North London Food & Culture

Community Pinboard: How hot is Tufnell Park?

The rise and rise of Fortess Road. Plus where to house the folks when they come to visit

1. The Indomitable Rise Of Tufnell Park ‘Village’
It’s a debate we sometimes have on a down day at Kentishtowner HQ. Where the devil is Kentish Town ‘Village’? Is it Dartmouth Park? Oak? Inkerman? Brecknock? A strong contender, of course, is blossoming Tufnell Park, an area which – some die-hard NW5-ers might argue – will always be the Dannii Minogue to Kentish Town’s Kylie.

Yes, there have long been cute cafes like Rustique (shame about the coffee), restaurants that we promise to review soon (Nuraghe), and more recently cooler joints like Aces & Eights (how we love its downstairs bar), but it’s the rise of quirky shops that has caught our eye. So if the definition of ‘urban village’ is yummy mummy boutique heaven, then Dannii is currently number one. With a bullet.

Evidence? Harrington & Squires, a diminutive ‘letterpress workshop’ with font-tastic cards at 136a Fortess Road; Soho Hip, which relocated next door last year from Norwich, its owner Debra already a firm fixture in the community. On the same parade, Future and Found offer ‘beautiful things for your home’ at 116a, and brand new this week at 118 is TPV’s latest jewel, Ruby Violet, ‘ice cream handmade in Tufnell Park, London’s original dairy.’ We didn’t make the (apparently very boozy) launch, but lovely Laura did swing by this morning with a breakfast-sized tub of salted caramel – of which Mrs Kentishtowner has made very short work. Pictured is an arctic roll that we also have the hots for. Not that we’re hinting, of course. Ahem.


2. Three Hotels Your Relatives Could Stay In This Summer. The folks or kids might be about to descend but palm them off with imaginative accommodation choices and everyone’ll be happy. For a posh boutique B’n’B try architect-designed 66 Camden Square, with its sunken beds and parrot called, um, Peckham (£100 a double, 020-7485 4622). If they’re more Hampstead kinda types, former gay boozer the King William IV has just opened what look like charming rooms on the high street (from £99). We’re quite tempted ourselves to book a night in the hills. And in the heart of NW5, many of you will be surprised to learn that Tolli – yes, humble Tolli! – has a couple of simply furnished rooms at just £60 a double or £120 for a premium open-plan room with dining table and lounge (above right). How much fun would that be?

3. Vegan Shoes on Brecknock Road. Third Estate have just moved down from Leeds to No.27 and specialise in men and women’s clothing which is ethically traded, eco-friendly/organic/recycled, hand-made or manufactured in the U.K or Europe. ‘We also have the biggest range of animal free and vegan footwear in London,’ says owner Angela. Worth a peek.

4. What’s Happened To Service At The Oxford? We have had mixed experiences at NW5’s ‘flagship’ gastropub over the years. But we swung by for Sunday lunch the other week and waited 15 minutes without being brought a menu or having a drinks order taken. Tables lay uncleared too. So we left for a more reliable meal The Junction. You could, however, pop down to the free weekly open mic nights upstairs, every Wed at 8pm.

5. Six Quid In The Manor. We simply love the daily specials at old skool caff Delichios on Queen’s Crescent – £4.95 with a tea or coffee thrown in. Last week we wolfed down spicy chicken breasts with rice and salad (crunchy with beetroot and slaw) – which was more tasty than you’d expect at twice the price. The interior is functional formica, unchanged for years; lots of market banter and a pile of tabloids to flick through.

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Words: Stephen Emms
Main Pic: Graham Hussey

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The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.