I grew up in a place called Whetstone, in north London. There used to be four pubs in Whetstone, and on occasion my friends and I would do the world’s shittest pub crawl. We’d start off at the Black Bull, work our way through to the Bull and Butcher and The Griffin, then round off our drinking at the Three Horseshoes. Sated with pissy lager, we’d end up with a kebab at Khan’s, before going to our respective homes to masturbate.
Oh, how times change. The Black Bull is no more, for one. The landlord was caught on CCTV being entertained by a prostitute (apparently), and now a Halfords stands on its site. The Bull and Butcher is similarly obsolete, having been replaced by some godforsaken club or something that never seems to be open. Khan’s Kebabs has long since become a Costa, leaving precisely ZERO late night food emporia in the whole of Whetstone, and the Three Horseshoes is now a gastropub. (I also masturbate slightly less.)
Which brings us onto The Griffin. Architecturally, The Griffin is lovely. It occupies what looks like a genuine, venerable Tudor building. It has a very large beer garden. It is adjacent to the original ‘whetstone’, where soldiers sharpened their swords before the Battle of Barnet in 1471.
It is also a fucking, FUCKING shit pub.
You see, now that The Griffin is effectively the only pub within a several mile radius, it has cornered the drinking market, meaning it can charge what the hell it likes. So you end up paying central London prices to drink in a Whetstone pub. Which is obviously not a good thing.
The selection of beers is also pretty crap. I’m far from a beer snob, but as far as I’m concerned, if I am stumping up north of a fiver for a pint, I expect at least some decent craft ales to be available. Not at The Griffin. In here, you’re lucky if the Doom Bar is on tap. You’re also lucky if the surly teenage bartender serves you within ten minutes.
There is also no atmosphere, which is odd given the place’s picturesque exterior. The inside of the pub is less atmospheric than a James Blunt concert hosted in a Wetherspoon’s in Darlington, which at least would have cheaper drinks on offer. Middle-aged divorcees come here with their dates. Estate agents come her for a swift one after work. Builders come here to leer at women. Dreams come here to die.
In fairness, The Griffin offers a fairly substantial menu, which I have never tried. For all I know, it could very tasty. I highly doubt it.
Should you ever find yourself alone in Whetstone, with nothing to do, on a random Tuesday night, the original Battle of Barnet ‘Whetstone’ is worth checking out. Then get a bus to fucking Finchley or something. Seriously, don’t bother The Griffin.
The Griffin, Whetstone: 1/10