For whom the Spoons tolls

The Toll Gate, Turnpike Lane

Saturday 23 January 2016

Another date night at Wetherspoons.

Another date night at Wetherspoons. We trudge there to finish off an evening that started with a fairly grim walk from Blackhorse Road to Turnpike Lane, via the less pleasant parts of the various Tottenhams, to tackle a mountain of delicious albeit gigantic portions of Polish fare at Autograf.

The Toll Gate squats impressively at the site of the old gate, dismantled in the 1870s when the turnpike system was abolished. It’s huge. We traverse 3 sides of the enormous cross roads to access it. Expectations are low.

And they’re surprisingly countered. As the handful of mostly ⅘ star TripAdvisor reviews reveal, the regulars love this pub. Apart from David D:

“It feels like a pub where alcoholics of every nationality go to die. There is a general feeling of despair in there.”

Whilst that may be true of many of our 1-spoon Spoons, David, we disagree. (As does James R, the Toll Gate manager, who answers each review with painstaking politeness.)

It’s big but not cavernous. At 8PM on a Saturday night, no one’s eating. The atmosphere is good natured – we settle into a table, enveloped in a buzz of chat. The hop-strewn bar reveals a wide selection of ales. And drinking culture sentiments such as “Better to be safe than sober” adorn the serving hatches.

The clientele obey. A mixed bunch of varied groups throng the tables, drinking harmoniously. The Toll Gate has the feel of a London pub, communities mingling in Spoons-sponsored tolerance. A solid 3 spoons. We’d “Keep calm and carry on drinking” here again.

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