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Famous Cock Tavern, Islington

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user reviews of the Famous Cock Tavern, Islington

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

Passable, busy pub that packs ‘em in (handy for a drink if going to the Highbury Garage). Good service even at times of maximum pressure.
mozzzzzz - 25 Nov 2011 10:54
Always pop in here after going to The Design Centre, beer always on good form on our visits and staff on the ball.
stroller - 30 Jul 2011 19:00
Ok, some real ale - I had a rather tired pint of Doom Bar but overall, Grim.
Dave_the_Bee - 21 Jul 2011 00:46
I usually try to find one or two distinctive features - either good or bad - in any pub I visit, but I really struggled here (but I suppose it is very handy for Highbury & Islington station). OK pint of Broadside, plus several other standard ales on handpump. Won't rush back.
rpadam - 17 Jun 2010 23:21
Me and some friends are cruising around places we visited pre-web. I worked at the Cock in 1987 (it wasn't famous then, and I can't figure what made it famous since) Me and a high school buddy landed there shortly after a change in management (we're Americans). We listened to the regulars lament the loss of the previous manager which happened just weeks before we got there...the guy we worked for was a real jerk. But back then it was a great neighborhood pub. The most famous thing that happened to us was Robert Plant was recording down the street and I got to serve him drinks a couple of times. Even though the guy I worked for was a jerk, I still had a great time. We lived above the pub and worked 5 1/2 days a week...but the regulars (mostly working class Irish) made it worth every minute.
joecrow67 - 26 Nov 2009 02:37
What exactly is the Famous Cock famous for? As a pub it is distinctly ordinary with unadventurous beers (London Pride, Adnams Broadside and Greene King IPA), Bland décor (don’t you just love the deckchair carpeting), little in the way of architectural merit (a drab block next to the tube station), dull layout (train carriage seating down one side, high tables down the middle and a couple of off centre sections), run of the mill entertainment (3 TV’s + Big screen for sport, fruit machines, quiz machine, Dusty Springfield music), automaton imported bar staff and no discernable history of any merit whatsoever. I can only conclude that the Famous Cock is famous for being famous which is, I suppose, better than just being Cock.

RogerB - 19 Sep 2009 09:45
This is a rather bland pub, but I have been in far worse pubs this close to a tube station. I found the barman to be friendly and Youngs Ordinary, Greene King IPA and Pride were all available alongside a selection of premium and standard lagers. Food is served, but I would want a very nice meal for the prices asked.

The background music was at a good level and I spotted three plasma screens used for showing Sky Sports. There is a beer yard out the back, but the extractor fans for the pub create a terrible din.

I would pop in here again if I fancied a quick pint before embarking on a fun packed London Transport journey.
Strongers - 24 Aug 2009 00:46
The Cock's ok to drink in and has a convenient location right outside the station.

Cock though could also describe some of the Arsenal fans who drink here on match days. Honestly some of them are like chav versions of Prince Charles - lamenting about the good old days and how things were done properly then - I have some sympathy for this but just move on.

