Where can you find a cocktail bar in a disused public loo at one end of the road and Jeremy Corbyn’s old stamping ground at the other? The answer is Fortess Road, which connects Kentish Town and Tufnell Park, and offers plenty of opportunities for scoffing and boozing along its length. And yes, before Corbs relocated his bike and beard to the luvvie-topia that is Islington, he was a resident of Tufnell Park, as were Bill Nighy and Zane Lowe. Which is ironic, really, because in the 1890s social reformer Charles Booth wrote a book about London life that boldly declared ‘the rich would soon be gone’ from an area that at the time was full of merchants and music hall artistes.
Whatever the changes – or lack thereof – in this area, one thing’s for certain: the folk of Victorian-era Fortess Road didn’t have half as much choice of drinking spots as its modern-day residents have. There are bars and gastropubs galore, a music venue, cafés that will appeal to the Bugaboo-pushing mum contingent as much as to the sockless hipster brigade and, should you find yourself visiting at an hour before alcoholic drinking is socially acceptable, a couple of independent boutiques to peruse. What would Booth make of the street now? Well, he’s probably past caring, so why not go see for yourself?
Whether you’re after a leafy beer garden to sit in while praying it doesn’t rain or a rustic interior to chow down on gastropub grub, The Junction Tavern is your place. It even has its very own tipple: Sambrook’s Junction Ale.
Head to Aces & Eights in the evening to partake of an extensive spirits collection and dance to some classic rock (no irony required). If boogying to Bon Jovi makes you peckish, you can order freshly prepared pizza into the small hours.
If you want to nibble on tiny triangle sandwiches and slurp Earl Grey out of dinky floral china away from the gawping general public, book yourself and some mates a private tea party at the aptly named Tea Party. Does what it says on the tin of sponge fingers.
Found yourself on Fortess Road before breakfast time? Head to Bear + Wolf. Its range of fresh fruit smoothies and various sourdough toppings will set you up for the day.
The menu at Ethiopian restaurant Lalibela is bursting with flavour – think rich, colourful, meaty dishes. It’s also super-affordable at around £4 for a starter and £8 for a main.
Pop into one of Down to Earth’s drop-in yoga or Pilates classes, in a studio designed by a Central Saint Martins alumnus. Or browse the next-door shop for independently crafted homewares and beauty products. Minimalist heaven.
Sarah Khan’s boutique SK Vintage is vibrant with jaunty prints at all times. Expect to find rails of hippy-influenced ’70s frocks, piles of embroidered bags and a friendly shopkeeper.
Walk into Jessica de Lotz Jewellery and you’ll find a world where steampunk and minimalism collide. Her offbeat and dainty designs (often featuring eyes and tarot symbols) have earned her plenty of snaps from the fash pack.
If you only do one thing…
Head down a former public toilet’s steps, and you’ll find Ladies and Gentlemen, the brainchild of ‘craft spirit producer’ William Borrell. Not your bog-standard cocktail bar.
By Thea de Gallier, who wants her own fortress on Fortess Road
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