For many generations the inhabitants of Kilburn, in North West London, have had to leave their beloved home streets and venture out to areas like Hampstead and Willesden for a drink in the sunshine. Now, at last, all that has changed.
The Old Bell on Kilburn High Road has saved them from the perils of pretentious Hampstead. The proprietors have built a beer garden that rivals the Hanging Gardens of Babylon if for no other reason than, as far as is known, beer was never in the Hanging Gardens and plants are not in The Old Bell's beer garden. Don't let this put you off though.
Built in what appears to be the shambled remains of an old snug bar, it has the feel of a monument gone to ruin. Crumbling walls frame a rebirth of decking and gravel - a phoenix in mid-bloom. This creates a tranquility that is needed to truly appreciate a good beer and a laugh. This, combined with a good menu1, make this a must for all visitors passing through this well travelled area.
Beer Gardens to Avoid
The Old Bell is not the only pub in the area providing such a service. There are two 'so-called' beer gardens at the northern end of the High Road. Unfortunately these are simply an excuse to drink on a dirty, busy, noisy main road.
The Brondes Age has a range of heavy wooden seats outside and can be pleasant, if you like to smell the local chippy mixed with traffic fumes. There is also Powers Bar which is always better seen from the inside, looking out. Basically the windows are so smogged up you cannot see out into the stream of traffic.
As the UK is dragged, kicking and screaming, towards a more continental café society, the mushrooming of these on-street cold and 'flu traps is increasing. In this part of the country a beer garden can only be used for three months of the year. A word to the wise, as well as the casually insane, outside of summertime avoid these gardens like the plague. Brrrrr.