To be fair pubs near Anfield have probably been similar since 1990


murgatroyd - 9 Aug 2009 00:20
This is a dreadful pub with rude, ignorant staff who serve people in random order. Avoid it at all costs.
seagullfan - 16 Jul 2009 07:39
Green King IPA, Youngs Bitter and Fullers Pride, but a tad expensive.
oftenscore6 - 16 May 2009 15:41
Not a bad boozer, beer is ok, food fine. wouldn't go out of my way to go here, but ok if next to tube. Much improved since referb.
JockStrap - 1 Feb 2009 16:12
This is a convenient pub next to the tube - I sometimes go here with a friend on the way home from work. It is not particularly nice, but not completely grim, although I have never dared to eat there. It is heaving on match nights, but then you expect that in Islington. As other people have commented, the pub is full of handbag and wallet thieves. Do not let go of your bag here, ever, and do not even put it next to you on a seat, even if you are holding the strap. Keep it on your lap or it *will* go....I speak from experience as over the years I've had my bag and wallet stolen here....
krismunroe - 7 Dec 2008 13:54
Since refurb is very nice, great for meeting mates in. Single female friends more than happy to pop in there to wait on their own rather than stand at station. Clean, nice food, decent wine. Staff polite and friendly. Mobbed on matchdays but then so are most of the pubs in the area.
celt7 - 6 Oct 2008 17:04
Better than it looks from the outside. Barman was really nice and friendly, and beer was OK. I've been in a lot worse (particularly in Islington)
Upton_Parker - 11 Sep 2008 17:32
I've always liked this pub - OK so it's a bit rough around the edges and some of the clientele leave a lot to be desired but the beer is OK and the food isn't bad. But if you are passing, get a seat by the window and you can watch the world go by.
BobOs - 28 Aug 2008 13:57
Looks like a neat pub by the underground. Was showing live football. Also the buffalo bar which has live music is just next door.
aleman - 18 Apr 2008 20:14
One of the worst choices for a drink in Islington, but it's near the station and so easy to meeet people here. Saying that, the nearby Wetherspoon's is a better choice - and not often you can say that!
Greshon - 11 Mar 2008 00:13
I've just finished a sixteen month stint working at the famous cock and have to say its not all that bad! Granted its a little rough around the edges and needs a refurb (to my knoledge its getting one this spring)but while i was there we had some really great barstaff, kept the real ales in good condition and the food was far better than most places in the area. Yes we had a few bags snatched and wallets stolen but HELLO its highbury corner and next to a tube station!!! I was the person that found anonymous's wallet in the ladies loo cistern, it was soaking wet, contained no money or i.d so yes it probably got thrown away! The management and staff are not responsible for peoples belongings. In ten years of living and drinking in central london pubs I have never lost a bag or a wallet no matter how drunk i've been, yes im lucky but i also keep my things safe. You'd be amazed how many people would go outside for a fag or go to the loo and leave phones and bags unnatended, which in my opinion
is crazy. Highbury corner like many places in london has more than its fair share of theives and chancers
and crime is rife. Its a shame most people only ever comment on bad experiences as we had many a happy satisfied customer. As for rampentwurzel, seems like your just jumping on the bandwagon of the previous comments.
Digger74 - 7 Feb 2008 21:27
My typing is getting worse;)
tottenhamsean - 25 Sep 2007 09:55
Not sure this is the place tyo p[ost this but here goes.
This review is about the Venue beneth the cock, boogaloo?!
A good little venue, well set out with a good barmaid
However.
Why is it that venues liek these only sell Lager?!
It's all bottled beer here(no Draught) so why not get some Newky brown or Bottles of Draught Guinness in|?
It really did ruin my nioght here on Sunday.I cant understand it
tottenhamsean - 25 Sep 2007 09:55
No need to apologise to all the Gooners.
Real Gooners drink elsewhere.
adeybaby2001 - 15 Aug 2007 23:29
Awful pub. I'm sorry all you Gooners out there, but this pub stinks. Why? Here's some easy ones.

1. The pints are over 3 quid. Disgustingly high charge, presumably because they have a lovely outside area for smokers and live football> Erm....so does the Garden down the road. Oh, and the equally unimpressive Junction......

2. The staff are a miserable bunch. Try getting back on the prozac and off the morphine, losers!

3. It's not really got much variety. Standard lagers such as dishwater Fosters and dishwater Grolsch (though somehow they've contrived to make it taste even more like dishwater by not cleaning the pipes. Ever.

4. It's a thieves den. My fiance had her hand-bag stolen there, and despite CCTV this is a hot-spot for thieves. And no, I don't mean Gooners you guys are fine, just the pond-life who walk Upper Street.

