Highgate is one of the nicest areas in London, and that seems to have rubbed off on its Wetherspoon pubs. The hit-or-miss pub chain gets it oh-so-right in this tucked-away part of north London.
The Gatehouse it quite possibly the fanciest Wetherspoon pub you’ve ever seen. It sits in one of the best parts of Highgate, atop a huge hill that’s a bit of a trek from the tube station. Among the quaint shops and upmarket chain restaurants sits this imposing boozer, looking more like a country watering hole than a cheap and cheerful chain pub. The exterior is painted in gleaming white, criss-crossed by black beams and interspersed by exposed red brick and hanging baskets filled with flowers. The village feel of the local area has clearly had a positive effect on this place.
Inside, the pub is a little dark, with swathes of heavy wood and carefully retained period features. There’s a labyrinth feel to the room with plenty of tucked-away tables suited to large groups of drinkers or diners. There’s also a small but very pretty beer garden out the back where you can enjoy a burger and pint in the sun, if the mood takes you. However, what really sets this Wetherspoon pub apart is the fringe theatre upstairs, unimaginatively called ‘Upstairs at the Gatehouse’.
Wetherspoon pubs unfairly have a reputation for their chav appeal, but there are some fantastic pubs among the group. This is one of them and the chav element is thankfully absent. Instead, young professional locals make up the bulk of the clientele alongside a few visitors swinging by to check out the famous Highgate Cemetery nearby. The theatre upstairs also manages to attract an arty, drama-loving element as thespians set aside any preconceptions they may have about the Wetherspoon’s chain to check out the shows.
Wetherspoon’s food is what it is. The quality is a little better here but you can still expect laminated menus complete with pictures in case you have forgotten what a burger looks like. However, in one of the more upmarket areas of the capital, this place does offer fantastic value for money. It’s a bit depressing now that Wetherspoon’s is so open about the calorie content of its dishes, however, and a full rack of ribs with BBQ sauce and chips is well over half of your daily allowance. Sigh. Salad it is.
This is where Wetherspoon pubs excel. The chain is well respected among many of the UK’s breweries and its low prices don’t mean bad quality. As one of the country’s biggest pub chains it is able to buy end-of-line ales in bulk and sell them on quickly.
Alongside the commercial lagers sits an eclectic array of real ale from big breweries like Greene King, Adnams and Fuller’s, through to more unusual, niche brewers such as Inveralmond and Central City. It’s no wonder the chain is so respected by CAMRA.
The Last Word
A visit to a Wetherspoon pub doesn’t need to be reserved for when you're making the pennies last until payday. Pubs like The Gateway are fantastic boozers in their own right.