges. 90 minutes?! What's more, the only two people from our group to eat prawns here both had food poisoning the next day... Coincidence? Make up your own mind.
As somewhere to come for a drink, the Alwyne is fine, but please take my advice and never, ever eat here.

Smudger01 - 9 Jun 2006 16:15
A really nice pub, Can sit in the beer garden in the summer or the conservatory in the winter. Great food & a good selection of beer.
richkinsella - 3 Feb 2006 13:50
To me this started off as an example of everything that is worng with certain types of pub in this area. Went here to meet some firends and nearly walked by as the,admittedly stylish, exterior seemed to suggest a restaurant rather than a pub. Once inside my heart sank as it seemed to be another triumph for "style" over substance. Trendy decor that was largely minimalist but counterpointed by kitsch objects such as a Zebra-skin(presumably fake to avoid the wrath of The local Guardianistas) chair and a chalk board behind the bar replete with a long list of wines handwritten in an overly fussy way really had me wanting to spin on my heels and leave, especially as many of the clientele appeared overly smug or just trying to hard to be cool.
However, despite these initial misgivings this isn't too bad a place for a night's drinking. A good, varied selection of beers both bottled and draft are there to be had and the prices on these isn't too dear. The draft Amstel and Sleeman's were both top notch. Service at the bar was not the quickest I've ever encountered but not worthy of severe criticism and the barstaff are friendly and know what they are doing once you get your order in. Wine however was ludicrously overpriced at around 5 for a glass of (I believe) the House White!
Seating was deceptively comfortable and the background music was a very eclectic mix that didn't drown out conversation but helped enhance the atmosphere which might otherwise have consisted of saelf-satisfied braying laughter( you know the kind, not a genuine laugh but a laugh that screams "look at me I'm laughing, aren't I great").
Enjoyable enough evening all in all, and if someone suggests going here it's probably worth the occasional visit but I can't see anyone voluntarily making it a regular haunt and it's not worth going out of your way to check out.
Mr.Monkfish - 16 Jan 2006 13:44
Really nice pub, nice people, all that jazz. But really, they need to sort out the time it takes to get served. Even when it's not busy it can take ages. It took me so long the other night I'd seriously consider not arranging to meet people there in the future. Just another one or two staff members would solve the problem.
anonymous - 28 Nov 2005 13:40
A nice attractive pub. Getting served takes a while.
keep_it_green - 1 Nov 2005 13:31
A nice pub with a good range of beers, decent food. Shame about inattentive staff, one rather surly, and it taking absolutely ages to get served even when the pub is far from busy. A shame. I'll give it another go but will take some convincing.
Timmymc - 30 Aug 2005 12:28
Nice pub, getting served can take a while, but the food is good, there is plenty of seating, and there is a good selection of wine.
maxy - 27 May 2005 14:03
Great pub, clean, well decorated and bright.


Venom - 2 Jan 2005 22:58
In addition to outside seating, the Alwyne has a small conservatory attached- v nice spot if the weather is still too cold to allow for sitting outside. Great pub for quiet afternoon drink but it does tend to get v busy at the weekends.
Alex - 15 Nov 2004 13:55
Went in here recently for the first time in a while and it was a very pleasant surprise.
Siobhain - 19 Dec 2003 09:18
Had a fab time, the staff are v nice and chatty, the pub has good atmosphere, great space, plenty of seating, nice fire all in all a great local....
Victora Pegley - 27 Oct 2003 12:26
I absolutely LOVE this pub, great music, drink and the staff were wondefully friendly and helpful. I will definately go there again and tell all my friends about it!
Clara - 4 Oct 2003 13:17
Wonderful open space. Very much a surprise given the horrid budy road it is on. Quiet, airy, great leather couches, open fire, wide selection of beers (including some great white wheat beers) and plenty of food, too.
Jason - 13 Apr 2003 12:35
Came upon this pub late on a storming sunday afternoon. Beers were excellent, and well comfy couches. 8.90 bought the best beef roast dinner i have had, with unburnt Yorkshire Puddings
Broose - 24 Mar 2003 13:53
Large-ish friendly bar/pub. A couple of good beers, laid back with couches all over the place. Some very good food as well.
Shaun - 6 Mar 2003 15:49

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