Never going in again. Atmosphere is cr8p unless it's match day in which case hold on to your bags and enjoy your over-inflated priced beer.
rampantwurzel - 1 Aug 2007 16:46
Keep hold of your wallets....
I have been to this pub a few times before on the way to the tube and it's always been ok, until last week.
I realised that my wallet was not in my bag the following morning. I rang up this pub to check.they informed me that a wallet had been found in the ladies loos that morning, therefore it must have been stolen. They described it and it seemd like it was mine, but they couldnt find where it had been left. I rang again later to ask the guy with the safe keys, only to be told that after they had found it, it had been lost or stolen again whilst in their hands!What kind of pub doesnt put things like that in a safe?!!I won't be returning there.
anonymous - 10 Apr 2007 13:53
The new managers here are doing a fantastic job. The pub has really changed over the past month or so. Its so much cleaner and the staff are really friendly. Really enjoyed the Arsenal/Tottenham game in here a few weeks ago. They only let arsenal supporters in on match days so theres never any trouble, its great. Had a perfect pint youngs too!
Not sure what live premiership match reeny was trying to watch on a monday night?
overall this pub is a great place to catch the football.

anonymous - 12 Dec 2006 11:26
Just wondered what the point is in showing live premiership matches...but without the sound on? Despite half of the people in there watching the game last night the barmaid just laughed when i asked to put the commentary on. Nevermind though...as a result my mates & i spent our beer money in a proper pub (The York) instead. Avoid
RemiGarde - 5 Dec 2006 14:47
Always done me proud, The Cock, but I only usually go on match days. Getting stuck in a pub with a thousand people wearing Arsenal shirts, all trying to drink a dozen pints in a couple of hours - that's my idea of heaven.

I do feel a bit sorry for the plod, though, They have to spend match day shivering in the rain outside the station while we whoop it up inside. No wonder they glare at us poor Gooners!
ye73812 - 17 Oct 2006 22:48
I've been in worse places.....good location for meeting, usually a spare seat (except on matchday/Champs Lge nights), shows the footy - not somewhere to spend the night but does the job as an hour rest.....
jamesheal - 3 Jul 2006 14:25
I fell into the trap mentioned in a previous comment of coming in here because it was right by the station and I was meeting a few people. This turned out to be a big mistake as we ended up staying for a little while - not something you'd want to do in here. The service was hit and miss with some staff decent enough and others just uninterested, though I'm not sure if they bother clearing the tables more than once every two hours as no-one did for the duration of my stay. Not pleasant. If I'm ever in the area again, I certainly won't come here.
C.B - 11 May 2006 17:27
OK - nothing special; beer ok, wine ok. I didnt seem to have as bad a service as other contributors and it was very empty on my visit. I can see though that there is potential for a bad experience
cuttysark - 17 Apr 2006 23:16
Worst pub in London. Just don't go - it's not worth the risk. Plenty of much better ones across the roundabout or round the corner. People only use it as it's right next to Highbury and Islington station but please don't fall into this trap.

The staff must hold a weekly 'who can be the rudest' competition - and to be honest it's hard to choose between them. I'd like to know who the brewery is for this pub and ask them to try it out. It really is the worst pub in London.
BillyBeans - 10 Apr 2006 11:13
Full of teenagers last time I was in. I was served quickly, but the tables were in a state. My one looked like it hadn't been cleaned at all that day.
anonymous - 27 Mar 2006 19:15
Sometimes there's a scary group of winos in here. It's a bit dirty and bar staff are unfriendly.

digicat2 - 18 Mar 2006 20:41
Dull, next to the station, terrible bar staff.

Try the Hen & Chickens or Lush if you have to stay this close to HIghbury Corner
anonymous - 11 Jan 2006 13:52
I was insulted by the bar staff here for asking them to put on Sky Sports One (they have about 7 screens so I did not think it was a problem). One barman said "If I have time." I asked another young girl who kindly switched it on for me only for the barman I had asked originally to turn it back over to the news channel. When I went back to the same barmaid she called me a "bastard" before I even siad anything to her and despite me not being rude to her in the slightest! What ever happend to customer service?

