#20. The Wenlock Arms, Wenlock Rd
I don’t think there’s a more perfect pub in East London. Untouched by the blitz, the Wenlock Arms is a traditional east end boozer in every sense. Little pomp or ceremony, just fantastic beer and a small selection of pub snacks, all around a traditional U-shaped bar. The most inviting exterior view, particularly at night, and worthy of two photos.
Nairn’s London #14
St Barnabas, Shacklewell Ln
THEN: It takes some finding, but is worth it. In Shacklewell Row, off Shacklewell Lane, and hidden behind the church hall. Even then the outside is just a big plain stock-brick building, like a warehouse. The inside is the best church of its date in London, sure in its domed and barrel-vaulted spaces, incredibly fresh in its detail, concrete and exposed yellow brick. England could so easily have stepped across to modern architecture from here, instead of relapsing into an eclectic fog. This is the kind of quintessential classical composition that Lutyens tried for and never had the integrity to achieve. Only the big, gaudy Adamesque screen jars: everything else is pure space, or rather, something better – pure space charged with feeling.
NOW: Still just as hard to find. And once found, hard to get inside too. It took four trips before I managed to visit; when I finally saw the space, I was more overcome with relief than awe. Nonetheless, St Barnabas has something. Wist described it as a church she could ‘imagine herself going to’ – in part due to the friendly vicar, but mostly because it has a character like few other churches. Warm and open, grand but not intimidating, a sanctuary just a short stroll away from the freneticism of Kingsland High St. Well worth a visit. Or four.
Nairn’s London #19
THEN: Shaw built very many houses in London, and all bar this one have their inventions vitiated by a cold-hearted manipulation and unconcern whether the artful counterchanges of surface had any feeling in them. This one is quite different – easy and unpretentious, growing naturally and informally at the owner’s convenience. Prettily tile-hung, windows at all angles and of all shapes, yet underneath is a keen eye for the relation of all those apparent accidents. Appropriately enough, it was built for Kate Greenaway.
NOW: I’ll admit this one is a little lost on me. Like most of the houses in Hampstead, it’s of substantial size. And will of course be worth a chunk. But the hanging tiles and aysmmetrical windows aren’t to my taste. I don’t see the underlying keen eye that Nairn saw, I see a bit of a jumble sale. I’m not familiar with Kate Greenaway – but I imagine I’d feel warmer to her illustrative style than her house. Either way, I’d do anything for her artists studio on the top floor though.
Cocktail #16. Brandy Alexander
Source: Cafe Royal
1/4 Crème de Cacao
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain back into shaker. Dry shake without ice. Dust with freshly grated nutmeg.
Cocktail #20. Zombie
Source: Difford’s Guide to Cocktails
¾ shot Barcardi white rum
¾ shot Navy rum
¾ Barcardi carta oro rum
½ shot Apricot brandy liquer
½ shot Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
2 ½ shot Freshly squeezed orange juice
2 ½ shot Freshly squeezed pineapple juice
1 shot Freshly squeezed lime juice
½ shot Grenadine syrup
½ shot White overproof rum
Shake first nine ingredients with ice and strain into glass filled with crushed ice. Float the overproof rum and garnish with a pineapple wedge.
Restaurant: Koya Bar, Frith St
Time: Friday morning
With: Matt G
Stand-out dish: Japanese breakfast
Relatively empty at 9am on a Friday morning; its a great place for a breakfast meeting. Lots of natural surfaces and wabi sabi crockery. There’s one long bar running the length of the restaurant, behind which sits the kitchen. Not the friendliest of staff, but it is the morning shift, so they’re forgiven. The Japanese breakfast is fantastically tasty – grilled fish, rice, miso soup and pickles. And whilst its relatively hard to eat with chopsticks, its well worth the effort.
Restaurant: Flesh & Buns, Seven Dials
Time: Friday lunchtime
Stand-out dish: Crispy Duck Leg bun
Early lunch at this underground hideout, run by Bone Daddies. Its dark and grungy, and the perfect expression of the japanese junkfood trend. Great and attentive service, and a nice and varied menu. I plumped for the express menu, which was particularly good value. The crispy duck leg ‘flesh and bun’ was fantastic – a real treat.