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Nightingale, Balham

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user reviews of the Nightingale, Balham

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

It's the only proper pub in Balham.
Extropunk - 23 Sep 2012 23:25
Agree with earlydrinker (below) that this must be about the last pub in Youngs estate which they haven't yet wrecked. Lovely external appearance with quality brickwork and proper windows, and inside, although sadly all knocked through, the front area still feels like a proper public bar, like all Youngs pubs had 20-25 years ago. Beer prices very high, but then they have to fund all those bonuses and refurbs, don't they!?
Beerwulf - 18 Sep 2012 20:37
One of the better pubs I sampled in Southwest London on Monday night. This one had a little character and also had enough customers to create a reasonable atmosphere. In addition to Youngs Ordinary & Special & Wells Bombardier, they also had 2 guests - Sambrooks Wandle & Adnams Sole Star. As the previous reviewer states, they also have Meantime keg options. The beer garden is tree-lined and runs up the side of a narrow street. There were a fair few people out there enjoying a reasonably mild early Autumn evening. Worth a visit.
blue_scrumpy - 13 Sep 2012 21:16
OK, I'm a local of 2 years and this is my local so I'm a bit biased, but having tried all the others in the area, this is by far my favourite pub. George the manager has made some real in-roads over the the last year in putting in a new pump and providing a more diverse (and very welcome) selection of beers and ales - including Meantime on tap and in bottle. Alongside this, the food standard and variety has improved as well. Keep up the great work!
fontsnbeer - 9 Sep 2012 16:49
It's still escaped Youngs' determination to ruin all their once great pubs, and turn them into soulless eateries. The Nightingale's still a real pub - and has been said before, a damn fine one too.
earlydrinker - 2 Oct 2011 19:30
Made my firts visit to The Nightingale last night and it lived up to everything that it claimed to be. A very nice pub, good old fashioned, typical English pub interior and a lovely beer garden at the back. Two excellent dart boards, one inside by the entrance and one out at the back. The bar staff were very friendly giving service with a smile (makes such a difference) whilst they had a good selection of beers and excellent brand of port scratchings. It is just a 7 minute walk to Clapham South tube. The pub has an average quiz machine and it did have an outside TV but was not turned on so I am sure if they show sports, however they were advertising the Rugby World Cup. I for one will definetely be going back and feel this is probably the best pub in Clapham South area....
gumbo - 14 Sep 2011 16:47
Very good.

There are a few nice little touches like board games, wireless internet, a good baby changing room, and so on but the best things about this place are very simple - it's cosy, friendly, just all-round very pleasant really...
TFP - 9 May 2011 19:06
Very friendly, quiet and clean !
And they're dog friendly too which is always good!
I had a good time after a long walk at the Common. No screaming kids, no annoying punters!
Loved it!
GVF - 22 Feb 2011 12:22
I and a few colleagues have just started using this pub after work. It is a spit and sawdust gaffe that has character. We started using it as we heard that there was a dart board. Sure enough there is a dartboard and you can see why it needs replacing. We get in there at about 3pm and by 4pm onwards all the locals are in and want to use it as well. Frustrating from a selfish point of view that we have to share it but because of this we have mingled with the locals who have generally been quite friendly although I think it will take quite a few more visits before they trust us!!

Lager is good with Fosters and Heinneken. Obviously real ales for those that want it and Guinness as well (I personally found it a little warm and have reverted to lager as a result). It is not a cheap pub (£15.90 for 4 pints) but overall I will continue to visit.

