East-London-Liquor-Company-band

Tour A Local Distillery At East London Liquor Company

 

east london liquor company

TOUR A LOCAL DISTILLERY AT EAST LONDON LIQUOR COMPANY

Located in Tower Hamlets, East London Liquor Company is a distillery that produces vodka, gin, and whisky. There is also a bar and restaurant where you can taste their spirits – neat or in a cocktail – and a shop from where you can purchase your own bottle. If you’re interested in the craft of making spirits, you can book a distillery tour by emailing tours@eastlondonliquorcompany.com

East London Liquor Company, 221 Grove Road, London E3 5SN. Phone: 020 3011 0980

READ JAMES BLOODWORTH'S STORY

London was, at one time awash, with gin distilleries; in the 18th Century there were rumoured to be as many as 1,500. Nowadays, most of them are gone, but East London Liquor Company is bringing vodka, gin, and whisky distilling back to one of its historic homes, with a bar, shop, and distillery situated in an old glue factory in Mile End.

Situated in Bow Wharf carpark, the bar – an enchanting juxtaposition of high ceilings, marble, and straw-coloured brickwork – contains an exciting array of in-house gins, rums, vodkas, and whiskeys as well as imported liquors. These can be imbibed as they are, or they can serve as the foundation for the large array of unusually-named cocktails on offer (“Basiq Beach”, “Something Hoppy This Way Comes”). For those feeling peckish, a selection of cheeses and cured meats are available from the bar as well as more substantial offerings with an Italian theme from the restaurant.

Those wanting to see up close how the distillery’s own London dry or British wheat vodka are made – or to gain a better understanding of the world of distilling and do some tasting – can book a full distillery tour. Visitors can also pick up a bottle of in-house liquor from the gift shop to continue enjoying the craft distilling experience at home. But a word of warning: look ELLC up on a map before setting out, for it is one of those places that deserve the appellation “hidden gem”.

Note: East London Liquor Company launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £750,000 to drive growth in the UK and abroad. It exceeded its original target in under 24 hours and surpassed the £1 million mark in four days.

Feature photograph courtesy East London Liquor Company

 
One-Mile-End-band

One Mile End At The White Hart Brews A Diverse Array Of Craft Beers

 

one mile end brewery white hart brew pub craft beer london

ONE MILE END AT THE WHITE HART BREWS A DIVERSE ARRAY OF CRAFT BEERS

One Mile End is a micro-brewery located beneath The White Hart Brew Pub in Whitechapel. It brews ales in a range of flavours from sour to fruity.

For those who prefer drinks other than beer, The White Hart also serves spirits and wines.

The White Hart Brew Pub, 1 Mile End Rd, London E1 4TP, UK. Phone: 020 7790 2894

READ JAMES BLOODWORTH'S STORY

The White Hart Brew Pub in Whitechapel is a vibrant pub at the heart of the East End. At first glance, it looks very much like any other drinking establishment; yet, nestled amidst the facias of more familiar beer taps are more experimental offerings. These originate from the One Mile End micro-brewery downstairs – another hidden feature of this conventional-looking boozer.

The brewery itself was launched in October 2014. It has grown rapidly since then, so it also brews at larger facilities in Tottenham. As such, The White Hart has a fantastic range of pale ales you are unlikely to find elsewhere, at least not all under one roof. This includes firm local favourites as well as one-off specials.

It is perhaps prudent to ask a few questions before diving straight in to order a drink, however, for One Mile End produces a range of quite some scope. One glass of beer can produce a significantly different effect on one’s palate to another. This is particularly true should the drinker decide to order a glass of a sour beer (sour in a good way) such as Gose Fleur De Sel. Similarly, the Snakes Alive Dipa is infused with a strong flavour of lemon and blueberries, which may not cater to all tastes. That said, more conventional-tasting beers are available from One Mile End, including their ‘Docker’s Delight’ bitter, which easily stands the test of taste alongside more established brands.

In terms of trying some of what’s on offer from One Mile End you needn’t necessarily visit the White Hart. The beers produced by One Mile End appear regularly at a variety of events around the city, and those interested in sampling some of the beers can stay up to date on where to find them via the One Mile End blog.

Feature photograph by Ewan Munro [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr

 
Climpson-and-Sons-band

Visit Climpson And Sons For Delicious Specialty Coffee

 

climpson and sons coffee broadway market

VISIT CLIMPSON AND SONS FOR DELICIOUS SPECIALTY COFFEE

Climpson and Sons sources their coffee from around the world – Ethiopia, Brazil, Burundi, Kenya, and Colombia. Their flavour profiles range from dark chocolate and hazelnut to rhubarb and baked apple. You can visit their Broadway Market café or the Spitalfields Market coffee bar daily and the coffee cart at the Saturday market at Broadway Market, or take an appointment to visit their Hackney roastery and academy.

