Quiet London: Siobhan Wall’s top six choices


Need some peaceful contemplation this summer? Try these surprising options – all in NW1



To mark three new books out next month, today writer and artist Siobhan Wall picks six places located off the beaten track in the borough of Camden. A senior lecturer for over ten years, Wall’s artwork has been exhibited alongside (Kentish Town-based) Paula Rego; as well as at both the Whitechapel Gallery and ICA. She is the author of Quiet London, Quiet Amsterdam, Quiet Paris and Quiet New York.

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Quaker Centre Cafe

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Take your herbal tea and blueberry muffin to the inner courtyard. Photo: Siobhan Wall
Just on the edge of Bloomsbury, The Quaker Centre Cafe is a large, open room inside Friends’ House. The space was refurbished a few years ago, and the 1927 listed building is now a welcoming place to drop in and browse books or just have a coffee and cake. The chill cabinets at the rear have apple, pear, beetroot juices and vegetarian sandwiches whilst muffins and cinnamon swirls can be bought from the main counter. On sunny days you can take your herbal tea and blueberry muffin to the inner courtyard and sit under a parasol. Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road NW1 2BJ Open Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm, Saturday 8.30am to 3.30pm, closed Sundays and bank holidays.
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Jewish Museum and Café

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Beautifully designed. Photo: Siobhan Wall
The small kosher cafe in this beautifully designed museum is a good place to rest your legs after visiting the precious Jewish artefacts and temporary exhibitions on the other floors. Try their apple strudel or honey cake with a cup of herbal tea. Over three floors, this well designed museum tells the history of the Jews in Britain from medieval times to the Holocaust. The Mikvah ritual bath on the ground floor is one of the highlights, as well as the displays of precious Haggadah manuscripts. Jewish Museum, 129-131 Albert Street NW1 7NB. Free admission to the café only, open Sunday to Thursday 10am to 4.30pm (Friday till 1.30pm).
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The Wesley Hotel and Café

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A calm, safe place to sit on your own. Photo: Siobhan Wall
Close to Euston Station but located down a quiet backstreet, the café in this welcoming hotel is filled with sunshine on warm days. In the Atrium restaurant, you can order a pot of tea and enjoy a light lunch cooked with ethically sourced ingredients. The high ceilings and simple decoration make this a calm, safe place to sit on your own or meet up with friends. Try their Cumberland sausage and mash or a buffalo mozzarella, tomato and avocado salad and one of their delicious ice creams and sorbets, made in their own kitchen. This is also a very nice place to stay overnight. All profits go to an educational charity so you can enjoy great food and hospitality, knowing that your visit benefits others. The Wesley, 81-103 Euston Street NW1 2EZ. The Atrium restaurant is open from 10am to 5pm, the bar 11am to 11pm.
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The Bree Louise

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Spend a convivial evening at one of the wooden tables. Photo: Siobhan Wall
This real ale pub has won many awards, both for its real ales and its seasonal turkey and cranberry pies. If you enjoy tasting different hand-crafted beers, this is the ideal place to bring your friends. The Bree Louise has eleven gravity ales and six pump beers, as well as a number of real ciders and perry. Beers on tap might change throughout the day as each barrel empties, giving you an opportunity to try something new if your favourite has just run out. Spend a convivial evening at one of the wooden tables, with a pint or two of the pub’s own organic pilsner and a wild boar burger. Bree Louise, 69 Cobourg Street, Euston, NW1 2HH. Open Monday to Saturday 11.30am to 11pm, 12pm to 10.30pm Sunday. Food served from noon to 8.45pm daily.
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Ambala Foods

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Filling lunches. Photo: Siobhan Wall
This Drummond Street branch is probably the quietest of Ambala’s six London shops selling Pakistani and Indian sweets and savouries. It is hard to walk out of the door without buying a few slices of crisp walnut baklawa dripping with syrup. If you are ever at a loss about what gifts to take to a dinner party, some succulent Rasgulla, Jalebis and rich, milky Barfis and carrot Halwas would delight any host. And for a very cheap, filling lunch, a bag of hot cauliflower and potato pakoras go very well with a jar of Ambala’s own chill and mango mixed pickle. Ambala, 112 Drummond Street NW1 2HL. Open 9am to 8.30pm every day.
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Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

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A wide programme of lectures, seminars, book launches, courses and exhibitions. Photo: Siobhan Wall
The Daiwa Foundation is one of London’s best kept secrets, but it deserves to be much better known. This elegant Georgian building is home to The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, a UK charity, established in 1988 to support closer links between Britain and Japan. They offer a wide programme of lectures, seminars, book launches, courses and exhibitions help us understand Japanese culture. This is not just a good place to see work by Japanese sculptors, such as Kanako Sasaki, Koki Tanaka, Zon Ito, and Lyota Yagi, but also images and ceramics by British artists who have lived or worked in the Far East. Previous shows have included etchings by RCA post-graduate Gemma Anderson and delicate, minimalist ceramics by former Daiwa Scholar Professor Edmund de Waal. DAJF, Japan House 13/14 Cornwall Terrace, (Regent’s Park Outer Circle), NW1 4QP. Open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5pm, Free entry.

All of the above picks are wheelchair accessible

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Quiet London, Food & Drink, Quiet London: Culture, and Quiet London, Quiet Corners, all by Siobhan Wall, are published on August 7. Each guide is priced at £7.99 (Frances Lincoln).

  • Show Comments

  • Joe Flatman

    Nice article and I I love the Bree Louise, but a place for quiet contemplation? I think not. Too well known and thus too busy most times of the day…