If anyone from the pub reads this....please replace the dart board. It looks like it has been up there for about 10 years. They are only £30 for a top quality board.
Plod666 - 18 Jan 2011 15:50
Great local pub that Youngs have thankfully spared the refit so many of their other places have suffered. Let's hope they leave it that way.
Nice atmosphere. Relaxed and friendly. Decent pint of Ordinary.
Highly recommended. Wish there were more like this one.
Air.Guitar.Maestro - 5 Aug 2010 16:15
Nice little local. Good beers, nice bar staff (brought a dog biscuit and water bowl out for little Eric within 30 seconds of walking in the pub), pleasant folk drinking. Recommended
richakn - 24 Jun 2010 21:22
came 2nd in camra`s south west london pub of the year comp.
areap - 6 Mar 2010 21:03
By far the best pub in the local area. A 'proper' pub with a warm welcome and good beers. The food is decent as well. There is a sense of community about the pub and it always seems like a relaxing environment in there. Staff are always friendly and welcoming. Even though I have to walk past a few pubs to get to it from my house it's always where I go if I fancy a pint.
robfar1 - 24 Feb 2010 12:45
This is a decent Young’s pub that had four of their ales available along with Bombardier and a selection of standard and premium products during my visit before Christmas. I found the staff to be very friendly and the locals harmless. There were too many people eating for my liking, but there was a Christmas party in attendance so maybe the number of diners is not normally so large.

There is a dartboard at the front of the pub where the bar is very narrow, but there is plenty of standing space and seating at the rear where the pub opens up. There is also a good sized well kept beer garden out the back that I’d imagine being nice in the summer.

The plasma screen was off and I spotted no sport advertisements and I cannot remember any background music being played. However, I did spot a lot of photos of past charity events on a back wall and an admirable cheque of £425,000 highlighting the monies raised by the pub for various charities since 1979.

I’m not the biggest Youngs fan, but the Guinness was good and I liked it in here so would gladly return.
Strongers - 8 Jan 2010 12:24
A full range of Youngs beers, very busy at 5pm on a tuesday.
Food seemed to be going well, my mate enjoyed his sausage sarnie.
Youngs Golden Lion was very good. Like this place.
rob372 - 2 Dec 2009 15:34
This is one of an increasingly rare breed - a Youngs pub that hasn't been turned into a soulless gastropub. The two bar layout is still discernible with the island bar occupying a wooden-floored area, with a carpeted room beyond. I'm not a big fan of Young's beers but the pints of Special and Winter Warmer I drank were the best I've had in a long time.
My friend and I opted to eat here which proved to be a mistake. I had the 'Great British Breakfast' - £5.95 for a plate of food which included one sausage and one pathetically small piece of bacon. My friend had sausage and mash (seven quid) and the mash was lumpy.
A nice pub but don't bother eating here.
holbornboy - 22 Nov 2009 22:34
A good pub!
If you dont know the difference between a wine bar and a pub then a visit to this place will solve all your questions.

mrloftysson - 23 Oct 2009 16:47
nightingale wins the guinness community outlet of the year
ramrod - 20 Sep 2009 16:28
Youngs pub that fortunately has been left untouched. Fine pint in convivial atmosphere. Had several before having a curry next door.
lout_from_the_lane_ - 6 Aug 2009 11:32
is also the first Young`s pub to get Cask Marque
areap - 19 Jul 2009 22:02
The Nightingale has just become the first Youngs managed house to stock a beer from a small independently brewery, Morrisey Fox's 'Pround of Pubs Best'. It's a malty 4% bitter. It won't last long so visit ASAP!

Let's hope it's the first of many.
ianbeer - 19 Jul 2009 18:46
The best pub in South London, possibly the whole of London.
dollygrimsby - 3 May 2009 14:23
They made me wear a novelty English hat for St Dragon's day. I am not a merry man.
anonymous - 24 Apr 2009 00:19
the nightingale pub is The publican`s community pub 2009.
areap - 18 Apr 2009 22:15
Great pub with a good range of beers for a Young's pub. Could maybe do with a touch up but this place has real charm. Food has got a lot better recently and great value.

