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Lion and Unicorn, Kentish Town

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user reviews of the Lion and Unicorn, Kentish Town

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

Got my pubs mixed up - this is actually pretty unexciting - might rank higher in a worse area for pubs but given such strong competition in Kentish Town, falls well down the list.
BoehmBawerk - 25 Mar 2018 17:07
A worthy representative of this most quickly gentrifying of neighbourhoods. The food borders on the fancy - tacos and machos with a foodie twist - and the ale selection is bettered by the craft offerings - a pint of peanut butter stout was pretty divine. A good space and not too large.
BoehmBawerk - 25 Mar 2018 16:52
Checked out all the GBG entries in Kentish Town and this was the only one that was a disappointment.

Very high prices. No atmosphere at all - like a hotel bar. Beer (Redemption Big Chief) was kept OK but not really my sort of pint.

Plenty of other choices in the area. Visit blogged at http://bit.ly/2wM3nj2
Mappiman - 11 Aug 2017 13:13
This is Kentish Town not Mayfair or Belgravia so £4.70 for a pint of Twickenham Grandstand is out of order!!!!!
bjbrummiejohn - 23 Mar 2017 08:06

A well appointed and decorated Young’s pub with it's own theatre in the heart of a residential area.

4 ales on the 5 hand pumps, Redemption’s Big Chief @ 5.5% was extremely drinkable

Large front and rear beer gardens, plenty of food available and an open plan kitchen so you can see what’s being cooked (if that float’s your boat).

Again another pub that appears in the GBG. Nice pub & worth a visit.
lezford - 3 Nov 2016 15:17
The Lion & Unicorn is on a residential side street in Kentish Town. It is a Youngs pub with a nicely decorated interior and a small patio at the front. Ales were Sharps Coaster, Purity Mad Goose, Redemption Big Chief & Youngs Wooden Spoon & Ordinary. Nice enough pub. But the ales weren't to my liking and there was no real cider. There is a theatre upstairs.
blue_scrumpy - 30 Sep 2015 22:16
I bagged this pub as I was going to the theatre upstairs. Good location off the main drag, which is awful, on a corner and a posh residential area. Nice spot I'm sure for a sit outside on a sunny day with an ale. I was there when the big wind hit London. Big pub but now as one large bar area, though its run as a pub side and an eating zone. Food was a bit dry, well the chips were, but presented well and good service. Note the water at the table was free and there is a water dispenser on the bar. Brilliant as help yourself. Decor was a bit lacking but maybe the local swells like that. It was a rather Friends place, with some boy going on about Fashion, which I gather was a place of work. Anyway the beer was great, yes really good. Five proper ales and cider on. Service was very quick and pleasant. The place was very busy with half the people there going to the show. I had a couple of Sambrook's and it was great, also tried the Young's Best which went down well. £3.90 a pint they were. No idea if that is good for this area as I pay £3.40 in Hertford. I will go back. Only let down was the chips.
WeazelTimes - 23 Oct 2014 12:05
Looks like the reception of a travelodge. Full of pushchairs and a way too expensive too. Shame as it's a good space and could be great.
Stroppy74 - 19 Sep 2014 15:55
I DO think that some of the black-or-white apraisials administered by tuffnutparka are, at least, prejudicial.
Is, for example, everyone of the clientele at one of his least favoured pubs a 'non-handler'? Are everyman and woman a 'handler' at one of his favoured pubs? Does he or I or anyone else know the meaning of these terms?
No,no, no, no and no I think are the answers to these questions.
I could be wrong but I don't think I am.
albertfox - 20 Mar 2014 21:59
Absolutely rammed with non-handlers
tufnellparka - 19 Sep 2013 22:37
What a pleasure to find this pub after so many years. 5 pumps, one with a draught/cask cider.

Nice people, though you need to have patience to sit in any beer garden these days.

Chirpy service, prices are what they are, but the beer is in good nick.

Compared to the local competition, a gem. But this is (aspirational) Kentish town.
Bazzerboozer - 10 Jul 2013 23:56
Been in here twice now, once for ale the second for a bite to eat. Enjoyed the place, thought it was bright and welcoming. Large outside areas, which are a rariety around these parts, no doubt will be a major draw in the Summer months. Overall a welcome addition to the area.
BlueMoon - 13 Jan 2012 15:59
Refurbishment completed so popped in for a quick pint so these are just first impressions.

