As the excitement mounts for the upcoming London Blogcademy sessions, I’ve found myself homesick for my old stomping grounds.
It’s funny the little things you miss from a place – certain food or shops, the way the light falls on an Autumn day, a bus route even. I’ve been thinking about some of the things I love and cherish about London, and what I recommend to friends when they’re headed for across the pond.
I thought I’d compile those suggestions for future use, and for the benefit of individuals looking for some ideas from a once local, as to where to go off the conventional tourist path.
So, without further adieu, here’s my first installment of London Calling – a Local’s Guide (Ya, ya I know. It’s a bloody good song though!)
LONDON – Eat, Drink and Be Very Merry
Photo Credit: Ewan Munro
Metal bar-come-restaurant. The front section of Garlic & Shots houses the restaurant portion where you can order fantastic garlic infused food. I love Garlic & Shots for its rough around the edges atmosphere, good food, and incomparable shot menu. There’s also a patio in the back and additional bar in the basement. If you’re under 5ft2″ forget seeing yourself in the bathroom mirror, so bring a compact, but then you’re not there to watch ‘your pretty face going to hell‘, so eat up!
Photo Credit: Sarah Sosiak
It used to be difficult to find a really good cup of coffee in London, (ignoring all the Starbucks & Prets that is). For years there were few independent coffee places to rival the best in North America. One of the forerunners before the espresso revolution really took hold of the UK was the Monmouth Coffee Company with two locations – one near Covent Garden and another in Borough. The Borough Market shop was often packed with a que going round the corner, and you’d were pretty much guaranteed to share a crammed booth with a stranger at the Covent Garden one. The coffee – absolutely fantastic and a must have if you’re wandering around the delightful Borough Market.
Photo Credit: David Abrahamovitch
Located near Old Street the Shoreditch Grind serves up a great cup of coffee at a reasonable price for London. It’s not the quietest spot, and I wouldn’t come here with the intention to sit down for a while to read or write, but if you’re in trendy Shoreditch and want a proper coffee head here! Free WiFi & Bench seating if you do decide to sit and stay awhile.
Photo Credit: Yukino Miyazawa
I love the Scooter Caffè. Give me a cafe with Vespas as decor any day please! Located on Lower Marsh near Southwark, Waterloo it’s right round the corner from several great vintage shops as well. A fantastic cafe/bar if ever there was one. You won’t feel out of sorts ordering a hot chocolate or a pint here. With a super cute eclectic look, the Scooter Caffè has a very cosy and relaxed atmosphere.
Photo Credit: Nicholas M Stevenson
I have a soft spot for this Victorian Pub located near Goldsmiths College in Deptford/New Cross in South East London. Once a local haunt for me and my friends, we’d often spend hours here having production meetings or brainstorming for our next show. The staff are lovely, the drinks fab, and the food divine (I start to salivate just thinking of the gorgeous Bread & Butter Pudding Natalie and I shared here one day). With a mix of vintage chairs and tables the environment is chilled out and welcoming.
Photo Credit: Russell Davies
Not surprisingly the Breakfast Club was opened by two children of the 80′s. When my friend Natalie and I went here for breakfast I fell in love with the quirky, yet unpretentious decor. With a love for the 1980′s and a Full English Breakfast to rival the best of them you can’t go wrong. There are several locations in the city now, from Soho to Shoreditch, and the location on Rufus Street near Old Street also turns into a Speakeasy! To visit “Scaredy Cat Town”, go to The Breakfast Club in Spitalfields and ask to see The Mayor.
For more info see: The Major of Scaredy Cat Town
Photo Credit: Happiness Forgets
Underground Cocktail Bar in Shoreditch – this little gem is atmospheric and won’t break the bank. Dimly lit and serviced by some very talented bartenders. I love the nostalgic vibe that has an air of speakeasy to it without going overboard. The drinks are lovingly handcrafted in this intimate and friendly bar.
Photo Credit: Ben Ward
Another addition to the London Coffee Scene comes to town with this Antipodean run coffee shop. According to Wikipedia, a Flat White is: “a coffee beverage originating from Australia and New Zealand. It is prepared by pouring microfoam (steamed milk from the bottom of a pitcher) over a single or double shot of espresso. It is similar to the latte and the café au lait. Like other espresso-based beverages, it can be interpreted various ways.” I’ve been assured by an Aussie friend that Flat White in London does indeed deliver to the hype, and is well worth the stop to this Berwick Street coffee shop if you’re in Soho.
Photo Credit: Visit Greenwich
The Old Brewery in Greenwich is a must if you’re visiting south of the river. It’s located in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College near the historic Cutty Sark, and is an expansive pub by the river. With its own Microbrewery on site and some fantastic Meantime beers, it’s the perfect spot to lounge in the grass and enjoy a delicious pint amidst some stunning scenery.
This is one of my favourite spots in the city to get a proper Sunday Roast (uhm massive Yorkshire Puddings for the win!). And I don’t seem to be the only one who thinks this as latecomers are often disappointed when they arrive to find that lunch has sold out – so get there early! Large, bright and airy with an excellent selection of beers on tap and beer pairings suggestions for your meal, the Union is the perfect spot to relax on a Sunday afternoon while reading the weekend paper.