The sloping stretch between Chalk Farm and Belsize Park has had a rough old time of late, with closures and unexpected boarded-up outlets aplenty.
But autumn sees a rash of new arrivals, as well as some refurbed oldies. In Steele’s Village – ie the self-styled bit nearest Camden – while the Legal Cafe remains shut, the Load of Hay (formerly The Hill) is due to reopen after being closed all summer, with an as-yet-unidentified new look. (When we walked past last night, however, it looked as eerily dead as ever.)
Meanwhile new arrival next door Lisa Hauck has just moved her holistic hair and beauty salon from Primrose Hill to larger premises at no. 90 (she’s well-connected too, roping in telly’s Jonathan Ross to cut the ribbon recently).And over the road the former long running Ikura Japanese restaurant is about to relaunch as Izakaya Japan, the second branch of a restaurant whose flagship is in Finchley.
Fans of Wine Rack’s bargainous shop-cum-bar – what we once called the cheapest in London – will be pleased and displeased in equal measures: it’s had a spruce-up and is now a proper watering hole, with smart seating, draft pints – and no longer cheap-as-chips prices (was it really just £1.99 for a Hells? *Sigh*). Still, a pint is a reasonable £4. They need to dim the lighting a bit now though.
Finally, up the hill past the tube is newcomer Melange (240 Haverstock Hill), occupying the former, very shortlived Truscott Cellar: from the people behind the acclaimed Lazy Hunter in Kentish Town, the concept is inspired by “family trips to the south of France and Italy”.
We poked our noses in last night – sadly it wasn’t quite open – and its art deco-style interior looks pretty glam. But when it flings its doors wide on Saturday (30th Sept), there’ll be all manner of good-value set menus (£12.95 for two courses) as well as brunch, an extensive wine list, and an onsite bottle shop for takeaways too.