Climpson and Sons, 67 Broadway Market, London E8 4PH. Phone: 020 7254 7199; Pod 3 by Commercial Street, Old Spitalfields Market, London E1 6EW.

READ JUHI PANDE'S STORY

Climpson and Sons source and roast some of the best coffees from around the world. That should be reason enough to visit their café on Broadway Market. The small space has a tendency to be elbow-to-elbow even on weekdays with people popping in to get coffee to-go just before work, during lunch, or as an evening picker-upper. 

It’s open daily, and weekends are usually a whole different ball-game, with queues snaking out the door. The service is quick, the coffee is excellent, and if you are lucky, you might get a chance to sit on a bench with your coffee and a newspaper. Even on Saturdays, when it has a stall at the weekly market, the café is always full – come rain or shine.

Climpson were part of the first wave of specialty coffee roasters in the capital. They set up shop in 2002, and from a small stall in the weekend market they have grown to supply coffee to multitudes of cafés around the city, run a coffee academy (workshops, barista skills), their cosy café in Broadway Market, a pod at Spitalfields market, and retail coffee, coffee-making equipment as well as merchandise.  The coffee – sourced from around the world – is roasted at their roastery in Hackney.

On a lark one weekend, I decided to deviate from my usual Americano-no-sugar to a soy latte-one-cube-of-sugar-please, and my world turned to technicolour. It has quickly become a habit that I only tend to indulge at Climpson, for fear that I might be disappointed elsewhere.

Feature photograph copyright joesayhello - stock.adobe.com

 
London-Breeakfast-Guide-band

Your Guide To The Best Breakfasts In London

breakfast
 

YOUR GUIDE TO THE BEST BREAKFASTS IN LONDON

WORDS BY THE CITY STORY TEAM

“I went to a restaurant that serves 'breakfast at any time'. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.”

- Steven Wright

Breakfast. The first and finest meal of the day in London. This is a city that prides itself on-all day breakfasts. A town where eating a fry up at 4 p.m. will be greeted with cheers rather than dirty looks. Luckily for Londoners, the wonderful waves of immigration over the years have brought breakfast specialities from the world over to its streets – allowing us to revel in such delights as Turkish or South Indian morning cuisine alongside the superb native greasy offerings. The best breakfast in London is a debate that never ends and is dependent on where you live, how hungover you are, and what your budget is. Relationships have ended over best breakfast discussions. Plates have been flung. Unlike nutritionists, we truly understand how important the first meal of the day is, so we asked the capital’s breakfast believers for their favourite spots. This is not a complete guide but a discernible compilation, one that highlights the variety and quality on offer to the Londoner.

Arthur’s Café

Arthur’s is no longer a secret thanks to some Guardian journalist writing about it – but it is still the best café for breakfast in Dalston. Arthur’s has been in the same family for decades, and its no-nonsense, no-frills attitude to serving top grub at very reasonable prices puts it high on the best of the best list. You may still get served by Arthur, the oldest of the family and well into his twilight years at 90 years old. He still likes to make sure the people coming into his caff are treated in the right way. His grandson prepares the bread at the front of the café, but be warned: if you want a bacon sandwich you’ll have to get it in the morning as they prove so popular Arthur refuses to serve them after midday. Famously, Arthur’s Café never once shut during The Blitz, and that dogmatic spirit continues to this day. Dalston has developed a lot of gimmicks over recent years, but Arthur’s is steadfastly holding on and making sure that beyond the hype of E8, there’s still something real to visit.

Arthur’s Café, 495 Kingsland Road, Dalston, London E8 4AU

Sam's Cafe in Primrose Hill

Look – you want a north London café that has a jukebox curated by Robert Plant, boasts customers such as Helen Bonham Carter, Dennis Lawson and that bloke out of Supergrass, interior design by Jane Rainey Design (of “Lady Jane”, the Rolling Stones song fame) started by the son of the editor of London Review of Books?

Sam’s Cafe is it. Although it’s a London experience that might make you weep at the price [full English breakfast at £12 (yes twelve whole English pound sterling)], a trip to Sam’s is a treat that is never forgotten.

Sam’s Cafe, 140 Regent's Park Road, London NW1 8XL

Blackbird Bakery

Proper baking. Proper breakfast. These guys don’t mess about – everything in the café is baked from scratch and tastes like it (which means it tastes good, by the way). No preservatives, no “improvers’ – just flour loving goodness. Rolling with things like huevos rancheros, a lip-smackingly good BLT, and a Reuben sandwich, Blackbird do simple really well. They also make sandwiches of your choice to order. Fabulous!

Blackbird Bakery, Arch 134, Queens Road, Peckham London, SE15 2ND

breakfast

Dishoom

Go to Dishoom and eat the bacon naan!

