Streets of London: St Georges Avenue, N7

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Gastro grub and green space make this quiet Tufnell Park street a great choice for young families

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    With no through traffic, St Georges Avenue is a tranquil enclave

    Up until six months ago teenagers from council estates on miniature motorbikes were often to be seen – and heard – careering up and down St Georges Avenue. They were more comic than menacing – not least since the taller ones’ knees almost came up to their ears as they sat on their bikes – and illustrated two important aspects of this leafy north London street. Firstly, because of road blocks preventing through-traffic, it is one of the quietest roads in the area, and therefore a perfect playground for children wanting to try out their latest skateboard/bike-skills without being threatened by a flow of cars. Secondly, although its large Victorian houses make it sought-after by affluent media types and City workers, its closeness to the Holloway Road also brings a social mix which stops it from being hermetically sealed in bourgeois smugness.

    Its location is Tufnell Park, one of those areas of north London that no one seems quite able to place unless they live there. In fact Camden’s a near neighbour, Kentish Town’s just the whiff of a kebab away, and though you can’t quite catch the dogs barking on Hampstead Heath, if you walk for less than half an hour, you will. St Georges Avenue runs parallel to Tufnell Park Road, an old Roman road which in later centuries was famous for the dairy farms surrounding it. No cows are visible today, though if you look down the avenue from one of the several large roof terraces, there’s enough greenery to give the illusion that you’re in one of London’s more rustic areas.

    The chief attraction of the avenue, and other surrounding streets like Archibald Road and Anson Road, is that the vast majority of the houses – which generally have three floors and also, frequently, developed basements – were built in 1880. St Georges Avenue has been deemed part of a conservation area, which has good and bad sides: though it means that its Victorian character will be preserved, it can be fiendishly difficult should you want to negotiate terms for a loft conversion. There are a small number of modern local authority buildings which have been converted into private flats. The only purpose-built block on St Georges Avenue is on the end leading to Anson Road, and like similar blocks on Dalmeny Avenue – which intersects with St Georges – offers two-bedroom apartments at between £235,000 and £300,000.

    There are no shops on St Georges Avenue itself, but the opening of the fabulous deli Flavours (10 Campdale Rd, 020 7281 6565) round the corner has revolutionised the standard of local food shopping with merchandise that includes Moroccan delicacies or simply honey-mustard roasted sausages to combat a hangover. Residents suffering from serious supermarket addiction tend to indulge themselves at either Waitrose or Morrisons, 15 minutes away on the Holloway Road, or get a quick fix at the Sainsbury’s Local close by on Fortess Road. Others make the 15-minute journey to Seven Sisters Road for cheap fresh fish from Fresco Fisheries (No 60), quality fruit and veg at Michael’s Fruiterers (No 56), and some glorious baklava.

    St Georges Avenue is very much a retreat from the bustle of city life. Yet there are enough walking-distance opportunities for going out to stop it from being a social cul-de-sac. The Rustique Literary Café (142 Fortess Rd, 020 7692 5590), five minutes away, is not nearly as pretentious as it sounds, providing a laidback atmosphere for brunches or impromptu afternoon teas. A little further towards Kentish Town, the Junction Tavern (101 Fortess Rd, 020 7485 9400) is one of the nicer manfestations of the gastropub epidemic, while the Lord Palmerston (33 Dartmouth Park Hill, 020 7485 1578 ) also does very good food – even if it falls far short of delivering what was once a legendary steak. For those who want to dance, the Dome (1 Dartmouth Park Hill, 020 7272 8153) occasionally flares into action. On New Year’s Eve the venue was taken over by Club Kali, which describes itself as the world’s largest Asian lesbian and gay club.

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