She might not be an obvious beauty, but she sure as hell hides some secrets in her frilly drawers.
No, we’re not talking about Mrs Kentishtowner; we are, however, eulogizing the pleasures of Kentish Town Road, a high street so modest its traffic lights are probably glowing red as we speak.
Ignore the bump of cars, lorries and buses, the shrieking teens outside McDonalds, and the spectral Irish elders in the windows of O’Neils: this is anything but an undistinguished Victorian parade.
For starters, visit the recently revamped fishmongers (B&M Seafoods, at #258), or the colourful aisles of Phoenicia, the vast middle eastern deli (at #186), or Earth Wholefoods, where you’ll run into a frizzy-haired eccentric or two fingering the jars of herbs and spices.
Need to refresh your wardrobe? At #213 there’s the wonderful Blustons, which retains its original Grade II-listed 1931 facade.
And no sniggering at the back, especially from the flibbertigibbet who wrote the following witless haiku on Yelp: “Blustons is an old lady shop for people who want to dress like old ladies.” (We can tell you, sister, Mrs Kentishtowner, she ain’t happy).
Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, exhausted from all this shopping. But whatever you do, don’t miss Owl. One of London’s great bookstores, established in 1974 (how many recessions is that?) it’s home to piles of tomes on local history, including the excellent Streets Of Kentish Town series, as well as all the usual genres and sub-genres.
So you can see why locals tend to keep schtum about Kentish Town Road having more independent shops than almost everywhere else in London. But our advice? The next time someone raves about Broadway Market, or Lordship Lane, or Stoke Newington Church Street, just smile serenely.
Owl is open 9-6pm. 207 Kentish Town Road. Keep an eye out for literary events and stuff too.