40-42 Chalk Farm Road Camden London NW1 8BG
Escaping from the tropical storms, brought to us by this year’s British summer, I seek refuge at the first pub I find. Luckily, I stumble upon The Monarch. This is a pub that I’ve heard a lot about and have been meaning to check out but kept failing to do so. I had attempted to go in earlier during the week and was met with a charge of £5, so I am pleased when I’m not asked to pay entry this time. Charging a couple of quid is not a big deal, however being charged to get into a pub because there is an acoustic band playing, you don’t care about, when all you want to do is have a drink is annoying – rant over.
The Monarch is a pub which has become very popular in the ‘rock scene’ due to the Metalworks tribute band playing there every Sunday for the past few years. Led by guitarist and lead vocalist Steff Voxx, Metalworks covers classics from AC/DC, Metallica, Deep Purple and Sabbath and has had members playing from legendary bands like Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest to name a few.
Located between Chalk Farm and Camden market, the pub is somewhat hidden away from the noisiness and chaos of Camden Town Station. As I walk in, I am glad to see that the pub is relatively quiet for a Saturday afternoon. This is refreshing, especially when you compare it to other pubs closer to the station. The pubs are always so rammed you might as well go drinking on the tube during rush hour. I instantly see a nice mix of people including locals, ‘alternatives’ and a few tourists who I can only assume have got lost along the way or were also running away from the torrential rain.
I take a seat on one of their soft blue sofas right at the entrance of the pub. Despite their comfort, I realise that I have a bright pink spotlight on me and it makes me look like I’m in a display window. I am a bit on show as strangers outside stare in from under a small bus stop, huddling together, trying to stay dry.
The pub is very spacious. The walls are decorated with paints of monarchs, taxidermy animals, European flags (which I hope are only there due to the EuroCup), wooden tables, table booths and a pool table hidden away in the corner. Despite getting a great vibe, I start feeling like I might be entering a seedy brothel when I make my way upstairs to the toilets. The upstairs area is dimly lit with red wall paper. It makes me wonder whether this place could have once been a brothel in the Victorian era, full of beer-drinking, dirty old men with forgetful women sitting on their…laps?
I walk to the bar to check their drinks selection out, and I am slightly disappointed. Typical beers and ciders rule the draft handles. A thin fridge gives you options (or lack thereof) of your average bottled Bulmers and Newcastle Brown Ale etc. I am, however, intrigued by the Flaming Pig shot but figure it is too early for shots; but it’s a good reason to return. Uninspired, I stick to my usual. I get a cider, order myself some mac and cheese fried balls and go back to my seat. All this came to a total of £8.80 making it standard pub prices much like the rest of the pub.
The atmosphere could be improved if the music they play was different. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye but it’s more of a lazy Sunday afternoon vibe, rather than a Saturday to start off your night. The atmosphere is relaxed, pleasant and friendly overall. The smoking area located at the back of the pub is a nice and cosy with vines covering the walls. For a second, the sun comes out and I almost feel like I am on holiday in a warm country. This is helped by the fact that there is a table of 5 loud Spaniards right next to me. It makes me wish I was somewhere like Barcelona instead.
I would definitely come back even though the pub didn’t immediately blow me away. I am definitively coming back on a Sunday to check out one of Metalworks’ set and to grab that shot of Flaming Pig. The Monarch Camden has officially been added to my list of pubs.
Average Price Of A Pint: £5 // Opening Times Sun-Thurs: 12:00 - 12:30 Fri-Sat: 12:00 - 03:00