Funny name for a pub built in 1868. Pineapples were about as common in north London then as champagne in the pit villages of South Yorkshire. But “the pineapple has been seen as a symbol of welcome ever since they were brought here,” I’m told by Poppy Wheldon, the very welcoming licensee.
Amid the Friday lunchtime bustle, with English ales gushing from the taps, and servers rushing Thai food down from the kitchen upstairs, the regulars occupy their standard stools at the bar. Here’s Mike Hollis, grappling with the Telegraph crossword. As usual. “I first came in here in 1964 when I was 16,” he confides. And here’s Jonty Boyce, formerly of the Audit Commission, a key player in saving this licensed gem from demolition.
It was the usual story. Landlord dies. Widow sells up. Developer moves in. Bulldozers hover like vultures. Luckily, the regulars mobilised. Newspapers were contacted. Quotes were procured from well-known names including Jon Snow, Ken Livingstone and Roger Lloyd Pack (aka Trigger in Only Fools and Horses). The stay of execution came on December 18 2001. Happy Christmas from English Heritage.
A key factor in the pub’s Grade II listing was the bar-back, a mesmerising vista of etched mirrors, carved mahogany and gold lettering that dominates the front “saloon” despite competition from two hugely imposing Bass mirrors positioned over open fires. No Bass on the bar, mind you. If you want to go for a Burton beer, the “Pineapple Amber” is really Marston’s Pedigree.
N1 Pale Ale from Hammerton Brewery fairly hums on a tongue still tingling from a Thai roast duck wrap
Nearby pumps dispense more local fare. The N1 Pale Ale from Hammerton Brewery fairly hums on a tongue still tingling from a wrap packed with roast duck in a tamarind sauce. Savouring one of each, I peer down a passageway, past a cosy enclave that opens out into an airy conservatory.
Under the stairs are photographs of Easter Bonnet parades dating back to 1964 – when the pub was a sprightly 96. It’s now approaching its 150th birthday and, mercifully, it’s going to be around for a long time yet.
51 Leverton Street, London NW5 2NX
020 7284 4631