Time Out London: Harringay guide

Last month I wrote a little guide to Harringay, my ‘hood, for Time Out London. Read on for the places I like best, after frequent frequenting*

Tree-hugging, neon lights and Turkish wedding parties: it’s the best bits of Harringay

Harringay will put a spring in your step, and an inch on your waist.

Why go there?
For the food, bars and buzz of a great place as yet largely undiscovered by the non-Turkish masses. But mainly for the food.

What’s the vibe?
Hectic. Harringay’s Grand Parade on Green Lanes (where every place mentioned here is located) is a street that never sleeps – it’s a blur of neon lights, 24-hour fruit-and-veg shops, young families and professionals, students and the occasional Turkish wedding party.

 © Jessica Long© Jessica Long

Sounds good. What’s on the menu? 
There are ten Turkish restaurants doing a roaring trade within less than a mile.Gökyüzü offers the friendliest and most efficient service and, more importantly, the finest meat platter. Antepliler isn’t bad either, especially with its big wood oven in the front for Turkish pizzas. A crop of non-Turkish places has also recently sprung up: Bun & Bar serves burgers and cocktails, while Autograf Grill claims to be ‘probably the best Polish restaurant in London’.

Got the meat sweats?
Try casual café Mezzo, or the Harringay Sunday market which frequently includes a bánh mì stall.

The Salisbury Hotel

Let’s get drunk!
Make a beeline for The Salisbury. It’s staggeringly big and has everything you could wish for in a London pub: a revolving selection of ales, stuffed animals and a roaring fire. Jam in a Jar has a friendly Lower East Side dive vibe and heaves on weekends, when it plays host to Americana-flavoured live music.

gozleme at hala

Time for some sobering retail therapy.
There’s an imposing Hawes & Curtis Outlet Store selling heavily discounted threads, and the curious soon-to-open Harringay Local Store, whose window states it is ‘Not another Tesco’. It’s opposite Tesco. But, mostly, Harringay is all about food, so eyes on the prize. Yasar Halim is the best bakery on the block – grab some flaky baklava from there, or a gözleme, a pastry stuffed with spinach, mince, cheese or potato, from the ladies making them in the window of Hala.

Now how about a nice sit down?
Finsbury Park is but a ten-minute walk away, while down near the Overground station, the surprisingly peaceful Railway Fields nature reserve is also sporadically open to the public for dawn chorus walks and tree-hugging festivals and the like.

And if I only do one thing?
Sip Turkish black tea with lots of sugar outside Café Lemon and watch the action on the Parade whirl past.

By Becky Lucas, who lives on Harringay Road, in Harringay, in the borough of Haringey. The previous resident was called Harry.

*Two little edits I’d like to make to this piece. In fact, let’s go for three: 1) If you’re only going to do one thing in Harringay, it should really be eating the mezzes and meat feast at Gökyüzü, rather than sitting outside Café Lemon. I just couldn’t repeat myself. 2) Blend café was edited out of my copy and it is absolutely by FAR The best café on the strip: the perfect place to spend a few hours with your laptop (in fact, I am in Blend as I type this). 3) The picture of The Salisbury included is extremely out of date. A lot of money has been spent making the pub and area surrounding it a lot grander.

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Time Out London: Jam in a Jar bar review

A review of my favourite little artsy dive bar in North London. Come discover Jam in a Jar.

The ‘Jam’ in this bar’s name doesn’t refer to the preserve, or to the local traffic, but is used in the impromptu musical freak-out sense. Harringay’s Jam in a Jar marks a sea change for the particular stretch of Green Lanes known as Grand Parade. It forms a hat-trick alongside impressive refurbished Victorian boozer the Salisbury down the road and yummy mummy café Blend next door.

‘Qwerty’, stamped in higgledy-piggledy typewritten characters constitutes the bar’s main signage and reflects its laidback leanings. The intimate interior has exposed brick and bare wooden floorboards, with a couple of dark leather sofas and armchairs, art for sale on the walls and a giant old transistor radio and some bongos by way of ornament.

Jam’s drink selection is equally small but well formed. There are four or so cocktails (margaritas, mojitos), Kozel, Estrella and Pilsner Urquell on tap, two red wines, two whites, one rosé, and seven or so ciders and bottled beers. Brunch, dinner and snacks are covered by the food menu, whose high point is the Jam in a Jar Special: an epic stacked burger, with pineapple, bacon and a fried egg thrown in for luck, only to be ordered by the ravenous or particularly fulsome of stomach.

Yet, as the bar’s name suggests, what makes Jam exciting is not its refreshments but its embrace of local arts and music: revolving musicians play really rather good blues, jazz, garage rock and whatever else suits their mood on weekend nights, drawing artsy, beard-heavy crowds so large they spill on to the pavement. Get there before 7pm on a Saturday if you want a table inside: later on it really is like being jammed into a jar, albeit one full of nice tunes and booze.

By Becky Lucas

Venue details

  • Address:599 Green Lanes
    London
    N8 0RE
  • Venue phone:

    8341 1116

  • Transport:Tube: Turnpike Lane. Rail: Hornsey

Sunday Times Travel magazine: Best Beds

This month’s issue includes my round up of the best and buzziest hotels in Dubai right now, from the new Anantara Dubai The Palm, on stilts over the sea, to Barjeel Heritage, a recreated traditional Emirati guesthouse. You’ll also spot my mug on the Contributors page.

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Cntraveller.com review

Check out my experience on London’s first ever afternoon tea bus tour on Conde Nast Traveller‘s website. Thoroughly recommended (the tour, that is!)

