The Actress is a worthwhile diversion from a pub crawl on Lordship Lane. It’s not too cool for school, the music rarely reaches a deafening boom and it generally seems less chaotic of a weekday than its contenders on the main thoroughfare... Excellent for those, like me, revelling in the (really rather tired) twilight of their thirties. The L-shaped beer garden provides sunny spots and shade from which to people watch, particularly on Saturdays when Northcross Road’s market is in session.
More tolerant than overtly child-friendly, you’re less likely to encounter full-on kidmaggedon here than neighbouring haunts. Saturday lunchtimes are prone to a descent of Giraffe-like proportions and, as one of the few local pubs to show sport, match days can be packed and baby-tastic. But the prams are politely ejected to make way for the evening crowds, and weekdays are routinely a calmer affair. A quick note for little ones or the mobility impaired though: beware the perilously steep stairs to the loos.
With Meantime beers on tap and caraffes available on the rather truncated wine list, there's a minimum of modish posturing. The Actress is a safe pair of hands for pizzas, as the wood stone oven and lofty wall of takeaway boxes indicate. Toppings have taken a fancy turn of late with the appearance of n’duja and cured tuna ‘mojama’, but you’ll never spend more than £10 a pop. Granted you’ll eat better - and more authentically - at nearby Franco Manca, but the latter comes at the expense of personal space (and, arguably, your sanity). With burgers, pasta and salads available too, The Actress fires out crowd-pleasing food in a laid-back atmosphere. Think mid-boozing pause rather than destination dining.
Formerly, food was table service only. This seemed daft if a, you were at the bar to order drinks anyway and then had to march back to your table, laying in wait or b, you faced the mare of judicious bill-splitting between a crowd. The jury’s out as to whether this clunky policy was a tip-baiting exercise, but I did manage to sneak my food order past the bar staff last weekend - hopefully this triumph signals a change of tack.
In short, expect the odd local beer and cheap, satisfactory eats in a very pleasant atmosphere. There’s space indoor and out for gatherings (with the odd discreet nook for smaller groups), and the possibility of a good-natured, non-sweary crowd to accompany big sporting fixtures.