What's not to like? Spicy, tangy, masala laced bacon and naan. It’s the breakfast you’ve never known you’ve wanted until the day you eat it, and then you want nothing else but this forever more.  Add the faux-Bombay café chalkboard, hand-painted signs, and photos from the ’70s, and Dishoom will charm your pants off. Also, breakfast at Dishoom is probably its least busy time, which, considering the restaurant’s popularity, is something to cherish.

 Dishoom, 7 Boundary Street, London E2 7JE.

Café Z

Cafe Z does the best menemen in the north east. (Editor’s note: Easy now! That’s some contentious claim.) A frying pan of deliciously runny eggs with such a variety of toppings that it puts pizza to shame. Café Z has a lovely vibe, décor, and staff – it’s a veritable institution in Stoke Newington and very popular with the locals.

Café Z, 58 Stoke Newington High Street, London N16 7PB

London Breakfast Guide_002

Parma

Parma does not mess around. We’re talking meat, meat, and more meat. The greasy fry-up is one of the finest in the south – always cooked and served at optimum, with care and diligence. The kebabs, if you missed getting one on your way home the night before, are well worth giving a go for breakfast. Don’t judge until you’ve done it; it could well be the breakfast that changes your life.

Parma, 412 Kennington Road, London SE11 4PT

Buhler and Co.

It has a really adventurous global brunch menu including Indonesian Gado-gado and a full Indian-inspired veggie fry-up with homemade paratha and paneer – because who doesn't want fried cheese before midday? The coffee is great, as are the bakes – especially the chocolate, halva, and tahini brownie. It also has a back garden for al fresco breakfasts. It gets busy on the weekend, but it's worth queuing for. Afterwards, you can take a stroll up to the picturesque Walthamstow Village and explore this quaint North London neighbourhood.

Buhler and Co., 8 Chingford Road, Walthamstow, London E17 4PJ

London Breakfast Guide_009

The Rochester Castle

The Rochester Castle on a summer's day after doing a sleep-in shift is utterly perfect. You get that cheap-as-you-can-get Wetherspoons breakfast but in one of the best buildings they own. There are endless refills of coffee, a calorie count on the menu (if you are so inclined to worry), but best of all, if you fancy a pint with your eggs and hash browns, the array of beers on offer will keep you in the pub well past the point of no return.

The Rochester Castle, 145 Stoke Newington High St, Stoke Newington, London N16 0NY

The Regency

Quite possibly the best breakfast atmosphere in London, only rivalled by E Pellici in Bethnal Green (see below). The Regency has a unique queueing system that takes the novice a while to understand. Word to the unwise - don’t take a seat before you’ve ordered your food!

But the food! Oh, the glorious Regency breakfast. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted from a British breakfast – perfectly cooked, great ingredients, on the right side of greasy, served with a shout and a wink. Great value for its central London position (you might also recognise it as a film location for Layer Cake), it’s tremendously popular for a reason. It is for all occasions always: bad news/good news/hangover/after exercise/in love/freshly dumped.

The Regency, 17-19 Regency St, Westminster, London SW1P 4BY, UK

Cabman’s Shelter

You want the best bacon sandwich in London? The Shelter is your spot. Enough said.

Cabman’s Shelter, 23 Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1B

Titbits

Vegans and vegetarians – this is your spot. The breakfast here is stonkingly good, and no animal has been harmed in the process. It’s no fry up, of course, but the bircher muesli is to die for (not literally, that wouldn’t be very vegan now, would it?), and their pastries (croissants etc.) are delicious. It’s a buffet, and you pay by the weight of your plate. What?! Yes, that’s right. Tuck in, veggies! The bonus of being on bankside means the Thames is but a hop skip and jump away – wonderful on a sunny London summer’s day.

Titbits, 124-128 Southwark Street, London SE1 0SW

London Breakfast Guide_003

Cafe Coco

Cafe Coco serves a decent breakfast, with the bonus that Magculture is next door. Worth it post-Fabric or pre-day out walking in Clerkenwell.

Cafe Coco, 266 St John Street, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 4PE

Gökyüzü

Hands down the best Turkish breakfast in London. The menemen might be amazing in Café Z, but Gökyüzü has got it all – the mixed mezze is incredible, the English fry-up is impeccable, and the halloumi is perfection. Just find a bus and get on it – you won’t regret it.

Gökyüzü, 26-27 Grand Parade, Harringay, London N4 1LG

Egg Break

West London often gets overlooked for East these days, but the gems are still there if you look hard enough or are rich/fortunate enough to know someone local. Egg Break is one of those gems. As you might expect, it’s heavy on the huevos. The menu has at least 10 different egg options, but the best are probably Levantine eggs (fried eggs, za’atar, and chickpea tabbouleh) or the Calabrian eggs – (scrambled eggs with nduja, onions, and topped with a herb and puffed chickpea salad). Major shout out to the Crab cake with poached eggs, sriracha 12 hollandaise, and spinach too. Delicious!

