Pinboard: Queen’s Crescent on the up? Help Shebeen. And who won Pub of the Year?

1. The rise and fall and rise again of Queen’s Crescent Market? Regular readers will know how much we love …

1. The rise and fall and rise again of Queen’s Crescent Market?

Top Dog's Mike & Chris. Photograph: Top Dog.
Top Dog’s Mike & Chris. Photograph: Top Dog.

Regular readers will know how much we love Queen’s Crescent Market, and so we’re pleased to report that finally, an ambitious new manager has taken over the only street market in NW5, and one of the oldest in London to boot.

And we’re pleased to hear Sima Awad has big plans, which began with a free trading day last weekend. “The aim was to attract new traders and footfall,” she says. “It was put together quite quickly as a trial but was very successful – seven new traders and four have since applied to become regulars.”

The good news? The relaunch proper –  “with all the bells and whistles,” says Sima – is on Thursday 23rd May.


Thursday? Okaaay, but in the meantime head down there to enjoy the new stalls appearing each week. We were away last weekend, alas, but heard particularly good reports about new Top Dog stall, which serves “highest quality British sausages in a gloriously fluffy hotdog bun”.

Always a bargain on the QC. Photograph: Tom Storr
Always a bargain on the QC. Photograph: Tom Storr
Says founder Mike: “My business partner Chris is a Kentishtowner through and through. Born and raised round the corner from QC, he remembers when the market was a vibrant and bustling hub. we love all the food establishments that have been appearing recently in Kentish Town; the composite parts are all there and it’s clear that QC can be turned around to become as busy, if not more so, than a couple of decades ago.”

So how did their first day go? “Not knowing what to expect, we thought perhaps it’d be very quiet and we wouldn’t sell much, but we’d cleaned out our stock by 3pm. We’ll be back this Saturday and hope become a weekly fixture at QC.”

For the sweet-toothed, an inevitable (and delicious-looking) brownie stall has also popped up. The Brownie Bar began when “three sisters decided to venture out and experiment with their cooking skills.” Perfect for a Saturday morning hangover, me thinks.

Matt Townsend Antiques. Photograph: Stephen Emms
Matt Townsend Antiques. Photograph: Stephen Emms
And elsewhere on Queen’s Crescent, more encouraging news: a new antique, retro and art shop has opened on its eastern end. Owned by the very dapper Matt Townsend, brother of Map Cafe founder Chris, the quite spacious outlet is already rammed with a bohemian selection of pieces from vintage mirrors to vases, Edwardian tea sets and original paintings.

So people, support not only these newcomers but also the regulars who’ve long battled this horrendous weather. Let’s celebrate Queen’s Crescent’s wonderful heritage – and now, we hope, promising future.

Next: Vote for Team Shebeen!


  • Show Comments

  • Eoin

    Disagree. This is a predominantly residential area at heart, and there is a long-standing policy of resisting the northward drift of Camden’s late-night drinking culture, and the associated noise, violence and crime that goes with it. If you allow one exception then you set a precedent which other, less-precious licence applicants can point to and say “we should get the same treatment”. I’ve been in Shebeen late at night with a boozed-up, call-your-guy-and-let’s-get-some-gak crowd, and seen them wander through the streets afterwards shouting and screeching,disturbing lots of residents whilst they’re at it. Keep it in Camden and out of KT please.

    • Jason R

      Sorry, but utter tosh.

    • Jason R

      PS… shouldn’t you NOT be in Shebeen late at night purely on principle as you are against another hour? a tad conrradictory, no? ;o)

    • Jon Simmons

      People are more likely to make noise coming out of one of the kebab shops over the road. It’s a travesty that Shebeen still hasn’t been granted a 2am licence.

  • Julianator

    Eoin: Nonsense. Shebeen is on a noisy junction on KT Road, underneath a restaurant and next to a pub, opposite another pub, and ever so slightly down from one of London’s largest music venues. A slightly later license will make no difference whatsoever to the area.

  • Alice

    This first comment is a joke, ive been to Shebeen many a time and never seen a single thing untoward happen. This town is on the up and if the old fogies dont like it they should move off to Hampstead or Highgate, 2am on a Saturday night is not late to anyone under the age of 50… Eoin get a life!!

  • Ben Lindsay

    SHEBEEN / Kentish Canteen is a great asset to Kentish Town, all locals agree! What about supporting independant businesses which employ local people? Unless we want KT to end up with more chains, such as Costa, Pret etc – they are the only people who can afford to move into the area….I should imagine that having extra licencing hours for a civilised place like Shebeen might just secure the longevity of the business. I am a fellow publican and it is IMPOSSIBLE to keep heads above water unless you work and are open all hours sent.