Has to be one of the best boozers in Balham/ Clapham
stedrinker - 13 Apr 2009 11:45
They made me wear a novelty Guinness hat for St Irish day. I am not a merry man.
anonymous - 17 Mar 2009 23:46
Oh bigcolt, I can't hit the bloody thing even with a run-up!
arctral - 8 Mar 2009 13:10
Oh, Arctral, you only want the dart board removed cos you are no good at the game!!
bigcolt - 8 Mar 2009 09:00
Just wanted to clarify - the beer being lively enough to cause "problems pulling pints" is a good thing! Means it's never flat and insipid. Good stuff.
anonymous - 7 Mar 2009 17:43
All the beer has recently gone up by 8 pence across the Nightingale's area. Young's do have an interesting way of encouraging more business in the credit crunch.

Anyway, good news otherwise: the beer is consistent and good - just lively enough that the landlady has a problem pulling pints. Ordinary, Special, Deuchars and Bombardier on tap. Good bottled selection too, although I was a little miffed to find out that Champion's gone the way of the dodo.

Staff are friendly as ever and the dartboard is very popular (in fact I want it removed). However, if you do like darts get in early or prepare for a wait.

No music here and very little sport (yay!). One tiny TV in the corner, generally off. I'm told the food is very good and it certainly looks/smells it.

Complaints - despite the sympathetic refurb a while back, the chairs and benches are getting threadbare and warn - feels like a Network SouthEast train circa 1987. Oh, and the doors do not need to be opened halfway through drinking-up time by the warden, especially given how cold it's been lately. That smacks of nastiness, plain and simple.

Occasionally large groups of drunken inconsiderates can be irritating (popular curry-house next door), but I guess that's par for the course really. There's one young ginger bloke who always attempts to "borrow" fags too.

Otherwise, go. 8/10
anonymous - 6 Mar 2009 15:18
Bit of a walk from the station, but well worth it. A thriving little Youngs local, with an excellent range of their beers, well kept. Nice island style bar and good seating areas, plus a few stools at the bar. This is how a proper Youngs pub should be. Really good bet for the area.
OldRogue - 5 Jan 2009 14:03
I was last in the Nightingale a few Saturdays ago. It was great to see the place packed, and secondly that most of the punters where enjoying pints of Young’s Winter Warmer, instead of being drawn to the usual and over priced largers you normally see being drunk in Young’s pubs in this area of London. My dad used to drink here in the early 80’s, and like it was then the Nightingale remains at the centre of the community today, despite the fact that Balham is now totally unrecognizable from 25 years ago.
Combine your visit with a trip to The Eagle Ale House, and you'll have visited two of the best pubs in the Borough of Wandsworth.
Misk. - 12 Dec 2008 06:11
Paid an all too rare visit to The Nightingale last week. Topdog-andy's right - it's a damn fine pub. It's hard to see why Young's seem so intent on transforming places like this into soulless 'upmarket' eateries.
Not, in fact , that there are many places like this; the heart of the community, catering for a widely varied clientele, serving excellent beer (and, I gather, good food). It's hard to beat it. My only gripe is £3.15 for a pint of Winter Warmer - but that's a sign of the times, I suppose. And the Warmer was excellent.
earlydrinker - 24 Nov 2008 11:14
Damn fine pub. Dartboards inside and out. Well kept Young's beer. Excellent pubgrub (the cottage pie is fantastic). Stereotypical Young's decor. Possibly my favourite suburban London pub.
topdog_andy - 15 Nov 2008 16:10
Had my first pint in the Nightingale tonight. What a great place, good crowd in but served quickly. Beer was good, loved the decor. Will be going back for sure
HENDO - 10 Oct 2008 22:23
This pub just gets better and better. Decided to eat here for the first time tonight and was surprised at how good it was. For the price you can't get better. There is always a great atmosphere and a really traditional feel to the place. This is the definition of a "local pub".
londrink - 4 Oct 2008 00:18
I pop in here with my grandfather most sundays for a beer and a spot of lunch. A great little pub that can rightly call itself a proper "local" with polite and friendly staff and a fantastic fire in the winter!
willn - 21 Jul 2008 12:19
A great pub. So I understand they have already once turned away the Young's interior design crew, and the place is all the better for it. Perhaps the only change I have seen in there is the updating of the beer garden with the partly covered section and solid furniture.