Needless to say if I see the Barman who was a complete arsehole to me and who obviously taught the young polish girl the word 'bastard' in the street I will give him a good kick in.
Ale4All - 20 Dec 2005 12:03
I used to work there in 1998. The manager was using a cask filtration kit, which is to say that at the end of the night, anything in the lager & stout driptrays would be filtered in to the real ale casks in order to improve his stock levels.

Doubt that's being still being done as those kits are hard to get hold of, what with being outlawed by most companies, and so the manager probably took the kit with him when he lift.

Still, such practice is, if being done without the right type of filter paper, one possible explanation for the reported recent state of the ales...of course, another much more likely explanation is that they are being poorly managed.
anonymous - 14 Dec 2005 01:44
Good place to meet before going gigging/clubbing at the Garage across the road, or heading off on an Upper Street pub crawl, although there are far better pubs in this area.

I wouldn't bother with the ales, as they haven't got a clue how to keep them properly. However, apart from that I've generally found the service to be quite good. Also good if you like football as you will get a view of one of the many screens wherever you are in the pub.


anonymous - 7 Dec 2005 16:14
Whilst doing our marathondrinker.co.uk reviews (linked from this site),we went into the pub on the 13-Oct and the following happened:

"As Su got to the end of her first and only Adnams we noticed huge amounts of sediment at the bottom which looked like wood chippings.
I kindly went to the bar on the way out, in no way looking for a refund and said to the American barmaid:

me: just to let you know there is a lot of sediment in this glass - its the Adnams
her: well it will just have to stay there, I'm too busy at the moment
me; (to a now crowded bar) I was just letting you know so its not sold to anyone else in this state
her: *shrug of the shoulders*
me: I'm not after a refund...it's been drunk... I was just telling you to check the barrel.

Now its the Infamous Cock and I would never return."

Obviously nothing has changed here. Avoid.
jubbely - 14 Oct 2005 15:24
In here last Saturday 17th Sept. before going to the Garage across the road, bought a pint of Adnams for my mate Gav. Pint didn't clear, a bit cloudy and tasted not great. Politely asked the staff who palmed us off onto the manager for a fresh pint and/or her opinion of the pint. No change here, barrel had just been changed and she would not stop to taste the pint or give a fresh one and just ignored us. Tried to talk to her when she was clearing glasess from tables, shrugged off and told that she wouldn't listen. Pint dutifully poured over the floor as we left.... Crap pub.
mark1208 - 23 Sep 2005 23:57
This pub is awful. A poor man's Weatherspoons but without the low prices: it is exactly as low-quality, sticky-carpeted and atmosphere-less as you would expect from a pub that is next to a tube station.
OCW - 12 Aug 2005 17:01
Ok, so you wouldn't necessarily want to spend your whole evening in this pub, but it has been on the wrong end of some unfairly harsh criticism here! It's a reasonable pub that has acceptable service, a nice atmosphere, comfortable seating and standing areas and a decent big screen for watching the footie. Granted it's pricey and there are better pubs within a few minutes walk, but for use as a meeting place, part of a crawl or for a quick marginally cheaper pint before moving on to watch a gig over the road in The Garage, this is a perfectly good option. In my opinion it has more character and more of an "organic" pub feel than the usual plastic places that spring up this close to a tube station and the Buffalo Bar downstairs is also good especially on a Club Beer night.
Mr.Monkfish - 10 May 2005 11:57
I worked at the Cock briefly but memorably in late 1985. The landlords were John and Penny and their dog Benji.It seemed like a nice place then. Part of the reason I took the job there was because they had the wording on the outside of the building "We do not discriminate because of...sexual orientation..." and I was gay and coming out of the closet. I kept my sexuality hidden, young and cute I got hit on all the time by male and female customers...Haven't been back to England in 20 years but planning on a trip next year. I have to stop by and see the old place - pity everyone says its a dump now.
anonymous - 16 Mar 2005 07:26
Why anyone would choose to drink in this place is beyond me. You've got stacks of better pubs within a 10 minute walk. Walk down Upper Street and from The Garden down there are lots of better places. The Cock is not nice. Being next to a Tube Station it's not going to be!
fatherpierre - 10 Feb 2005 00:26
An ok pub, certainly a much cleaner and better option on the weatherspoons next door, unless you are a tightwad.