Egg Break, 30 Uxbridge St, London W8 7TA

London Breakfast Guide_008

E Pellicci

What can be said about Pellicci’s that hasn’t been said before? Alongside The Regency, this east London institution is vying for the ‘best breakfast in London’ spot. Whilst the fry ups are top notch, it’s the atmosphere that gets you coming back, and back again. It’s been open since 1900 and is still in the same family. The interior is pure old school east London, and the staff have more banter than the Archbishop of Banterbury riding a Bantersaurus Rex to the Banterbus station. It truly is a joy to eat at Pellicis. You can’t chat about London breakfasts with authority of you haven’t been here.

E Pellicii, 332 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 0AG

Mess Cafe

Hackney, glorious Hackney. Under pressure from gentrification left right and centre, communities getting divided, house prices killing the neighbourhood. Somehow, it’s still hanging on. Mess Café is perhaps Hackney in a microcosm. It is incredibly popular with all Hackney types – local kids, dads with daughters, hipsters on a hangover, girls gossiping over milkshakes, old boys reading the Mirror, families, young professionals, musicians, artists, cabbies, builders, teachers – people from all walks of life. Stepping into Mess is like stepping off the street and bringing all the people on the street with you. A true egalitarian space. The fry-ups are strong and the omelettes banging, but whatever you eat, make sure you order the malt milkshake. It’s heaven.

Mess Cafe, 38 Amhurst Road, London E8 1JN

London Breakfast Guide_005

Jesse’s Café

Everything about Jesse’s is amazing – but the décor is one of its strongest features: all the specials, such as STANDARD BREAKFAST, BREAKFAST SPECIAL, SPOTTED DICK are dotted around the place, installed into the wall. It's just a brilliant greasy, not fussy, the best kind of naughty sausages you can buy, scolding tea, and conversations with strangers.

Jesse’s Café, 68 High Street, Walthamstow, London E17 7LD

Riding House Café

Posh with a capital P.O.S.H, posh! The Riding House Café is a pricey place, but boy, if you’ve got the cash, you’ve got to splash. Set near Regent Street, it’s an elegant destination that’s great for a date the night before or a post-ahem-you-know-what in the morning. The food is superb, and the décor is just as delicious, but with a full English at £14.50, you’ve got to be sure the overdraft is ready. For a cheaper life, have a muesli and a cup of tea and soak up the well to do atmosphere instead.

Riding House Café, 43-51 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, London W1W 7PQ

With thanks to:

Saskia Wickins, Susannah Otter, Tim Burrows, Natalie Hardwick, Meghna Gupta, Ben Dawes, Farah Chowdhury, Rosh, Dino, Gayle Lazda, Marie Maurer, Shayamal Vallabhji, Paul Case, Ben Southwood, Eli Davies.

 
Spitalfields-Market-band

Spitalfields Market Has Something For Everyone

 

spitalfields market

SPITALFIELDS MARKET HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

At Spitalfields Market, you can shop for apparels and accessories, indulge in some delicious street food and people-watching or even set up a stall of your own. Milling with crowds on most days, this bustling market is a hotbed of activity for locals and tourists alike.

Spitalfields Market, 16 Horner Square, London E1 6EW. Phone: 020 7375 2963

READ DIVYA SEHGAL'S STORY

It’s a whole world out there in Spitalfields: food and drink, stalls of apparel, handmade jewellery and art prints, community events, and more. You can’t go wrong with spending an afternoon (or the whole day) in this trendy lively East End area. Granted, it has become more popular over the years and you almost don’t want to head there on your “chill out” weekend. But working near Liverpool Street has its perks; Spitalfields Market is my lunch time treat every Friday. I pick up my Spicy Mediterranean Box from Badolina, sit at the entrance of the market, opposite Patisserie Valerie, and watch the crowds go by. It’s not all office-goers out during their lunch break either. You can spot tourists, families, couples, and groups of friends from across the Channel. It’s a treat to watch – and that’s just from outside!

Divided into roughly three types of markets, Spitalfields devotes itself to independent artists who sell their wares at the Spitalfields Arts Market. At the Saturday Style Market, you’ll see traders selling apparel, accessories, homeware, and other goods, and the Traders Market at Crispin Place is open all seven days. Let’s not forget the plethora of sit-down restaurants plus food stalls. As the saying goes, there’s something for everyone in this glorious melange of shops. If none of this pleases you, Brick Lane is just a short walk away, with food and vintage shops nearly spilling onto its streets.

P.S.: If you’re an independent artist or a trader, you can get in touch with Spitalfields Market to set up a stall.

Feature photograph by Alan Stanton [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Flickr

 
LDN-Bookstore-Guide-BAND

The Complete Guide To London’s Best Bookshops

london bookstores best bookstores
 

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO LONDON'S BEST BOOKSHOPS

WORDS BY KIT CALESS

London is a literary city. Books are its main storytelling medium, its mythology maker. From Daniel Defoe to Charles Dickens, Angela Carter to Zadie Smith, London’s representation is best in books. What’s more, in case you didn’t know, books are back. Physical book sales have been on the rise over the last few years. Novels are novel again. Lit is…lit.