LONDON BUS AFTERNOON TEA TOUR
BEST FOR: SIGHTSEERS IN HEELS

London buses: not a mode of transport you’d normally associate with such a sophisticated pastime as afternoon tea. But then you haven’t been on BB Bakery’s bus yet – aka ‘Rodney’, a shiny 1960s Routemaster, which the Covent Garden family-owned bakery recently restored and put back on the road for its new Afternoon Tea Bus Tour.

Served on vintage crockery in keeping with the retro bus, the tea includes dainty sandwiches, quiche, macaroons, cupcakes, lemon-meringue pie, strawberries-and-cream cakes, scones and particularly delightful brownies, with a flute of pink champagne and tea; English breakfast, Earl Grey, green and various other options (served in a less-delightful but reassuringly spill-resistant paper cup with a lid).

On-board waiter Jean-Philippe manages to simultaneously charm and serve all customers while keeping his balance in the aisles during the 90-minute ride. Outside, if you can tear yourself away from the brownies (and the attentions of Jean-Philippe), you’ll catch iconic landmarks including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye on a route that travels from Trafalgar Square and back via Kensington and Notting Hill – although thankfully there is no audio tour guide to interrupt the spirited conversation.

The bus-tour tea is the first of its kind, and brilliantly combines sightseeing with other classic English pursuits of afternoon tea, cake and a charming piece of history. If only all bus rides were this much fun – what a merry city London would be.

Afternoon Tea Bus Tour, £45 per person. The tea lasts around 90 minutes and departs every day at 12.30pm and 3pm from the London Eye. For more details or to book contact BB Bakery (020 7237 3392; www.bbbakery.co.uk).

By Becky Lucas

Review: Why putting lots of pollen on your face keeps you young

Set down one of Covent Garden’s sidestreets, Thai Square Spa is a haven of compact calm amid the West End hubbub. On my recent visit, I was firstly treated to two friendly faces and handed a short form to fill in by the Thai reception staff, before being encouraged to settle onto one of the traditional wooden seats, opposite a slightly tense looking couple (couples treatment first-timers, perhaps?). Next, I was flourished with some special herbal tea which, they informed me, had been freshly infused that morning. A couple of sips later – you never have time to drink that first cup of spa tea, do you? – I was introduced to my (again, Thai) facialist (yes, that is what someone who gives facials is called), who led me to the ladies changing room and handed me a dressing gown, slippers and a locker key. Thankfully, Thai Spa Square is not one of those places where you must change into disposable underwear for a facial – a procedure I never quite understand.

Once on my back on the massage table in the cosy, comfortably heated treatment room (not too cold, not too hot – keeping this Goldilocks happy), listening to the hushed, not-overly-plinky-plonky background music, my facialist got to work with my requested Seven Pollen Facial. Over the course of the next hour, she applied dozens of lotions and scrubs to my skin – all of them pleasant in odour and sans any skin-stinging side-effects. The products incorporated (you guessed it) seven different pollens as part of a secret recipe, famously used by the Thai royal family in order to keep skin balanced, relaxed and boasting a healthy glow, via a process of ‘cleansing, balancing, repairing, moisturising and awakening the skin’. I don’t think my skin has ever done so much in its life, let alone an hour.

And this facial wasn’t even just a ‘facial’ – it was a massage too. At least the last 15 minutes of the treatment (it’s hard to keep track of time when you’re in a dark room with your eyes closed and you’re almost deliriously relaxed) included a thorough head, neck, shoulder and arm massage, all to help encourage overall radiance.

Once I had my clothes back on, I repaired to the softly-lit unisex relaxation room for a full cup of that sweet herbal tea and a leisurely flick through the spa’s stock of magazines (stylish consumer titles including Dazed & Confused, Conde Nast Traveller and House & Garden – FYI). A quick farewell wave later – thankfully accompanied by no product hard-sell from staff, despite the display shelves upstairs – and I was back out on Covent Garden’s cobbled streets, markedly unwound, to the point where I wasn’t even overly worried about my lack of make-up. Whether passersby were, I don’t know. Or care.

The all-important question: did the facial make any actual difference to my face? Over the next few days, at least four people commented that my skin ‘looked good’. One even said it looked ‘all glowy’. And these aren’t the sort of people to give a compliment for no reason.

So, it seems those shimmering, wrinkle-free Thai Royals – and, perhaps, bees – are on to something.

Entrance Treatment room

Review: Poetry slammin’ in NW1

Last night I went to see my first dose of live poetry in London at slam tour Hammer & Tongue‘s Camden leg, encouraged by host Michelle Madsen (who, did I mention, has a new book out?). As daunting as this Monday night jaunt may sound, the standard was impressively (and, I’ll be honest, unexpectedly) high – especially for those who had never ‘slammed’ before. Particular highlights were BBC Radio 4 Slam Champion Ben Mellor‘s piece about smashing up his late father’s old piano (surprisingly tear-jerking) and manic Chris Parkinson’s poem about the rise of the Grammar Nazis (“They started with the grocers”, a fabulous first line). Mutton-chopped Parkinson is also the man behind a certain Gumtree ad hunting for flatmates willing to dress up and impersonate a walrus for two hours a day in exchange for free rent – now the inspiration behind Kevin Smith’s next Hollywood film, out this ‘fall’.

And then there was the slam-dunking winner of the night’s new poet contest, whose name I don’t remember yet but will (she’s the lady in the image below – with the specs), and her romantic rhyme about lovers ‘S’ and ‘T’ who scratched their names onto Bournemouth pier, and without whom ‘R’ would never reach ‘U’. No faux rap-star accent or hand gestures, no glib subject matter; just a compulsive little story, hinting at the sort of pillow talk everyone can tap into.
It almost inspired me to write some rhymes myself.
Almost.
(But did I mention my friend Michelle Madsen has a book out?)

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