The reinvention of urban spaces is a fascinating thing. Over the last decade the area has seen a fair few, from disused railway arches becoming breweries to abandoned tube stations repurposed as Escape Rooms.
Stepping into Kentish Town Road’s vast new cafe and co-working spot Neighbourhood Organic, it’s almost impossible to align it with what was there before: the former post office, an essential for everyone from time to time, but utterly perfunctory in every sense of the word.
The brainchild of Turkish entrepreneur Bora Meral, this new venture is a huge rectangular space, both industrial and European in its stylings.
“We want to create a friendly, supportive area within the community,” says Meral, “and stay true to our passion for organic produce. This organic theme stems partly from my agricultural background, and the honest values and love for quality food that have been passed down throughout the family.”
Step inside and, on the right, lining the big airy windows are cute shelves of cacti and houseplants, while comfortable Scandi-styled tables and chairs are carefully spread out to make social distancing pretty stress-free.
A window counter was full of customers poring over laptops on our midweek visit. Shelves with books artfully strewn add a boho vibe, while the mostly solo punters were beavering away at their work, with just the odd socialising couple of mates, or mum and baby to break up the studious #freelancer vibes.
But what’s the food and drink offer like? Well, the counter is equally vast and offers probably the most mind-boggling range of artisan-style pastries, cakes, breads, salads and sandwiches anywhere on the high street.
Recommended? Oh, the lemon cake, the, um, berry tart and smooth, strong americano with a good crema. The huge salads will give you at least your seven-a-day, and the cute brioche buns are stuffed with smoked salmon, roasted vegetables, or tender chicken breast, gherkins and soft cheese. But really, we’re only just getting started.
In the near future the team are also planning to incorporate an organic produce section, “selling a wide range of fresh fresh fruit and vegetables, safe in the knowledge that they can trust in our quality,” Meral says.
Oh, and, in case you’re worried about daily leftovers, “every single night after closing we package up all the remaining food that cannot be kept for the next day and distribute it among the local homeless people,” he says.
“We also have several regular homeless people local to Kentish Town that we encourage to come to us after closing time in order to have a bite to eat and a drink if possible. We hope this creates a space where everyone feels that they are welcome.”
In other words? They really are putting the ‘Neighbourhood’ into Organic. “We have received overwhelming support from the community,” he says. “For many this has been the first cafe they have been to in months.”
The store and cafe is open 7am-7pm daily, 212-214 Kentish Town Rd, NW5 2BY