Luckily for Londoners, the city is replete with hundreds of bookshops in which you can find these physical wonders of the world. Books are booming so much that there are even new bookshops opening (shout out Ink84 and Burley Fisher). Sure, Amazon can recommend something to you if you like, but in London we like walking around the city, popping into bookshops and browsing. We chose our favourite bookshops to visit in the capital, some well-known, some hidden gems, but all glorious.

london review bookshop best bookstores london

CURATION PERFECTION – LRB

London Review Bookshop is the place to go to if you don’t know what book you want until you see it. The staff at LRB are incredible – they’ve read more than you ever will, but they make you feel like you are discovering the books at the same time they are. Enthusiastic, informed and consistently funny, LRB staff are the reason to visit the shop, and their recommendations are hands down the best in the city. You’ll come out feeling like you’ve made a friend, bought a book that will change your life, and found a second home.

The shop emerged from one of the UK’s most prestigious and influential cultural journals. It also has lovely side café in which you can sit and read the London Review of Books for free. Events at the bookshop are excellent but often fully booked in advance, so check their website for listings.

London Review Bookshop, 14-16 Bury Place, Bloomsbury, London WC1A 2JL. Phone: 020 7269 9030

burley fisher books london best bookstores

LOCAL HEROES – BURLEY FISHER BOOKS

This is biased, but Burley Fisher are up there with the best in the business. It’s biased because I live very close to Burley Fisher. It’s biased because I have run events and publishing parties at Burley Fisher. It’s biased because Sam Fisher at Burley Fisher likes a pint. Sometimes likes a pint with me. Sometimes likes more than one pint with me. But that doesn’t detract from the facts. The facts are as follows:

Fact One: Great book selection

Fact Two: Great booksellers, happy to chat and advise, or leave you alone if you prefer

Fact Three: Brilliant literary events, often free or very cheap to attend

Fact Four: They’ve only been open for a year, and they are smashing it

Fact Five: Great basement, if you’re into basements

Fact Six: Also do coffee

Fact Seven: Very close to the Fox pub which has excellent beer and sofas for reading on

Burley Fisher Books, 400 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AA. Phone: 020 7249 2263

foyles london best bookstores

MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF BOOKS – FOYLES

Foyles. Fabulous Foyles. Boss of Bookshops. Legends in Literature. A visit to Foyles is a must-do for any book lover in London. The old Foyles shop housed a rampant, ridiculous gallimaufry of books that had its own charm, but their new flagship store (opened just down the road from the previous site) is a magnificent, highly organised beast. Foyles is the place if you can’t find a book in any other bookstore. Foyles is the place if you want to keep on top of the latest trends in literature. Foyles is the place to find gifts, recommendations, books you thought were just figments of your imagination.

Foyles also has a brilliant café up on the fourth floor and an excellent space, Ray’s Jazz and Classical Store, where you can buy records or sheet music and listen to live bands. Foyles is all things to all people. King of bound, ink printed paper, long may it reign over London.

Foyles Bookstores, multiple locations across London.

housmans london best bookstores

RADICAL BOOKS – HOUSMANS & 56A INFOSHOP & BOOKMARKS

Every self-respecting city has a radical bookshop, and London’s got more than its fair share. “Radical”, of course, is subjective. A bookshop like the marvellous Gay’s The Word could be considered radical, but for simplification, I’m sticking to a kind of lefty radicalism. Of course, “radical” doesn’t mean that traditional books aren’t sold at the shops either, just that there will be books at the radical end of politics and culture that you won’t normally find in a branch of Waterstones. I’ve written about my love affair with peace-loving Housmans Bookshop for The City Story before. Housmans is simply one of the greatest bookshops in the world that everyone should visit.

56a Infoshop is a social centre in Elephant and Castle that is entirely volunteer-led, completely unfunded, and utterly DIY. The fact that it’s been going so long is a testament to London’s radical resilience. Visit Infoshop for all the zines you could ever want, meeting people and hanging out (tea and coffee are free for anyone), and to find amazing books. Other than the Wetherspoons or the bowling alley, 56a Infoshop is the reason to head to the Elephant.

Bookmarks is the largest socialist bookshop in Europe. No bones about it, they are committed to the revolution. They cover politics, economics, trade unionism, labour history, the environment, black struggle, feminism, and loads more. On top of that, they also publish their own books addressing these topics.

Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London N1 9DY. Phone: 020 7837 4473

56a Infoshop, 56a Crampton Street, London SE17.

