Monthly Archives: May 2017

#26. Tate & Lyle factory, Factory Rd
A long trip on the DLR to get there, but if you’re near a carriage window, you needn’t worry about missing it. You might think it strange that a factory has made my list, but this one deserves to be on it: it’s entirely Wonka-esque. Brooding, masculine, all shoulders and chimneys, towering over the matchbox houses below. It wouldn’t look out of place on the pages of Roald Dahl – in fact, I half wonder if Quentin Blake used it as a reference for his Charlie and the chocolate factory illustrations.

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Nairn’s London #22
Granada, Tooting

THEN: The outside is any old cinema with a grandiose front and mean flanks. The foyer is like a cross between Strawberry Hill and the Soane Museum; for once the fantasy of films has been matched by fantasy in the cinema. To argue that it is plaster deep is like arguing that La Regle De Jeu is just a strip of celluloid. Ninety-nine cinemas may be a shoddy counterfeit and so may ninety-nine films: but this is the hundredth. Gothic arches are all around in the auditorium, dimly lit by reflections from the screen. When the lights go up there is Aladdin’s cave; and if you walk to the front for a choc-ice or orange squash and turn round suddenly, the view may literally make you gasp. Pinnacle after gilded pinnacle, to the back of the gallery: one of the sights of London. Miss the Tower of London, if you have to, but don’t miss this.

NOW: A short leg to Tooting that’s well worth the effort. The Granada is now a Gala Bingo, and the cinematic fittings have all but gone, replaced by fixed seating and one-armed bandits. But you only need glance beyond them and you can see what Nairn was talking about. Gothic intricacy everywhere you look – in an auditorium of this scale, it’s breathtaking. A brilliant Nairn’s to finish on.

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Restaurant: Jidori, Kingsland High St
Time: Saturday evening
With: Wist
Stand-out dish: Tebasaki yakitori
This may be one of the best of the year. The atmosphere was buzzy and low-key, perfect for a casual Saturday evening bite. The staff were friendly and fantastically attentive. The cocktail menu was varied and interesting – I can recommend the ‘She So Into You’ (vodka, yuzu, matcha, shiso leaves and soda). And the food was outstanding. We opted for the Omakase, but swapped out the Tsukune for Eringi mushrooms. Everything was flavourful, from the onsen egg through to the homemade pickles. Fabulous. The photos don’t do it justice.



Restaurant: Ippudo, St Giles High St
Time: Thursday lunchtime
Stand-out dish: Crispy Gyoza
I got there for opening, but there were already a few people in there sat down. Slick décor, bordering on the uninviting. There’s a slightly distracting welcoming routine that the staff shout every time somebody new walks in the door – give me Shoryu’s gong any day. Was served quickly, and ordered from the set lunch menu. The iced green tea was refreshing, and the crispy gyoza were excellent. The ramen was disappointing – grey and bland. With Kanada-Ya just across the road, I’d give it a miss.


#21. St Pancras Hotel, Euston Rd
Designed and built in the late 19th century by George Gilbert Scott, following a competition run by the Midland Rail Company. It’s a victorian gothic masterpiece, refurbished eight years ago following a period of neglect. The old taxi entry driveway has been converted into a beautiful atrium, with the grand ticket office bar peeling off it to the right. I’ve fond memories of eating chips and expensive cocktails in there with my old team (after we’d won at an advertising awards do).

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#22. The Three Crowns, East Rd
Dwarfed amongst the hastily thrown up high-rises in Old Street, The Three Crowns has somehow managed to stay put. Long may it remain. Its new many-floor neighbours make its stature seem all the more remarkable. Outside its beautiful green fronted pub, adorned with old Barclays Stout and Ales type. Inside, the food and drink isn’t half bad, especially considering its changed hands two or three times in the last few years.

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#23. Kings Cross Station, Euston Rd
Until recently, you wouldn’t have known Kings Cross was such a handsome station. A horrific green awning masked the view. But for the Olympics, John McAslan were briefed on its transformation. They managed to successfully bridge between Cubitt’s original 19th century design and 21st century architecture. An awe-inspiring new concourse now rubs shoulders with the traditional semi-circular glass frontages. Wondrous.

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#24. The Shepherdess Cafe, Shepherdess Walk
My local cafe for many years, but also a London institution. Its a pokey single-storey affair, with painted on curtains and harsh strip lighting. You get the feeling it hasn’t changed in thirty years. Celebrity photos adorn the walls, and Jamie Oliver features heavily (his production company Fifteen being just around the corner. At nighttime, it looks eerily it can look like an Edward Hopper painting. No matter what you order, expect it to come with a garnish of chips. Mega.

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#25. Hatch, MacKintosh Lane
A shallow entry but no less worthy – its on the list for one aspect only. The wall of windows. The builders have removed the entire front wall and replaced it with a mishmash of window shapes. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it hangs together. On closer inspection, there are gaps where the reclaimed windows haven’t quite lined up. But it needn’t matter, so long as you don’t mind a draft.

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