Quiet, leafy Pitfield Street is just a block away from Silicon Roundabout, and despite the thousands of mamils and fixie-riders traversing its bike lane daily, it remains a sliver of London calm. This north-south thoroughfare runs almost up to the Regent’s Canal, taking in a churchyard and two parks en route. And, since it’s in Hoxton, there’s an espresso machine in almost every business on the street.
Pitfield Street dates back to the seventeenth century when Hoxton first came to life as a market. It acquired a gorgeous neoclassical church in 1826 and a popular theatre in 1870. Now, it’s home to hundreds of families and dozens of businesses. One of the founders of that church started the first ever savings bank; and the area’s radical history continues today with such homegrown initiatives as the Shoreditch Trust running a cookery school and Ministry of Stories organising literacy programmes.
Maybe you speed down Cycle Superhighway 1 but never get off your bike, maybe you work near Silicon Roundabout and haven’t had the chance to wander about on your lunch hour. If you are a stranger to Pitfield Street, duck away from the chain sandwich shops and get to know an inner-city neighbourhood that has survived the Shoreditch years with its dignity intact.
An excellent pint at The George & Vulture, which is the perfect place for a pizza pitstop on the way home from work. Coffee at Summer with Monika is a great reason to visit Pitfield Street. The outdoor tables and cinnamon buns don’t hurt either. The tiny Prince Arthur pub on Brunswick Place is a proper local hidden gem, just out of sight of the roundabout and ideal for escaping the madness of Old Street.
Experiencing cured salmon cravings? Curious Yellow Kafé’s got it covered. Summer with Monika’s older sister serves Swedish food and coffee all day. Bacchus pops up at The George & Vulture on Sundays to serve tasty roast dinners to hungover Hackneyites. Just beyond the north end of Pitfield Street, Russell Brand’s Trew Era Café serves local, organic veggie food at affordable prices. And it’s non-profit to boot.
Visit the Courtyard Theatre for a gig or a play. There’s a very bloody Roman revenge tragedy starting this week. Oh go on – it’s been on your bucket list since you read ‘Nights at the Circus’: book yourself in for a trapeze class at the National Centre for Circus Arts on nearby Coronet Street.
Browse for gifts at Pitfield London. It does nice presents for house-proud types and runs a neat little café. Discover beautiful artists’ books, zines and postcards at Book Art Bookshop. It’s also worth checking out the shop’s occasional in-store exhibitions. Find the boater of a lifetime at CA4LA (pronounced Ka-shi-la), the best hat shop for miles around. Pick up bike bits from CycleLab and JuiceBar, a little independent repairs shop that also does yoga, DIY classes and, yep, coffee.
If you only do one thing…
Have a fancy lunch at Friends of Ours. The kedgeree (tea-smoked hake, curried black rice, pickled cauliflower, soy-cured egg yolk, coriander) is to die for. And prices are super-reasonable.