Bookmarks Bookshop, 1 Bloomsbury Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3QE. Phone: 020 7637 1848

judd books london best bookstores

JUMBLED MADNESS – JUDD BOOKS

Judd Books is a higgledy-piggledy, magnificent mess of a place. When you walk into Judd Books, you are almost assaulted by literature – books falling off shelves, books in piles at your feet, books holding the door open, books blocking the stairwell. It’s a cornucopia of literature, a mad tea party of writing. Judd has so many books that there are ladders in the shop to help you get to the top shelves that border the high ceiling. It’s like the library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, only better and in London and not owned by some noble aristocrat who once insulted a witch for being ugly.

At Judd, you’ll find some of the best philosophy, sociology, economics, and history books available in the Big Smoke. Being situated in Bloomsbury and a stone’s throw from University College London, there are hundreds and thousands of second-hand and used academic books inside. Go to Judd on an empty prose stomach and feast.

Judd Books, 82 Marchmont Street, Saint Pancras, London WC1N 1AG. Phone: 020 7387 5333

jarndyce london best bookshops

ANTIQUITY AND RARES – JARNDYCE

Jarndyce is right opposite the British Museum. So next time you’re down there to look at the stolen relics from the age of Empire, sack off the BM and head across the road. Walking into Jarndyce is like walking into the past anyway, so you’ll get your history fix immediately. It’s beautifully lit with wooden interiors that’ll make you want to take all the books down from its shelves, dust off the dust jackets, and travel back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The building has been a bookshop since at least 1890, and Jarndyce has been occupier since 1969. Rumour has it, the building is haunted, but the booksellers assure you it is a benevolent ghost.

Over the years Jarndyce have published over 200 catalogues, and believe you me, there are some books in their store you never knew existed.

Jarndyce Booksellers, 46 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3PA. Phone: 0 20 7631 4220

LDN Bookstore Guide_009

BEAUTIFUL TO BROWSE – DAUNT MARYLEBONE

Daunt, in Marylebone, is a simply gorgeous bookshop that makes you feel like reading as soon as you enter. It was built in 1910 specifically as a bookshop and retains its Edwardian charm. The centrepiece of the bookshop is a long, main room that feels like a gallery – with a stunning window at the back that is partly stained glass. There is a balcony running above this main room, from which you can view the shop below. It feels like a religious chapel, with books as the icon to worship. Daunt’s book selection is excellent, and they pride themselves on arranging books by country, rather than genre. Visiting Daunt is a fascinating, deeply rewarding experience.

Daunt Books, 84 Marylebone High Street, Marylebone, London W1U 4QW. Phone: 020 7224 2295

LDN Bookstore Guide_010

SO FRIENDLY YOU WANT TO LIVE THERE – BIG GREEN BOOKSHOP

Look, they’re famous now, okay. The secret is out. The Big Green Bookshop is wonderful. The Big Green Bookshop is a small little place in Wood Green that has excellent contemporary fiction, great children’s books, and an eye for the independently published future classics. Walking in, you are greeted like a long lost friend and regaled with tales of the day, books of the week, or just booksellers Simon or Tim’s current personal musings. They do an excellent mail order service too.

But let’s not beat about the Big Green Bush. Something magical happened earlier in 2017, which put BGB on the map. Over a series of weeks, the Big Green Bookshop tweeted Piers Morgan every single word, in order, from Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone after Morgan claimed never to have read a word JK Rowling had written. A feat of severe endurance, but one of the noblest endeavours a bookshop has ever undertaken.

Big Green Bookshop, 1 Brampton Park Road, Wood Green, London N22 6BG. Phone: 020 8881 6767

LDN Bookstore Guide_008

BLACK BOOKS – NEW BEACON BOOKSHOP

A London without New Beacon Bookshop is a London not worth living in. Which is why, in early 2017 a GoFundMe campaign established by the shop to ensure its survival as a business, smashed its target of £10,000 within 20 days. The people of London want New Beacon to continue, and so it shall be. If you live in this city, then New Beacon has to be on your map.

New Beacon was set up in 1966 by the late poet and publisher John La Rose and his partner, Sarah White. They specialise in Caribbean, Black British, African, and African-American authors but, like so many other specialist bookshops, they also publish books. New Beacon’s arresting new paint job (following the successful funding bid) helps the bookshop stand out on Stroud Green Road in Finsbury Park. Inside it is packed with fascinating books, from classics like WEB DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folk and CLR James’ Black Jacobins to contemporary work from the likes of Irenosen Okojie, Robyn Travis, and Reni Eddo-Lodge. The children’s section is a treasure trove of books for young people of colour, providing stories and illustrations that reflect their own heritage, something mainstream bookshops often fail to do.

New Beacon Bookshop, 76 Stroud Green Road, Stroud Green, London N4 3EN. Phone: 020 7272 4889

libreria-bookshop-london

MAKING YOU FEEL CLEVER – LIBRERIA BOOKSHOP

You can’t deny that bookshops make you feel smart. Walk into a good bookshop and you start to tingle with intelligent potential. All these books that could teach you something. All this knowledge, storytelling, language. It’s only after you walk out with a copy of Derrida’s Of Grammatology that you start to read on the bus home do you realise that bookshops will always be cleverer than you.