Friendly staff. I never wait long to be served in here. Sometimes in Northcote road I think my thirst would be quenched quicker if I walked up the road to this pub.
toomuchgastro - 2 Jun 2008 22:39
Re dogs - not if they're making a nuisance of themselves, Mr Early Drinker !

And when was the last time you saw a dog getting a round in at the bar ?
JohnBonser - 21 Feb 2008 12:58
I assume the two previous comments relate to Lucius (or is it Feargal?) Both have been present every time I've been to the Nightingale, and I must say I think the place would be the poorer without them. Come on, JohnB; you say say yourself that this is one of a 'rapidly diminishing breed' of traditional pubs; weren't dogs always part of the mix?
earlydrinker - 4 Jan 2008 16:42
Very enjoyable visit last Sunday lunchtime - sadly this is one of a rapidly diminishing breed of "old school" traditional Youngs pubs.

First sighting this year of Youngs Christmas Ale

Note the extensive collection of bottled Youngs beers on a shelf high up behind the bar.

Thankfully, there weren't any dogs running round being a nuisance on my visit - but I do agree with the sentiments of the previous contributor.In a smallish pub like the Nightingale, they should be left outside, especially when food is being served
JohnBonser - 19 Dec 2007 13:04
Has the potential to be a very good, traditional local. Very good pint of Ordinary served here and the service is efficient and friendly. I won't be going here as often as I would like however.

It's let down by the incredible free reign that dogs are given in this pub. For a place that serves food and is family friendly this is neither hygenic or pleasant when quite large and noisy dogs are walking around the bar unsupervised. This can be threatening and I have encountered this on each of my 3 visits. As one of my acquaintances put it, it "runs the risk of seeming like a kennel that occasionally serves beer."

If the staff made sure dogs were responsibly secured it would be a top destination.
anonymous - 29 Nov 2007 15:24
A superb, friendly, happy pub, by far the best pub in the area. There is a TV & sound system, I've yet to visit & find either switched on, a blessed relief.
Let down only by the dirty & badly maintained toilets.
battersearise - 11 Nov 2007 18:40
Lovely place. I always enjoy the garden when the rain gives us a break! Perfect for a nice relaxed drink or two.
sunnydays - 2 Jul 2007 14:42
(£20 or a) Pint for the first person to identify "Frank". My guess is June.
anonymous - 20 Apr 2007 02:18
Charming pub, in a lovely location, with nice staff. Will definitely be back.
ONscotland - 15 Mar 2007 11:37
This is such a nice pub.

I used to be one of the younger customers here drinking coke with the family, but now go here a couple of times a week on the lager! Unlike the nearby establishments, the bar staff are friendly and welcoming.

Foodwise, I've only had the jacket potato with coronation chicken, which was good enough. The fire's also a good touch in the winter... just needs a little more attention from the bar staff to avoid going out, but that's a minor point.

Friendly bar staff, friendly locals, okay prices, lack of retro furniture and wooden floor. Keep it like that!
toomuchgastro - 20 Feb 2007 12:04
My favourite pub in this part of the world (though I haven't yet tried The Grove since its refurb).
The Nightingale always has friendly and welcoming feel,and the beer's good. A real pub, and a great community local.

