January 31, 2015

Nambucca, 596 Holloway Road, Islington, N7 6LB

Rewind back to 2010 when Nambucca was a place full of indie discovery and a regular London haunt for the likes of Frank Turner and Laura Marling. It was a popular venue with locals and music fans travelling from all over the country to see their favourite bands hitting the worn down stage. Now, after a change of ownership in October 2014 and with a brand new look, has Nambucca reclaimed that staple reputation it seemed to have lost?

Outside, the steely grey bricks and old sign are still reside, giving the illusion of familiarity and comfort. I enter and am struck by a completely different interior. A mosaic of doors line one side of the wall with the bar facing it, complimented by low hanging light bulbs. I struggle to decide which is more captivating; a wall adorned with alcohol or mismatched doors… After a quick realty check I survey the lengthy bar. A decaying-style wall plays as the background to the bottles and vintage radios that line the shelves. I wonder if the damaged wall is a nod to the previous fire that ruined half of the building before.


The shelves are lined with a wide variety of rums, whiskeys and vodkas including house staples Jameson’s, Havana Club and Absolut. Compulsory house wines like merlots and sauvignons are also stocked but this isn’t the place for a wine drinker. It’s for fans that want to discover new sounds and dive into the London music scene. Drinks are also reasonable for zone 2 in the city with prices averaging on £4 a drink and £5.50 for a double.

The look and feel is completely different from the Nambucca I knew. You can now see the stage from standing at the bar which was previously impossible due to being bordered off. The open plan seems to make the space look much bigger and connected as a venue. The music is broad, attracting a spectrum of bands and artists from grunge to rockabilly. I visit on a weekday when there are no bands and I can only describe it as having a laid back drinking atmosphere complete with booths laminated by tea lights and scented by the sweet fragrance of floral incense. This place is a lot trendier but it hasn’t pulled any punters in.

Victoria Sluman who now runs the bar has built up a lot of promise for this place with a regular quiz night booked on Tuesdays and talk of adding a food menu. It’s a welcome addition to the Holloway Road family that includes The Intrepid Fox, Big Red, Wig & Gown and The Garage. Since burning down, it seems as though Nambucca has risen from the ashes with a new style, but will it last?


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