It’s a been a surreal winter, hasn’t it, what with Omicron-mania giving way to the complete relaxation of all Covid rules a month early (from 24th February)? So it’s surely a miracle that new local food and drink businesses are even opening at all.
But with spring quite literally round the corner, they’re birthing as regularly as baby lambs across the various postcodes of Kentish Town, Archway, Belsize and Tufnell Park.
After a whistle-stop tour of the immediate area this week we’ve rounded up a diverse list of newcomers that stand out. First up, on Highgate Road, an olive’s hurl from fabulous Kentish Town institution Rossella, is cute new artisan café and organic health store Mimi & Moon. It’s seemingly taking forever to open, but it’s now nearly there.
On a similar tip is Allganic & Moore at 67 Fortess Road, right near Cafe Palestina: this week it finally flung its doors open as a vegan cafe, fresh juice bar, and organic produce one-stop shop for fruits, seeds, veg, with the emphasis on “natural healing properties.”
Speaking of greens, just up the road is the quite remarkably reinvented Fam Market, more along the lines of its swanky Swain’s Lane sibling: think crates of heritage tomatoes, vast fridges of salads and an airy space that makes full use of its occupation of the former InsideStore.
And a mile or so west, over on Haverstock Hill’s lower slopes, is the newish Remedy Kitchen, an instantly busy NW3 café which also majors on all things plant-based.
Need a little sugar in your life? Read on. Two more arrivals on Fortess are somewhat less virtuous – but, thankfully, 100% more hedonistic. At #129 Paddy’s Cakes looks like a delicious addition to the stretch: within its smart-cafe interior – all parquet floors and comfy chairs (see above) – you can sip Holloway’s superior Vagabond coffee and take your pick from the day’s selection of viennoiserie and patisserie, while putting in an order for posh cakes for any forthcoming celebrations.
Meanwhile, a couple of doors down (at #141) is the relocated Caps & Taps, a much better space for one of NW5’s best craft beer and natural wine store than its previous lower Kentish Town Road location.
Which brings us to the the central stretch of NW5 itself. At #235 Kentish Town Road, Kantin is back and has reinvented itself as a pizza-by-the-slice joint: with fermented dough and deep crusts, toppings vary from full vegan to BBQ chicken.
Poultry fans should also march five minutes further south to the former – and much loved – Arancini Brothers, where you’ll discover it’s now called Chicken Kitchen, whose USP is a grilled or fried dumpling burger, to be eaten on colourful diner seating under neon slogans.
Now hike right up Junction Road to the new LGBTQ bar occupying the former Zodiac London, which has itself moved to Hampstead Road and is central to this year’s LGBTQ History Month events: at #114, Siorai boasts rainbow flags flying outside, karaoke, drag and club nights with a Greek-focused food menu. Finally, carry on past Archway tube, and on the tip of the vast Navigator Square is the soon-to-open Islington Radio cafe, owned by the landmark Archway Tavern opposite.