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A tiny neighbourhood bar in the heart of Crouch End.
Nickel is one of N8’s worst-kept secrets. The tiny bar is packed almost every night of the week with north Londoners sinking seriously good cocktails and snaffling decadent small plates. Around the corner from Hornsey Town Hall, it’s as petite as they come and there’s a no-reservation policy, but that doesn’t put off the thirsty hordes. With less than a handful of tables, most of the seating is up at the bar or at the window (a prime spot for people-watching). The interiors are kept simple: bare, minimal and bright, with retro-industrial touches. At night, the softly lit space becomes loud and steamy as the bar fills up.
There’s an ace wine list – with input from Borough Wines – but the cocktails are the stars. The Margot, an apple, elderflower and lime concoction spiked with gin, was beautifully balanced. The Bee’s Knees lived up to its name. Served in a vintage cocktail glass, the gin-based drink is laced with lemon juice, chilli liqueur and honey. It was warm, sharp and surprising from first sip to last.
Nickel’s food menus change regularly so we didn’t have a chance to try the famed goat’s curd and honeycomb, the stuff of whispered Crouch End legend. But the food’s theme is winning. We ate peppery ham hock on toast, topped with punchy piccalilli and a creamy, indecently big burrata with slices of tomato, peach flesh, basil and balsamic.
This part of town has waited a long time for a decent drinking den and you’d forgive locals for wanting to keep it to themselves. Problem is, when it’s this good, it’s hard to be tight-lipped.