Friday, 24 September 2010

Crossrail and the end of a Soho block (or two)

I have ranted about Crossrail before - I mourn the passing of the Centrepoint fountain, don't even get me started on the Astoria and now I am faced daily with the destruction and complete removal of a whole block of Soho, specifically the block bordered by Oxford St, Dean St, Great Chapel St and Carlisle St.  Gone forever is the Bath House pub that used to be on the corner of Fareham St, the cool old building that housed the Black Gardenia bar just opposite and the amazing red brick warehouse on Fareham St with the arched windows (if you look closely at the photo above you can see the arches coming down).  You know what's kinda cool about Google Street View is that it's all still there - obviously their cameras went around Soho some time ago so you can actually see what it used to look like, which is sad...but cool.  And what will we get in return for losing this chunk of W1?  From the looks of the drawing a Canary-Wharf style station entrance for the new Tottenham Court Road tube and Crossrail station.  Is that worth the loss of a piece of "real" Soho?  I dunno - for me it's a definite no, but perhaps I am just being resistant to change/evolution.  What do you think?

Hooray - Brewed Boy is back

My favourite mobile coffee dude Rob, aka Brewed Boy is back on Rupert St in Soho after a short absence.  Gone is the dinky grey cart and in its place is a bigger, more permanent looking structure (even though it's not permanent so prob a bad description...) that gives Rob more room to stretch out and work his caffeine magic.  Apparently there is now also food, in particular some super-tasty sounding brownies but unfortunately they are so good that when I went by this morning they had sold out (twice no less).  Rob is also sourcing croissants so soon Brewed Boy will be your one stop breakfast destination.  Rob is also now part of which sounds intrigiung, check it out.  As readers of this blog will know, I love my Milk Bar, I am also fond of Lantana, Kaffeine, Tapped & Packed and others but without doubt the nicest overall coffee experience in London is Brewed Boy - great coffee, well made, served by one of the nicest fellas you'll ever have the pleasure to meet.  So get down and re-acquaint yourself if you are an old customer and if you are a newbie, do yourself a huge favour and become a Brewed Boy regular, it will get your day off to a great start.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Hatchards - Piccadilly W1

It was a tough call as to what was my favourite bookshop in London - I love Daunt Books in Marylebone High St and I am very fond of Foyles (and have blogged about it before) but I think the winner has to be Hatchards in Piccadilly.  It is the oldest surviving bookshop in London, operating since 1797, but it has no sense of stuffiness that usually goes with that "oldest surviving" tag.  In fact the staff are so lovely that you feel like you could hang out there all day (I would so love to do that, maybe popping down the road to the Wolseley for some sustenance now and again).  I feel sorry for Waterstones a few shops down - because who in their right mind would go there when Hatchards is nearby?  Having said that, Waterstones always seems busy (I don't buy books there but I do use their toilets sometimes!) - maybe I'll stand outside and make sure people are aware that if they just keep walking for another 50 metres they could be in one of the world's best bookshops.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Ginger & White - Hampstead NW3

I don't often get up to Hampstead and whenever I do I am struck down with a severe case of suburb-envy.  Oh it is lovely up there.  I had to go and pick up my friend Neil and I was a bit early so decided to park (only possible because it was a Sunday) and seek out Ginger & White, as I had read such good things about it.  Located in cute Perrins Court, which runs off the High St, just near the tube, my first impressions of Ginger & White were "looks cute" then "oh crap, it looks really busy" and it was, heavingly so.  I always think it is the test of a cafe how they deal with too many customers and these guys seemed to be doing...OK.  I hate the feeling of ordering something and then standing around feeling more and more awkward waiting for your coffee/salad/long island ice tea and at G&W I was just beginning to think "for f*ck's sake get a move on" when the coffee came.  And it was delicious, really good in fact - they use Square Mile beans and the over-worked barista poured an exemplary flat white.  I also (and those that know me will be surprised by this) enjoyed a lovely friand - although I had well and truly devoured it by the time my coffee arrived.  Sometimes I think there are just way too many people in London, at least at the places that are good - anyway at the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, if you are wandering round the leafy streets of NW3 make sure you take time to pop in to Ginger & White, they make great coffee.  Just try and pick a quiet time.

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Friday, 3 September 2010

Lots Road Power Station - SW10

I have an obsession with derelict power stations (what does that say about me I wonder?)  Battersea Power Station is my favourite building in London and Lots Road Power Station in Chelsea also floats my boat.  There are developments planned and that always makes me nervous - but I suppose it is better than demolition.  I just love that you can really get a sense of what this precinct was like when the power station was up and running - obviously with the planned shopping/residential development, including I believe two high rise towers, this will all change.  So get down there while it still has its derelict charm!