earlydrinker - 30 Jan 2007 18:23
Excellent pub with great atmosphere and well kept beer
zappar - 15 Dec 2006 16:54
Excellent oche area, good beer too.
Dart_Man - 29 Nov 2006 13:28
Nice cosy little place. Excellent Young's beer, seems like a nice place to go on a Saturday afternoon, maybe have a spot of lunch. Although I've not had the food yet, so I can't really comment on that.
Muzthing - 28 Nov 2006 12:38
Top notch Youngs beers. Like a reviewer below I found the beer to be a degree or two colder than usual, and in extremely good condition.
As a bonus, has a dedicated darts area, with a very nice throw.
ChrisF - 13 Nov 2006 12:27
Good place with helpful staff, big contrast to the hope. It hasn't had a needless rubbish refurb. They had winter warmer on and I thought that perhaps Bombadier hadn't made it's way in here yet but it was round the corner. The 4 for £5 take out offer is now 4 for £6. They seem to have replaced Kew Brew with Banana Bread Beer,which I don't like. The barman said they may brew it again as a seasonal in the future.
mitomighty - 11 Nov 2006 11:36
Tip top special, great staff - so what else do you need in a local pub ?

No loud music and they've got that too
Beer_in_Clapham - 25 Aug 2006 12:49
Has the "Nightie" as I (affectionately)call it,got an improved cellar cooling sysyem in ? . Last night I had the best pint ever from the Nightingale. A gorgeous "cool" drop of ordinary. It was every bit as good as the ale served in the CAMRA prize winning pub-The Grapes.
On hot days,most real ale pubs serve it too warm,and it tastes to me like claggy cough mixture. With this "cooler" ale-they have got the best of both worlds.
Serve your beer consistently as good as you did last night,then the Nightie can claim the Grapes's crown next year
anonymous - 7 Aug 2006 11:28
A really pleasant place to spend a mid-week lunch. Very friendly staff. Very nice rear patio. Great real ale.

markbernard - 31 Jul 2006 18:28
I returned for a drink here a couple of times recently after many years and at first was quite pleased that it was pretty much the same. However a realisation gradually came over me, that my reaction of 'Aaah, still a charming local pub' was actually wrong - this is the same as it always was, a pokey little back street boozer full of sad old drunks whiling away the hours talking crap and reading the paper! True they may be talking about current events rather than football, and reading broadsheets rather than tabloids but its just as depressing! And doing a charity walk once a year does not automatically give charactor!!
tommy1798 - 19 Jul 2006 15:31
You can't help but really warm to this place, i've lived directly opposite for a year or so and the nightingale ticks pretty much every box as a local. Perfect for a swift weekday jar whilst the dinners on or a long boozey friday night with a few mates,the locals and a few arrows. Staff, drinks and food are generally good and the mix of punters is both extremely diverse and friendly. There's no jukebox or other music which only adds to the atmosphere. Everyone i've ever brought in here had loved it; mates, dates or the olds. I'm off to live abroad for year and will sorely miss the nightingale.
UncleJesse - 11 Jul 2006 12:14
A real locals pub in a very expensive-looking street;
very busy but Youngs was average
mtaylor40 - 2 Jul 2006 19:47
the nightingale walk on saturday was great raised over £16000.00 thanks you all.
anonymous - 1 Jun 2006 10:01
A proper pub - Youngs, please leave it as it is and do not ruin it like you have done the Grove.

Very happy with the new late opening hours - was very grateful to be able to have a great pint on Bank Holiday Sunday after 10.30!
anonymous - 4 May 2006 09:49
i see the NIGHTINGALE WALK is on again.27 may 2006
sign up starts 16 april 2006
areap - 2 Apr 2006 22:18
Have to agree with eveeryone else here, definatly a lovely pub to go to for an afternoon beer. i missed out on the champagne breakfast offered on Boxing day though. wont happen this year!
benappetit - 9 Mar 2006 11:34
Pretty much all the reviews below are spot on. It's a rare pleasure to come across a proper pub in London, and still more surprising to find one run by such friendly people in such an unpretentious manner. Unfortunately for me, the Hope down the road is my nearest pub, but the extra 5 minute walk to here is definitely worth it. Beers are kept well, the food is good, clientele a friendly bunch, and a dart board. Always a recipe for success. Good work.
womble54321 - 17 Jan 2006 14:21
This is a unique pub and such a refreshing change from all the soulless chain pubs of Clapham and Balham. Great garden, friendly staff and a superb collection of local character make this a fantastic pub. They also do some brilliant charity work. A wonderful place to spend an afternoon or an evening in summer OR winter.
commissionerfordo - 20 Dec 2005 11:08
this pub still has dart evenings and quiz evenings GREAT!
anonymous - 29 Nov 2005 12:34
great to see this pub in pub of the year comp.
areap - 27 Nov 2005 22:49
the refurb.gets 10/10 in my book.
areap - 3 Nov 2005 23:24
Just refurbished and, thankfully, Youngs have only passed a light hand over this little gem. Not a drop of character has been lost and the improvements to the garden deserve a robust trade in the summer.

