North London's Cultural Guide

Kentishtowner Awards: Best New Opening 2012

A local pub reborn – The Grafton

Welcome to the 2012 Reader Awards celebrating the best our area has to offer. And what a year it’s been! Firstly, we’re chuffed that so many of you voted – and thanks too to Kabbee for sponsoring them.

Now, with so many exciting new ventures starting up in the manor over the last 12 months, our first category, Best New Opening, was always going to be one of the hardest fought (and therefore most intriguing) categories.

It’s a vote that can be dependent on short term memory too. So while we heralded the Colonel Fawcett and its amazing food as ‘the opening of 2012’ back in January, and though it still pulled in impressive numbers of votes, it was pipped into fifth place by more recent ventures. Same for the Camden Town Brewery Bar, which opened back in March but narrowly missed out on a gong at #7.

Meanwhile The Fields Beneath was just a little too much of a new opening to make a full impact, yet still came a highly respectable joint sixth with ice cream specialists Ruby Violet. Notable mentions also for Doppio café, Shebeen and Dirty Burger (at #4), the only one of the new Soho House joints not in the top 3, but still heaped with lashings of praise by you lot.


1. The Grafton

Tarting up an old boozer ain’t as easy as it looks, but the team at The Grafton seem to have got it just right. The crowds to be found there every night of the week are simple testament to that. Service is friendly, the booze interesting and the food a winner. Yet this is no gastro refit. A proper local has been carefully created, a previously drab and unloved pub blossoming into a vibrant community hub with a real inclusive feel to it. Vintage markets at the weekends, street food on Fridays, piano sing-songs and quiz nights. Everything that’s taken place here over the last few months has been a resounding hit. As one voter succinctly put it, “I can’t believe the transformation.”

2. Pizza East

While national media attention buzzed around the sister restaurant in the basement (see #3), locals have been making a beeline to the much anticipated pizza outpost at street level. It remains resolutely packed throughout the day, despite swift and attentive service once seated. The décor and atmosphere never fail to impress, with pleasing attention to detail. This is a fun place to eat out and the novelty doesn’t look like wearing off any time soon. Pizzas and the other simple but successful dishes prove outstanding value considering the quality of ingredients used. Plus the bar is open late too.

3. Chicken Shop

No surprise to see this one-dish joint causing a flap in its opening year. This place would be a hot table were it located anywhere central or East, but Soho House Group launching a whole new concept right on our doorstep? Instant success assured, for the huge vote of confidence in Kentish Town alone. Bringing foodie tourists in from far and wide, Chicken Shop has proved good news for everyone. The chicken lives up to the hype, but it’s the speakeasy vibe that provides the wow factor, starting at the clandestine doorway and continuing throughout the slick and gratifying subterranean meal.

Tomorrow: Best For Families

Find all the 2012 Award winners (and hundreds more great local businesses) using our Nearby service on your mobile phone

[adrotate banner=”18″]

Leave a Comment

About Kentishtowner

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.