You remember that guide to London you read a week ago? Forget it. It takes more than saying ‘off the beaten track’ and hackneyed references to cobbled streets to make a worthwhile London guide. I’m going to walk you through some places in London that Londoners (read: me) actually visit.
See and read more of Jason Dike’s Alternative London guide…
Shops and restaurants
You’ll be spoilt for choice for restaurants in London. Despite the abundance of choice, it’s still relatively rare to find somewhere that focuses on actual British food done well. I’ve had to defend English cuisine whenever we go abroad – the first place I bring up in our arguments is St Johns. It’s all worth eating but make sure you turn up for breakfast and try the bacon sandwich.
You know that unassuming place that serves great food? Of course you do, there’s one in every city. Cay Tre’s the place you take people to if you want to look like a real London insider. It’s so good I can’t even recommend one dish, you’ve gotta just go with whatever sounds the most delicious to you. Although if you’re trying to impress someone, just download their menu and pick the fanciest sounding dish. It never fails (or so I’ve heard).
If you’ve ever wanted to get your hands on classic issues of the Face and i-D, this shop is the place to do it. It’s not some nu-school ‘concept’ shop either. It’s stuffed full of old magazines, with everything from old NME (back when it actually called New Musical Express), ancient issues of Vogue to old movie posters. Prices aren’t extortionate either, so you’ll be bound to leave with a magazine or three.
By this point you should know all the London menswear stores, so I’ve had to choose something a little different. After you’ve gone to the Present’s, LN-CC’s, Goodhood, Anthem’s and Liberty’s our choice is The Vintage Showroom. SL have featured it before and if you go and take a look at the pictures, it’s easy to see why. It’s a menswear cornucopia. The kind of place thats so good you’ll actually use the word ‘cornucopia’. Not much will fit, mind, but any menswear enthusiasts should lose hours in this store.
Imagine a bookstore in your brain. It’s probably big and wood filled right? It’s probably got reference books so big you need a crane to lift them right? Daunt is that bookshop. There’s a few branches but I recommend the one on Marylebone High Street for (a) the amazing layout and decor and (b) to see how wealthy the locals are.
Stacked full of rare and interesting second hand books on design, drink, film, fashion and history, Henry Pordes books is the shop SL would launch. And that’s the greatest compliment. If you want proper old school England inside a bookshop, then here’s the place to go – they’re so authentic their website looks like it was created in 1998.
This is a relatively recent film, but it’s an underappreciated one that blows the bloody doors off nonsense like About A Boy. The premise is simple enough: an alien invasion hits a council estate in London and the results are funny, scary at times and touching in the right moments. It gets a bit Guardian at times, but don’t let that put you off.
A lesser known film from 1981, this is every bit as stylish as Quadrophenia. Focusing on a mechanic who fronts a reggae sound system by night, the film’s overriding theme is about race in London in the ’80s. I don’t want to ruin it by saying anymore, but anyone who likes film, style and film style should watch this.
Important notice for all those visiting London:
Stand on the right hand side on the escalators. The left side’s for people who want to walk up. British people will silently hate if you come over here and stand on the left. And, being British, they’ll express their hate via tutting and an exasperated ‘excuse me’. Then we’ll talk loudly about ‘bloody tourists’ when we’re out of earshot.