For some decades the Nightingale has appealed to all walks of life. It's as if it was the only pub in the village. It certainly does have an almost unique rural charm within London.

The management have had the foresight to retain (and build on) that long standing atmosphere.

Almost the last traditional pub in the area. Both beer and food are consistently excellent. Worth travelling to see it.
ianbeer - 3 Nov 2005 04:51
samualbo - 30 Sep 2005 15:13
I agree with previous comments - this is still a fine traditional welcoming pub. Thankfully the Youngs hit squad have left the pub alone. Note in particular the photos of the annual Nightingale Walk - an annual 35 mile walk along the Thames Towpath from Putney to Windsor ( or is it vice versa ? )for charity.
This is a good example of a community local - still one of Youngs best
JohnBonser - 18 Jul 2005 14:00
good old english PUB.
areap - 30 May 2005 23:28
I have been using the Nightingale for a few years now and I feel that Joannie and the new management make the place. Please keep the place traditional and keep up the good work.
anonymous - 22 Mar 2005 15:14
Having used this Pub regularly for some time I endorse the comments previusly listed. It is a very welcoming Local and sometimes gets busy due to it's popularity. the clientele is varied and the staff friendly my hats off to Joannie and Management (new)for keeping the Pub Traditional.
anonymous - 20 Mar 2005 09:50
SUPERB..... The new management are dedicated to keeping this as a traditional pub. That's very rare in this area. Thorough refurbishment due in April 2005 but as a Pub and not a Bar/Concept etc., etc. .

Will remain very strong on support for local charities.

A remarkable House. Totally welcoming to all and fast becoming unique. Well-done the new hosts - who know me only by sight - no bias in this comment.

ianbeer - 20 Mar 2005 01:21
Existing management leaving early October 2004. I suspect the temptation to convert it into a Gastropub, or similar, will have passed Youngs corporate mind. Would they destroy one of the most outstanding 'traditional' pubs in the area???
'Gale User - 20 Sep 2004 15:54
Edie Wilkins retirement from this pub and managers being installed was the end of the REAL Nightingale. A good tenant makes a good pub, you needed a shoe horn to get through the door sometimes. I was a barman and customer from 1967-1986 but pop in occasionally nowadays, not impressed.. Keep up the good work Joannie
Jim Appleton - [email protected] - 2 Sep 2004 13:55
fantastic pub joanie makes the place, managers should be seen doing a bit more work though not just looking down there noses at people!!!!!nightingale regular!!!!
bob - 21 Aug 2004 11:44
Great pub, great atmosphere but as per Matt's mail..........Mr Manager at least look partially interested when we spend out hard earned pennies
Chris - 16 Feb 2004 13:45
Excellent Pub. If you shut your eyes you wouldn.t know you were in South London. I agree with the bullion dealers to road sweepers. Top notch.
Ted - 13 Feb 2004 13:30
i give it 8.5/10 it has a very nice beer gardern and the owner should be very proud
anonymous - 13 Jan 2004 15:15
Great little pub. Diversity of clientell is astounding.
Staff are quite helpful, but the manager couldn't care less
Matt - 1 Dec 2003 10:12
A real gem. A small Youngs boozer with a wonderful atmosphere. Customers range from street sweepers to bullion dealers and they all get on. Very strong on support for charities.
Ian - 7 Nov 2003 21:45

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