Venom - 2 Jan 2005 23:52
Can't believe some of the positive reviews of this place below. At the risk of repetition this is a below-average, next to a tube, chain-pub with zero atmomstsphere and some very sad clientele. I have only been in to meet folk who have come in from out of town and it's hard to miss as a meeting point. Beer is OK but generally it's centainly worth walking down St Pauls Road (Alwynne/Centuria) or Canonbury rd (Home) to find far superior venues to suit all tastes.
Dan - 17 Nov 2004 15:31
Nasty next-to-tube type place.

You get the feeling that you're going to get your possessions stolen when in there!

Avoid.
Peter - 30 Oct 2004 14:15
An above average next-to-a-tube-station pub. A statement that would still be true if I was to give it 3/10.

But I'll give it 4/10 because I'm so bloody generous. It's a bit dingy and generally rubbish. A similar (but different) atmosphere can be achieved next door at the weatherspoons for half the price. Otherwise there's a couple of other decent pubs nearby. Go there instead, your mate will have a mobile phone, you don't have to wait in the pub next to the station...
travis - 14 Oct 2004 10:05
Almost empty on a Sunday lunchtime which may tell you a lot about it; the only real ale Courage Best or Directors; food mediocre. Not a welcoming place.
beeronaut - 30 May 2004 15:12
Abominabley slack service. Bloke collecting dirty glasses had to be coaxed into serving the back log of customers that were piling up fast. He then proceeded to go about serving the by now very irritable customers in what can only be described as slow motion. The Buffalo Bar downstairs though was fine, apart from the fact it was freezing cold.
Good for: Bands downstairs
thenationofjames - 20 Feb 2004 10:05
Nothing spectacular but above-average tube pub.

The place has had plenty of re-fits over the years. The best was when, following a criminal renaming (anyone remember the "Hogshead and Hedgehog" inter-regnum???), the toilets were re-incarnated for 'Hogs' and 'Sows'. You wouldn't believe the confusion.

Big Ern - 13 Aug 2003 20:57
a horrible, characterless typical next-to-a-tube pub. devoid of atmosphere.
Matt - 7 Aug 2003 13:46
It has been under new management since November 2002 and was recently completely refurbished. The cellar was a disgrace according to one of the current barman, when they took over, but is now cleanafter scubbing it down and tidying it up and cleaning the beer lines out. It would be interesting to know when Mr. Harper was manager, since there have been many improvements since november and is now one of the nicest pubs in the area. the food is good as well.
Paddy - 4 Aug 2003 21:03
Guys, I used to manage it, the kitchen was a disgrace, the cellar stank, and the company that run it could care less. Avoid at all costs!
Scott Harper - 28 Jul 2003 19:44
Good place to meet people before gigs at the Garage, but not much more than that.
Darryl - 21 Jun 2003 21:12
Probably one of the best pubs in the area and well worth a visit. It is ridiculously easy to find, being right outside the station and has an excellent atmosphere, good beer and highly able and friendly staff.
Patrick - 9 Mar 2003 13:20
my first vist to this pub was last week, the atmosphere was fantastic filled with a great bunch of staff and managment team who really made a special night for us as it was thw birthday off a friend off mine. Who had just had her bag stolen in a pub up the road.
Tara Williams - 1 Mar 2003 17:08
It's great that you have Angel Racing Food playing there. I am in the USA, but's I'd love to hear this gig. Any chance of getting a recording?
anonymous - 12 Feb 2003 23:18
I'm looking for a history of "The Cock", Holloway Road.
Is it this pub? Does it date back to the 19th Century?
Michael Sharp - imsharp@aci.on.ca - 14 Sep 2002 22:34
I used to be the assistant manager here at the Cock back in the mid 80's in association with Grosvenor Inns. My boss at the time was Gary and Sue McDonald. Could you please give me a contact address for them.
Robert Thwaites - 28 Aug 2002 11:55

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