The Handbook
The Handbook

New? It reopened the 12th October after an extensive refurbishment so we headed north to check it out.

Where? 1-3 Crouch Hill, Stroud Green, N4 4AP

On the Menu: Think hearty pub food but with a gourmet twist; in lieu of sloppy servings presentation is key here with special thought given to flavour harmonies. Expect dishes like Scottish scallops with crispy pork belly, celeriac vanilla puree and parsnip crisps, and venison haunch with hispi cabbage, straw potatoes, juniper, raisin and caper sauce.


First Impressions: I’m not a massive pub dweller but a glance at the menu was enough to tempt me into visiting. The restaurant is at the back by an open kitchen – which always ticks boxes – while the main dining area has a cosy cottage-like feel to it making it easy to imagine whiling away the hours here.

The Look: The ornate Victorian dairy-turned pub, once the site of the biggest creamery North London and now a Grade II listed building, features a high vaulted ceiling with exposed brick walls and huge murals that hark back to the pub’s heritage. A sparkling chandelier dangles over the restaurant area, illuminating the dining space alongside a scattering of flickering candles.

What We Ate: The crusty sourdough ancient loaf with churned butter that arrived as an appetiser looked like a bap from an East End café but a touch of flaked rock salt and butter just about made it pub-worthy. The mains were much better by comparison; a slice of root vegetable dauphinoise decorated with raisin puree, charred cauliflower and wilted kale was easily the star of the meal, mixing indulgent comfort food with unusual flavour pairings. The venison was a decent sized portion but after neglecting to ask how we would like it cooked, it came out a tad underdone for my guest’s liking.
old-dairyThe desserts were both aesthetically pleasing, presented in large, asymmetrical bowls. While the Bramley apple and blackcurrant parfait was pleasant enough, the accompanying granola crumble resembled a certain cereal and therefore seemed a bit misplaced. The lemon curd Eton mess on the other hand was simple but effective; blobs of zingy lemon curd, thick cream and a huge meringue hit the (literal) sweet spot.

What We Drank: We opted on the side of boring only divulging in a small glass of wine although as you can expect at a pub there were plenty of beers et al to choose from.

Go With: There was a real mix of groups dining from young to old(er) so take a few friends and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

Final Word: You can tell a lot of thought and effort has been put into the menu at The Old Dairy alongside it’s refurbishment. The flavours are imaginative and presentation is better than you may expect for ‘pub food’, all without breaking the bank. Crouch Hill is not my normal stomping ground so I’m jealous of the locals that can pop in anytime they want a bite to eat.

Like this? Try these: The Lighterman, The Imperial and No 32 The Old Town