A classy new image for pub with an interesting history

PUBLISHED: 12:24 20 July 2007 | UPDATED: 14:35 07 September 2010

JOHN BAIRD Fortis Green Road, Muswell Hill Four star rating Muswell Hill s John Baird pub has cut all ties to the past with a major refurbishment and reinvention as a Thai restaurant. Once renowned as a hangout for down and outs, it has been given a face

JOHN BAIRD

Fortis Green Road, Muswell Hill

Four star rating

Muswell Hill's John Baird pub has cut all ties to the past with a major refurbishment and reinvention as a Thai restaurant.

Once renowned as a hangout for down and outs, it has been given a facelift and a classy new image.

The slick makeover may hide some of the stains of its trouble-filled past - but it's the new Thai restaurant that's more likely to pull in the punters.

Once a smoke-filled pool area, the John Baird's side room has been transformed into a classy space with 46 tables and a reasonably priced menu that should appeal to drinkers and casual diners.

Chef Toi Langton already runs the Elephant Inn Thai Kitchen in East Finchley but decided to open a new business in Muswell Hill when she noticed a distinctly Thai-shaped gap in the market.

Her menu sticks to traditional dishes but the ones we tried were all well prepared. Thai style spare ribs were sticky and rich, with the meat falling easily off the bone.

An excellent salad of barbequed beef came with a lime leaf dressing and plenty of chillies. It was incredibly spicy and not for the faint-hearted. but is a clear example of how Ms Langton wants to keep the food as authentic as possible.

Main courses cover chicken, prawns, pork and beef as well as several chef's specials, including fish and duck dishes.

Phed Markham, or tamarind duck, was succulent slices of breast meat in a sweet and sour sauce and the Thai green curry with king prawns packed a good coconut punch without being too hot.

The coconut rice was nice and sticky and the garlic prawns, which came recommended by the kitchen, were juicy big specimens with plenty of meat.

Desserts were the only disappointing feature of an otherwise great meal. Golden Bananas were slightly stodgy deep-fried fritters and came with a tooth-achingly sweet ball of honey and vanilla ice cream.

Back in the bar, there is a laidback feel, with a lounge-style area and comfy chairs as well as tables for families and big screen televisions and a large garden.

The new clientele is also more welcoming these days and it shouldn't be long before word gets around about the changes.

Go now, before everyone finds out.

Marijke Peters


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