The pub has gone from one extreme to the other - from a dark cavern for regulars necking lager to a food-led gastropub crammed with colourful soft furnishings - if the editor of Ideal Homes had to decorate a pub this is probably what you'd end up with. It's a more successful refurb than the leopard-print and chandelier acid trip round the corner at Annie's Bar but may not be to everyone's taste. There's plenty of seating inside and out (perhaps a few too many tables in truth) and the banquette seating towards the back would suit larger groups, as would the sofa in the middle. Front and back gardens had both been refurnished and look quite smart if a little too neat and maybe lacking in character. The kitchen is towards the back and is close to the punters without actually being open as at the nearby Oxford Arms or Junction Tavern.

Usual mix of brand-name lagers (Staropramen, Stella and so on) and ciders on the bar. There were five handpumps on the go though not all were available yet (eg Adnams). We both had Sharp's Cornish Coaster (pulled by a barmaid who thought violently yanking the handpump was the optimum technique) which was tolerable if perhaps a little too cold.

Wine list and food looked to be as you'd expect from a gastropub (pig's cheeks, fish & chips, duck breast - at least no sausage and mash!) and the prices were probably fair enough if not bargains, but as we didn't eat I can't comment on value for money.

The staff are clearly fairly new and are still coming together as a team. It looked as though bar staff were dressed in pink polo shirts whilst waiting staff had purple shirts which is a rather unwelcome echo of Wetherspoons or similar. Hopefully over time they'll relax into their roles and this rather ridiculous distinction can be dropped.

The great draw for this place will be the theatre upstairs with resident theatre company Giant Olive consistently drawing plaudits. The offering downstairs is just right for pre or post theatre drinking and eating so hopefully both Geronimo Inns & Giant Olive will recognise their mutual interest in bringing in the punters.

I liked it more than I thought I would and I will go back to but you can't throw a brick in the air in NW5 these days without hitting a gastropub so competition is fairly fierce. A provisional 6.5/10.
Zonergem - 1 May 2011 13:48
Refurb nearing completion, scaffolding down, but bar area still being fitted out.
Looks like the pool table has gone & that area has become the kitchen & dining area.
Hal90.00 - 16 Apr 2011 18:24
Been bought by Geronimo Inns and undergoing the gastro makeover. Will be interesting to see if they can draw some of the punters away from The Oxford but this pub is in a relatively quiet location so if you don't know it's there you're not going to stumble across it.

Will be competing with a ton of other local gastropubs including the same owner's Lord Palmerston up in Tufnell Park.
Zonergem - 4 Mar 2011 06:14

They won't serve tap water. No matter how many drinks you buy. It "costs money" apparently. I mean, what would they do "if everyone starting asking for tap water?

Because clearly the moment they drop this shamelessly cynical, small-minded, morally repugnant, money-grabbing policy, their miserable stool-swaying regulars will immediately mob the bar, thankful for any excuse not to drink that pissweak Carling anymore.

Makes sense. After all, if you attempt to keep your customers happy, there's a risk they might come back. Luckily for the Lion and Unicorn, there's no danger of that.

Vile and a blight on the feisty little theatre company that's set up shop upstairs.

By all means visit, but feel free to miss the urinals.


theunready - 3 Dec 2009 23:37
Friendly standard pub.Could do with a lick of paint.The lady there Paula was very nice,friendly and bubbly.Locals were also ok.Rating-6
JOHNNYDORSEY - 4 Nov 2009 13:28
No real ale available when I visited, despite what the painted sign above the door says. I'd suggest a two-minute walk up the road to the Oxford Arms would be a better bet unless you want to watch some sport, as they have a very large screen.
pubcollector - 12 Jun 2009 22:05
This isnt the greatest pub and it still had three redundant hand pumps sitting amongst a standard draught range. They have Sky and Setanta, but the only TV I spotted was a small one above the entrance (maybe there is a screen in the back that I did not see). The pool table and dartboard mentioned previously are still to be found in the back room that leads onto the beer garden at the rear.

This is a residential local in an area that leaves a lot to be desired and I doubt that Ill be in the area again to revisit here.
Strongers - 27 Apr 2009 15:27
I paid a brief visit to this pub at 1330 today. It is under new management, and I had the pleasure to meet the new manager, a welcoming lady from the Midlands.

Visitors to the Lion & Unicorn will find plenty of space both inside and out, and a traditionl, warm interior featuring a wooden bar. There is a large smokers' area in the front garden, and a pleasant beer garden with a tent.

The rear of the pub is spacious and contains the dartboard and pool table.

No real ale is presently available, but there are three handpumps which the landlady intends to bring into use as soon as viable. She stated she has run a real ale pub [the Moot] in Nottingham and is very keen to reintroduce real ale to the L&U if enough local trade could be canvassed. She also plans to reintroduce food to the pub.