One bookshop that exudes intellectual feeling is situated on the east side of London, down a Brick Lane side street. Libreria is a beautiful shop, lovingly curated with a calming yellow hued interior. Rather than genre, books at Libreria are organised in subject categories such as “Wanderlust”, “Enchantment for Disenchanted”, and “The City”. Their aim – which works – is to pull you away from the usual browsing experience and encourage interdisciplinary reading. So that means you could find a copy of JG Ballard’s Crash next to Foucault’s History of Sexuality. Now that’s smart thinking.

 Libreria Bookshop, 65 Hanbury Street, London E1 5JP.

LDN Bookstore Guide_006

OLDEST IN THE SOUTH – KIRKDALE BOOKSHOP

Not every bookshop can be in a glamorous part of London like Bloomsbury or Marylebone. London is a vast, sprawling megalopolis which takes several hours to travel across no matter what mode of transport you take. So if you live in the deep south, you need a bookshop in the deep south. Step forward Sydenham’s Kirkdale Books.

Yes, Sydenham is a place. It’s near Crystal Palace. Don’t worry; it’s on the Overground.

Kirkdale says it is “probably the oldest independent bookshop in South East London”, a typically understated claim from a wonderful little local space. Spread over two floors, the range of new and second-hand books is impressive. The basement is a particular delight; just being in there makes you want to own every book ever written. I’ve been told the shop’s book club is superb and, judging by their monthly recommended reads, their eclectic taste is second to none. Add an excellent Twitter account to the mix and you’ve got one helluva local bookshop.

Kirkdale Bookshop, 272 Kirkdale, London SE26 4RS. Phone: 020 8778 4701

HONOURABLE MENTIONS
  • Al Saqi Books in Westbourne Grove – Arabic book specialist and publisher.
  • Pages of Hackney – local bookshop where staff member Jo Heygate was nominated as Bookseller of the Year in 2016.
  • Waterstones Gower Street and Waterstones Picadilly – the best Waterstones branches in the capital.
  • Skoob – excellent second-hand bookstore in Bloomsbury.
  • Review Bookshop – Peckham-based store run by novelist Evie Wyld.
  • Brick Lane Bookshop – great events, unrivalled London literature section.
  • Stoke Newington Bookshop – located in one of north London’s most literary districts, it has an excellent selection and comes into its own during Stoke Newington Literary Festival.
  • Belgravia Books – lovely little contemporary store near Victoria Station.
  • Tate Modern Bookshop – brilliantly curated, and you get to wander around the Tate before you browse.
  • Artwords, Shoreditch and Broadway Market – you could spend a day looking at the books at Artwords.
  • Banner Repeater – a print and books space in the oddest of places, Platform One of Hackney Downs station.

All photographs by Juhi Pande except Big Green Bookshop by Alan Stanton [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

 
Madame-D-BAND

Madame D Aims For Himalayan Heights

 

madame d nepali tibetan cuisine restaurant london tower hamlets

MADAME D AIMS FOR HIMALAYAN HEIGHTS

Madame D serves small plates of Nepali, Tibetan, and Indo-Chinese dishes. The menu includes chilli paneer, beef puffs, and momos, but most patrons swear by the prawn crackers.

Madame D, 76 Commercial Street, London E1 6LY. Phone: 020 7247 1341

READ DIVYA SEHGAL'S STORY

A lot has been written and said about Madame D, the second restaurant by the owners of Gunpowder, inspired by Himalayan cuisine and showcasing the flavours of North East India, Nepal, and China. Like Gunpowder (and many other new restaurants with cramped spaces in London’s crowded restaurant scene), Madame D specialises in serving small plates to be shared. This meant that the limited menu shrank further for my dining companion and me – some of their dishes have MSG, but they were happy to accommodate my requirements and mark the dishes that don't.

From what I could eat, I can tell you that Madame D is all about the heat – the broken Naga chilli in the chilli lemonade infused the drink with its spices as long as I let it sit inside, making my lemonade the opposite of refreshing. But it’s the prawn crackers, those unassuming crisps most Asian restaurants serve, that Madame D takes to a whole new tantalising level. Accompanied by a spicy prawn pickle and tangy grated carrot kimchi, they were the best start we could have asked for.

The food that followed was delicious but not as fiery as the crackers and pickle we got earlier. In a city that boasts some of the best Indian restaurants outside the Indian subcontinent, it can be quite hard to hit the right flavour profile, but Madame D is bold, inventive, and confident – three qualities that are the bedrock of great food.