  • Roger Stalley

    Ha! Very pleasantly surprised to see this story, I’ve been going on about the market and those hotdogs since Saturday. Never thought much of or about hotdogs before but these are something else. Even if you don’t buy anthing, there’s a really nice but proper market atmosphere like I haven’t known for years – well worth a look and I reckon it’s all up from here for it.
    Damned good publication

  • sarah

    Kentish Canteen and Shebeen have transformed Kentish Town, offering local residents and those from further afield, a fantastic, welcoming atmosphere with great food, cocktails and hospitality. It would be a huge shame if just because there is opposition from a tiny but apparently vocal minority determined to prevent people enjoying themselves on a Friday and saturday night, this great bar may be denied a late licence. The evidence in favour of granting one is surely that the recent late licence trials resulted in no problems or negative effects.

  • peter

    The problem with gentrifying Queens Crescent Market is that the majority of people who live in the area cannot afford pricey Exmouth Market type food, and while you may show a picture of the stallholder who sells very cheap clothes, he does a service to those who are even priced out of the second hand charity shops in Camden Town. I would love everyone to be able to afford nice lattes etc but I recall in 2000/1 when a French Cafe opened and shut 3 months later, which is most likely going to happen to the antique shop that has just opened next to the library. You can get a decent take away tea at Franks for under 40p and as the area is one of the poorest in the borough I’d hate to see long standing stall holders moved out for pricey foodie stalls which will only appeal to those further up the road in Gospel Oak. I used to work in Shoreditch and loved the £5 mobile food stands. However, like many others in this country, I’ve been recently made redundant and now have to watch every penny. I would hope that the new manager keeps at the forefront of his mind that the majority of shoppers who regularly visit the market are unlikely to be on anywhere near the average UK income of £25k PA and a pricey hotdog will probably be a once in a blue moon treat.

    • Dean

      I tend to agree but something needs to be done to revitalise the market as it’s dying off. Hopefully the new manager can strike the right balance between existing stallholders and new blood or you could end up with another Grafton situation where the existing locals are priced out. It’s going to be a difficult job no matter what as the market is pretty off the beaten track.

  • Ian

    Really disagree with a lot here. Is it only me and people I know that find tapping the admiral underwhelming? I have tried and tried but it is way short of pineapple atmosphere or even contemplative quiet pint feel. Camra pub of the year??

  • Julian

    Re Shebeen, a highly civilised bar, used by grownups – these two 50 yr olds would welcome them getting a later licence!

  • Ken

    Many people will not be aware that Camden’s Core Licensing Hours for closing pubs. clubs etc in Kentish Town are: Mon – Thurs 11 pm; Fri – Sat midnight; Sun 11.30 pm.

    These have been established in Kentish Town for some time. All businesses wishing to operate from licensed premises in Kentish Town (whether pubs, clubs, off licenses, restaurants etc) should make it their business to understand the local “landscape” before considering to operate in Kentish Town. The Core Hours have been established for a reason. In short, and this has been touched upon in Eoin’s comments, many residents of Kentish Town do not wish to see the negative effects of a late night culture experienced by residents of Camden Town to be visited upon them. (If anyone is any doubt about the experience of residents who live within a mile of Chalk Farm Road, try talking to people who live in Harmood Street, Hadley Street and its environs.)

    Many responsible licensees in Kentish Town have also looked at opening for extended hours, have understood the background and need for the Core Hours framework and have listened to residents when making applications for later opening. It is unfortunate, that the owners of Shebeen have not engaged with residents in respect to their application. In case readers are not aware Shebeen’s application is as follows:

    Mon and Tues, 12 midnight; Weds and Thurs, 1 am; Fri and Sat 2 am.

    As you see, these are significantly outside the Core Hours Framework.

    The problems as many residents see then are as follows:

    By allowing one premises to operate outside the Core Hours Framework sends a message to all other licensed premises that the Core Hours are not sacrosanct and could result in other applications coming forward. If successful, the “drift” towards a “Camden Culture” could occur.

    Irrespective of how well run the Shebeen is, residents are concerned of behaviour of customers after leaving the premises. Residents currently experience the following problems from premises operating within Core Hours:

    Noise as people leave the premises, and as they wait for night buses or taxis to take them out of the area;

    Noise from customers as they walk away from the area through residential streets;

    People urinating in side streets, in corners as they walk away from the venues;

    Noise, as people hang around outside the venues, or go to cars parked in nearby residential streets. Often, people will sit in cars, chatting, or playing music. You then have the noise of cars leaving well after the venue has closed.

    Residents have stopped a late night takeaway culture in Kentish Town. Even so, a number of places are open. Customers leave licensed venues and then use the takeaways, creating additional noise. Some people take their food and sit in cars until finished, creating noise and leaving rubbish on the streets. The side streets in Kentish Town on a Saturday and Sunday morning provide ample evidence of this activity.

    Place where people congregate after licensed venues have closed (eg takeaways) create flash points for disorder as different groups come into contact with each other.

    Much of the above is CURRENTLY taking place in Kentish Town even under the Core Hours (athough thankfully very little disorder as most people to do not hang around Kentish Town currently). Many residents simply don’t want the current experience to be extended even later by allowing the Core Hours to be broken.

    I hope this provides a little more perspective for readers.