The upstairs houses a theatre which stages plays each weekday apart from Monday, and for details of any shows you are advised to contact the pub directly.

The Lion and Unicorn has had a chequered past, but under new, keen management it deserves a chance, and all the support and encouragement it can get in order that it can make a success, not only of real ale, but as a pub generally.
lad_newton - 27 Nov 2007 15:37
I paid a brief visit to this pub at 1330 today. It is under new management, and I had the pleasure to meet the new manager, a welcoming lady from the Midlands.

Visitors to the Lion & Unicorn will find plenty of space both inside and out, and a traditionl, warm interior featuring a wooden bar. There is a large smokers' area in the front garden, and a pleasant beer garden with a tent.

The rear of the pub is spacious and contains the dartboard and pool table.

No real ale is presently available, but there are three handpumps which the landlady intends to bring into use as soon as viable. She stated she has run a real ale pub [the Moot] in Nottingham and is very keen to reintroduce real ale to the L&U if enough local trade could be canvassed. She also plans to reintroduce food to the pub.

The upstairs houses a theatre which stages plays each weekday apart from Monday, and for details of any shows you are advised to contact the pub directly.

The Lion and Unicorn has had a chequered past, but under new, keen management it deserves a chance, and all the support and encouragement it can get in order that it can make a success, not only of real ale, but as a pub generally.
lad_newton - 27 Nov 2007 15:37
when Nick & Jane ran this pub it was under very unfriendly and actually quite nasty management. Therefore bringing in new people had to be a good thing eh?.... AH NO!
Talk about running what could be a lovely little pub and earner into the gutter! Bev is soo unfriendly and rude and her partner is a complete alckie who takes all year to serve you. If the brewery had any sense at all they would take a look at their recent takings and think to themselves - okay something is going well here. The pool team were driven out because Bev decided to Barr the captain for telling a rude joke (hello its a pub you run love, not a nursery) even the old staff cant stand her. Jukes was a lovely girl and a complete assestt to the place - where has she gone?
Its actually quite sad - I live very close to this pub and it would be lovely if the brewery could get their act together and bring in the type of friendly yet firm management that this place needs in order to live up to its potential of being a perfect, residential local - 4 now 4get it - Id rather stay at home.
summersun11 - 15 Oct 2007 01:05
This fairly large, spacious traditional style Victorian corner pub is set in a leafy residential street far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the main road to remain largely ignored by those with little sense of venturing into the back streets. My previous visit was only memorable for 3 redundant hand pumps and a sozzled up local who insisting on holding an indecipherable conversation while I tried to get served. Given the subsequent postings regarding new management I recently returned to see what, if anything, has changed. Firstly there were no signs of anyone worse for wear propping up the bar which can only be a good thing and secondly the 3 redundant hand pumps are now down to 2 albeit the London Pride occupying the third pump was, at best, barely drinkable. One of the pool tables has been removed but apart from that the place is pretty much as it was and probably has been for years. The interior is a bit dated and tired but sometimes this can be part of a pubs charm. There are several wonderful brewery and whiskey mirrors but the abundance of cheap plastic flowers doesnt do the place any favours. The rear pool and darts area is partly screened off by an isolated fireplace and there are several fruit and quiz machines dotted about as well as a juke box. The bare floors add to the basic approach and with a bit of imagination and better quality beers the place could be quite appealing. There is a shady patio at the rear and sectioned off tables under umbrellas at the front. As things stand it is a useful place to know if you want to lose the crowds and are not fussy about the beers. Otherwise its not really worth making a big effort to find.
RogerB - 3 Aug 2007 16:10
the lion and uni is a shithole its went way down hill the beer is dear and very flat the bar staff is slow and the new management is diabolic i would not reccomened this place to any1
gmanhartley - 6 May 2007 11:45
Used to be my local and was a great pub before the change of managment. Reasonable prices and always a good laugh. Very welcoming and you could always find a friendly face in there. But the new managment have driven out the regulars that made the pub what it is by being unfriendly, unreasonable and generally making it not a fun place to be. I play for the pool team on a Monday and i find myself not wanting to go. Any pub managment that treats their regulars that badly shouldn't be allowed to be in charge. Bring back Nick and Jane!
Bissell - 19 Feb 2007 13:50
Nice unpretentious place for a relaxing pint and a game of pool (two tables!) in the afternoon. Unlike many "local" pubs the regulars are a friendly bunch and embrace strangers rather than snarl at them. Informed by one of the regulars that the pub has gone downhill since the recent change of ownership. Not having been before the takeover, I am unable to comment on the accuracy of this. Good pub though. Well worth a visit.
LagerLout - 13 Dec 2006 18:49

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