Feature photo by See-ming Lee [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 
Som-Saa-band

The Authentic Thai Food At Som Saa Has Bags Of Flavour

 

som saa thai restaurant spitalfields tower hamlets london

THE AUTHENTIC THAI FOOD AT SOM SAA HAS BAGS OF FLAVOUR

Som Saa is a Thai restaurant that started as pop-up in Hackney in 2015. After running a successful crowd-funding campaign, it opened as a permanent restaurant in Spitalfields where it serves authentic Thai food from perennial favourites such as green Thai curry to papaya salad with egg and prawns.

Som Saa, 43A Commercial Street, London E1 6BD. Phone: 020 7324 7790

READ DIVYA SEHGAL'S STORY

How often do you go to a Thai restaurant and resist ordering the green curry? It doesn’t happen that often with me. But Som Saa, the hot not-so-new Thai kid on the block is pulling all the stops when it comes to authentic Thai dishes. You’ve probably walked past it loads of times if you are in and around Commercial Street in Spitalfields. With a fairly small menu offering delights like deep fried sea bass and smoked duck soup, Som Saa’s dishes have bags of flavour. Go there for a boozy lunch and eat to your heart’s content at this former fabric warehouse. Pop-ups turned restaurants are definitely having their day in the sun. Only in London!

If you’re one to follow the city’s hottest chefs and cook book writers and need their endorsements, you only have to look at your Instagram “discover” feed and see what the rage is all about. As someone who has had their fair share of green curries in London, I can definitely tell you that I will not be touching it at Som Saa. Because if the other stuff is so good, there’s no point in choosing your fall-back option, is there?

Feature photo by kiattipong2499 - stock.adobe.com

 
Gunpowder-DS-band

Gunpowder Delivers An Explosion Of Flavours

 

gunpowder restaurant london

GUNPOWDER DELIVERS AN EXPLOSION OF FLAVOURS

Gunpowder is an Indian restaurant in Spitalfields that serves home-style food derived from family recipes. The restaurant has a no-reservation policy and is open from Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner.

Gunpowder, 11 White's Row, London E1 7NF. Phone: 020 7426 0542

READ DIVYA SEHGAL'S STORY

I stay away from any restaurant in London that has a no-reservation policy – at least for a year, after which I don’t have to queue for about two hours in less than desirable weather. So, after much dilly-dallying, I finally ventured to the much-touted “small plates” Indian restaurant, Gunpowder, which promises an explosion of flavours in every dish. And how right that claim is! Having tasted half the dishes on the menu, my dinner companion and I found it hard to choose a favourite. But if I absolutely had to, it would be the porzi okra fries – okra, deep fried with a light batter of gram flour and sprinkled with some of that magic masala Indian palates know so well. The surprise of the evening was the Tandoori baby chicken. I almost didn’t order it, thinking it to be a basic dish whose preparation would be just as basic. It’s a mistake I’m glad I didn’t make. Hands down, it’s the best I’ve ever had.

If you like Dishoom and enjoy authentic Indian cuisine, Gunpowder is an obvious choice. It’s got a limited menu which means you can order as many dishes as you like, even if you’re in a group of two or three. Just don’t forget to order those okra fries and the baby chicken. And make it a full one!

Feature photo by Juhi Pande

 
Bethnal-Green-Gasholder-band

The Gasholders Define Bethnal Green’s Skyline

 

bethnal green gas holders hackney

THE GASHOLDERS DEFINE BETHNAL GREEN'S SKYLINE

Designed by George Trewby and John Clark, the Bethnal Green gasholders were built in 1886 and 1889 by Westwood and Wrights. While they manufactured and stored town gas before 1960, and thereafter stored natural gas, they have been made largely redundant because of gas pipelines. Today they form an important part of the landscape near Regent’s Canal.

Bethnal Green Gasholders, Marian Place, Bethnal Green, London E2 9AX.

READ JUHI PANDE'S STORY

The gasholders at Bethnal Green have served me as a unit for measurement for the last 18 months. Like metal lace coiled into neat cylinders, these looming structures on Regent’s Canal, just off Broadway Market, are the 3-kilometer mark on my twice-weekly runs. It’s around this point that I’ve shaken the sleep off my body and my breath has settled, and yet, despite having found a rhythm, I always stop to take a photograph. It could be raining or bright or just a chalky grey London day but the mighty metal giants stand tall and proud.

The gasholders (also known as gasometers), aside from being my run pit-stop, were also England’s lifeline for almost 200 years. These sites were used to store gas, but with the onset of sophisticated networks of pipelines that distributed gas directly to people’s homes, the gasholders have become redundant. There is a division in public opinion on tearing the gasometers down for the sake of housing and development or retaining and maintaining them for the sake of nostalgia.

I’m a sucker for structural nostalgia, so I hope the final decision is in favour of the gasholders. From my first 800m run to my last 12k run along the canal, the Bethnal Green gasholders have silently watched over me and have been the only constant witness to my pace, struggle and jubilance with every run. My runs wouldn’t be the same without these two gasholders. But then again neither would the Bethnal Green skyline.

Feature photo by Sludge G [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr