If you believe half my friends, London is a cold, unforgiving place. Comparisons are drawn (unfairly or not, you decide) with places like Coventry, Stalingrad, the Ninth Circle of Hell.
I protest these accusations when I can, but having seen Oxford Circus at 6pm, I can kind of see their point about Hell. In fairness, much of London is cold, grey, and lifeless. The people are unfriendly (myself included) and it’s often hard to imagine life outside the grim, concrete conurbation.
Amongst that, the Faltering Fullback is an oasis of peace and calm surrounded by chicken shops and train stations. I am loathe to share it with you in case it becomes overrun, but this kind of gem deserves to be found.
Just a short walk from Finsbury Park Station (and past several more pubs, incidentally), you could be forgiven for not realising the Fullback even exists. In fact, that’s precisely how my friends and I managed for several months, making do with the relatively mediocre pubs in the vicinity of Finny P station. With a gentle steer, however, you can find yourself into one of London’s most beautiful pub gardens and worst kept secrets.
The Faltering Fullback serves three ales – two regulars and a slightly more exciting guest, currently Beyond the Pale. It’s well kept, and regardless of what guest ale is currently on there’s always something nice to drink but that’s not the point. The point of this pub is the garden.
I lose count of how many tiers the Fullback’s terrace has. Speaking to the bearded resident/maybe owner, the number varies from week to week. Regardless, this is the highlight of every trip. Entering the garden is like walking into another world, a world separated from the hustle and bustle of London life.
It’s not just like wandering into a country pub that’s somehow been transplanted into zone 2. The Fullback is more than that. It’s a distinctly central London pub that somehow eschews all the central London stereotypes, standing apart on its own merits. The staff are friendly but not afraid to tell you to fuck off if you mess them about. The food (Thai) is phenomenal, but only during the brief periods each day when the kitchen is open. Even the garden, the unique selling point of this marvellous pub, only opens when the owner decides he’s ready to take down the no-entry signs.
Everything about this pub is served up on its own terms, and I love it. The fact that they serve good ale only serves to seal the deal. 5/5.