© David John - Flickr: DavenJohn


Jamina Ward of Gingle Lists Everything’s five secret London spots

Posted at 5:30 pm, October 18, 2012 in Secret London, Top 5
Pollen Street Social © Michael Franke

Given the wide variety of activities available, Londoners ought to be obliged to have a good time. Admittedly it can be a bit overwhelming, so much so that the indecisive may end up doing nothing at all. Fortunately, London blogger Jamina Ward has categorised events in handy lists to make everything much more manageable. Here are her secret London spots, one from each list (clubbing, food, drink) and two from the ‘to do’ list. Add them to your own.

‘Even if you’re looking for Indo, you might not find it – I’ve managed to walk past it when trying to get there before. It’s an unassuming no-frills kind of place, more shabby than shabby-chic. If you were in the states you might describe it as a ‘dive bar’ because sure, it sometimes smells a bit, the loos aren’t the most well kept later in the night, and it’s pretty small. So why do I like it? Because it’s an unpretentious, laid-back bar, with a young but not poseur crowd, where it’s hard to distinguish the staff from the customers. It serves up decent booze, good-looking pizza and some really good tunes at just the right volume to appreciate them but still hear your mates. Sonic Youth were playing last time we were in there, followed by some reggae. It’s also not far from Brick Lane/Tayyabs so perfect for a post- or pre-curry drink.’

Pollen Street Social (above)
‘My boyfriend and I love a bit of ‘fine dining’, but we can’t afford to the 100-odd pounds it would cost for a three course dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant very often. Luckily, that doesn’t matter. Lots of places do set lunch menus or earlybird menus that don’t compromise on the quality of food but won’t hurt your wallet too much either. A recent favourite of mine is Pollen Street Social, particularly because they offer the set lunch menu on the weekends (many places don’t) so you don’t have to take a day off work to take advantage of it. The food is exceptional and at £25 for three courses, an absolute steal, especially when you consider that they don’t scrimp on all the little extras that make fine dining so enjoyable. There was plenty of baked in-house bread offered up, as well as amuse bouches, palate cleansers and petits fours at all the appropriate moments. A full Michelin experience for a fraction of the price – utterly delectable in every way.’

Ye Olde Axe, 69 Hackney Road, E2 8ET
‘It’s 3 am and you don’t want to cut short the party. Sure, all the clubs have kicked you out, and if you stopped drinking right now you might just avoid a hangover tomorrow, but tomorrow could be a year away for all you care. You just want to keep the good night going (at least, I always do). And this is when you thank your lucky stars for Ye Olde Axe. Allegedly a strip club before 12 (I’ve never been in before 2 am) this turns into a late-license nightclub of sorts after midnight. But it’s not just a last resort for all those too stubborn to go home. They play cracking music. Being in Shoreditch and staying open so late, you might expect the usual mix of electro and house, but no. It’s a Rockabilly night (loosely) playing stuff like Little Richard and Etta James. You get a mix of people here for the music or here because there’s nowhere else to go, but it’s a pretty friendly place, people dance, and it stays open until about 6 am. Then it’s time to go home. Or head back into Old Street for Club Aquarium’s afterparty…’

The Wellcome Collection
‘I really like the Wellcome Collection. It’s one of London’s lesser known ‘museums’ and always has interesting exhibitions that tend to mix science and art. I first went here to see their Sleeping & Dreaming show in 2007 which really struck me as a good way of combining the two traditionally very different fields. I have since been back many times as they change the exhibition downstairs several times a year. But, even if there isn’t anything on downstairs that you fancy, the permanent collection is well worth a look for its collection of medicine-related oddities. There’s a nice café and almost best of all entry is always free. But what I really love here is the Anthony Gormley statue. Even some of my friends who have been there have failed to notice it – as you walk in, just before you’re about to go into the ground floor exhibition – look up. You’ll see Gormley hanging upside down from the ceiling! I don’t know if this is a remnant of his Event Horizon, or a completely different thing altogether, but I never tire of it. I love how different his works are, even though they’re all the same thing – him! Not too far away, near Warren Street, you can stumble upon another one.’

‘I like a bit of variety in my nightlife. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit in a pub and get quietly drunk, but sometimes I want to be entertained at the same time, or dance, or pretend to be highbrow. Concrete is a venue that can provide all this and more. Almost every night of the week they have something on that is a bit different so you’re bound to find something to suit your taste, or if you’re feeling adventurous then just pitch up and see what’s on (as long as its not sold out). Literary Death Match and Musical Bingo hold regular nights here and both are raucous, fun parties. Anything happening there is rarely over a tenner and you’ll have a whale of a time. We all know Eating is Cheating, but if you’re hungry they also serve a selection of pizzas from the restaurant upstairs to soak up some of the alcohol.’

Read more from Jamina at ginglelistseverything.blogspot.co.uk or follow @ginglesnuff on Twitter

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