You might not realise it when strolling past the traffic in the High Street, but Chipping Barnet used to be an important staging post on the Great North Road and perhaps as congested with carts and carriages as it is with cars now. This resulted in a thriving local economy with inns playing a key role.
At the beginning of the High Street (and at the top of the hill) is The Mitre, one of the town’s oldest inns which even received a mention by Dickens. This remains one of the town’s best pubs and business is still good (at a time when many pubs are struggling unless they diversify and become ‘gastro pubs’). The Mitre carries its history with aplomb. Records show that it existed in 1633 and the present building could date back to 1785. In recent years it has been carefully renovated and the old stabling area at the back is particularly evocative of the past. The pub is made up of a series of rooms with open fires, traditional furniture and on the walls there are pictures and other items relating to its history. Unlike a lot of modernised pubs, The Mitre feels completely authentic.
In terms of food and drink, the Mitre plays it very straight. It’s a great drinkers’ pub and repeatedly wins CAMRA awards. There is a straightforward, if unexciting menu (I don’t think much is prepared on the premises), however sitting out the back in the old stable area looking out at the large courtyard, it struck me how well suited the space would be for barbecues or spit roasts.
That said, the Mitre is rightfully a popular pub with a loyal clientele. I am very happy to have it as my ‘local’.
58 High Street, Barnet, London, EN5 5SJ
020 8449 6582
Thank you for your review which I think captures an appreciation of the building, which is a unique specimen of a truly unspoilt, historic pub. However, I think the review completely under appreciates the ambiance of this traditional pub and the product range and balance we offer. It is all of these things that makes us “a popular pub with a loyal clientele”.
I try to keep the Mitre the way pubs used to be: friendly, respectful and wet led. Indeed, we are 97% drink; only 3 % food. This is almost unheard of these days for a high-turnover pub outside a busy metropolis; and this is one of the things that we are most appreciated for by our customers. I have no plans to go modern gastro with the IKEA, Laura Ashley or industrial look! We are going to stay looking and being like a proper traditional pub! We attract old and young, women and men, several generations of families, residents from the town and neighbouring areas and visitors from afar, it is a truly unique community venue where nice people get to know other nice people, but not in an obtrusive way, even just a nod of the head for a familiar face. It is warm and friendly. Most people know me and the staff to some degree because they come regularly and because we offer them a welcome. Some come daily, some come once a year, it doesn’t matter as we welcome all who are nice!
I don’t know what you mean by saying “the Mitre plays it straight on drink and food”. Yes we offer traditional tap lagers like Fosters and Kronenbourg, but we do a whole lot else besides. We offer 4 big name house ales, three of which are not common to this area and have huge followings. Plus we offer 4 ever changing guests, from local and national breweries large and small, giving our customers hundreds of ales to taste over a period, light, dark, malty, hoppy, traditional, modern, porters, stouts! I am hoping to widen this selection even further over the coming months. As you note, we are a 6 times winner of the Barnet & Enfield CAMRA Pub of the Year Award and we were in the top 5 for the whole of London last year. I have also kept up to date with a craft lager and craft porter on tap, and this too is being extended. I have an extended bottled range and I offer over 20 fine wines (recently refreshed to include a sparkling Red for example!) and a full range of spirits. We also offer a range of coffees to match a coffee shop and a range of non-alcoholic drinks. And we are reasonably priced within the area.
On food, we play it traditional for want of a better word than “straight”. It is not the core of the business (we are a drinking pub) and to do anything more would require quite major modification behind the scenes and to the way the pub is set out for customers; it could change us completely and I don’t want to do that. We are lucky to have an abundance of drinking customers that appreciate us for what we are and long may that continue!
As regards your comment “I don’t think much is prepared on the premises”, of course we buy things in, every eatery does! A wet-led pub of this nature is not, for example, going to make their own pies or go to Billingsgate every day for unusual fish; but the ones we buy in are top quality which we bake to order, they are very well received! Other things, like salads, sandwiches and baked potatoes for example, we prepare from scratch to order. I think most people who eat here appreciate that we are not gastro and don’t expect anything more fancy. I am happy with that!
We also do live music every Sunday from 9pm: with country, blues, jazz, rock’n’roll, we’ve even got some 70s and Motown on our current schedule! And, if you don’t want the music, you can nip out to the Stables or the garden to enjoy the usual convivial tranquillity!
We also sell cigars!
I hope this response gives your readers a fuller appreciation of what the Mitre is like and they can come to visit us and make their own minds up! Of course, if they want something more modern, they go elsewhere, that’s fine too!