By day and by night, London is bursting with amazing things to do and places to go, so there’s never any excuse to stick to the same old scene. Mix up an original Saturday afternoon with mates or do something different for a Tuesday night out with someone special, and be inspired by our pick of this month’s more intriguing London highlights.
This wonderful West End picture house is one of the best places to see classic films. Along with Q&As with directors and screenings with live music, recent sessions have included a ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy binge and a Harvey Keitel-tastic all-nighter of 1970s New York films. November selections include ‘Scarface’ (Nov 12) and ‘The Untouchables’ (Nov 26) and there are regular weekday matinees for £8/£4. No wonder it’s Time Out readers’ favourite London cinema.
Long for something more personal and intimate from a night at the movies? The Lexi in Kensal Rise is a tiny, friendly cinema nestled between two houses. Outside, the words ‘I am a cinema. Love me’ are written, and as any discerning local will tell you, it’s an easy place to love. All profits go to charity, they show the latest movies as well as hosting classic film nights – and you can grab an armchair (a proper armchair, with candles on side tables) in the front row.
Freak out, man! As part of the Barbican’s blockbuster Pop Art Design exhibition, check out this series of movie screenings. The films on show reflect the cultural climate in which the innovation, excitement and visual daring of the Pop Art era had a huge influence. Drink in the swinging sixties with ‘Blow Up’, ‘Smashing Time’ and ‘Performance’, or set your controls for super-sci-fi with ‘Forbidden Planet’ and ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. And don’t forget to wear your grooooviest outfit… Nov 28-Dec 4.
Use your eyes and your ears to enjoy this true classic of silent cinema. Abel Gance’s 1927 silent film ‘Napoléon’ is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful works ever made, and composer Carl Davis wrote a magnificent score for it, which is rarely performed as a live accompaniment. Here the Philharmonia Orchestra will play during this marathon screening (with three intervals), starting at 1.30pm and ending at 9.30pm. It’s the serious film event of the month. Nov 30.
Revive the days of the great music video with this funky, fun late-night VJ session at the Jazz Cafe in Camden. Book a table with mates and enjoy the sights and sounds of the best hip hop and R&B around. And if you have a personal favourite, post it on their event wall so your hosts can play it on the night. Fourth Friday of every month.
Make like a hepcat and get along to this internationally acclaimed annual celebration of great jazz. From the biggest names in jazz and soul to late-night sessions with upcoming talents, there’s every kind of style and mood on offer. Venues all over town are taking part, with highlights in Soho including star names at the excellent Pizza Express Jazz Club and free 10pm sessions at Ronnie Scott’s, just around the corner. Nov 15-24.
Instead of going clubbing, why not stretch those brain cells just a little, and groove out at the same time? Harry’s Quiz (at the King’s Head, N8 on Wednesdays and other venues during the week) is not only great fun, it’s packed with music and movie rounds – and the DJing is better than many straight-up London club nights. Your host Harry Ainsworth, cheesy alter-ego of comedian Garth Cruickshank, is friendly and funny, too. Every Wed.
Upstairs in the intimate music room above the excellent old boozer The Betsey Trotwood in Clerkenwell, this is a wild acoustic session where you’re just a banjo pick away from the action. Each month there are acoustic guests, along with a regular set from the host band, Foghorn Leghorn – a rattling, rousing bluegrass outfit who play originals and ol’ mountain favourites. If you're lucky you’ll get their fabulous rendition of ‘The Ace of Spades’. Second Thursday of every month.
Sample gourmet fast food, New York-Taiwanese-Japanese style. Flesh & Buns specialises in hirata buns, a US take on Taiwanese street food popularised by New York’s über-cool Momofuku Noodle Bar and now wildly popular in Japan. Folded Chinese-style fluffy buns are brought to the table for diners to stuff with their choice of succulent meaty fillings. With funky waiting staff and loud music rocking out, this is much more than just a pit stop for a refuel.
Go south for Balkan delights – south London, that is. Peckham already has some of the best-rated bars in London and a thriving art scene, and now there’s another reason to head down to SE15 – this great pop-up caff. The menu is simple and full of well-priced treats prepared using Turkish, Greek, Albanian and Iranian recipes. Your tastebuds will transport you to another world.
Dine on great Japanese food that no one else knows about. Blink and you’d miss Kirazu – it doesn’t even have a sign over the door – but those in the know come here for the kind of food you rarely get outside Japan. Communal tables and bare lighting give the place a hip canteen feel, while chef Yuya Kikuchi serves up small plates themed around obanzai – simple, delicious Kyoto home cooking – plus ramen and daily specials like the Osaka street food takoyaki, griddle-fried battered octopus balls.
Ever tried authentic Peruvian home cooking? Now’s your chance! One of Time Out’s best-rated recent reviews, Emanuel takes up a cosy basement space in the unlikely setting of Walworth, south London. There’s an emphasis on fresh ingredients and authentic preparation, with a friendly family welcome. Oh, and the lively atmosphere is made even more jolly by the fact that the tasty three-course lunch only costs £7.
Ever fancied living the life of a Victorian gentleman? Well you can experience it, for a little while at least, at this quirky bar on Upper Street, decked out as if it were the cosy, elegant sitting room of a 19th-century explorer. Just opened this autumn and already garnering stylish regulars, H&P shakes a great cocktail, too.
Raise a glass to the finest mixology that’ll warm you through the winter in this Peruvian pop-up, serving lovingly prepared pisco sours on Thursday nights up to Christmas. Promising ‘fun, food and cocktails’, Señor Ceviche transforms Dukebox on the Fulham Road into a palace of Peruvian pleasure, with four-course feasts for £25 and live bands and DJs until 2.30am.
For those of us who believe a cocktail should be enjoyed in a setting that matches the care, attention to ingredients and sense of pure fun in the drink itself, Callooh Callay is the perfect destination. Choose from an imaginative cocktail menu while enjoying the curious modern-east-London-goes-Victoriana of the front bar, the quieter discretion of the lounge (marvellously, accessed through the wardrobe doors) and the pop-up curiosities in the Upstairs Bar.
Hit the best basement bar in town. Dabbous is one of the hottest and most innovative dining addresses right now, but don’t let that distract you from Oskar's Bar downstairs – a must-visit destination in its own right. Cocktails are mixed with great imagination, premium spirits and gorgeous natural ingredients like birch tree sap. Yes, really!
See something that goes beyond the usual old-European-art exhibitions. In a bold and exciting presentation, the Royal Academy of Arts is hosting a collection of Australian art since 1800, brought to the UK by the National Gallery of Australia. Starting with modern Aboriginal art and moving on to works from the early colonial period to the present, it really shines in the pieces by more recent artists, revealing something of the true spirit of the vast nation. All month.
Have one of those ‘But is it art?’ moments with a friend and go see the first major solo exhibition by London-based Colombian Oscar Murillo. The artist emptied the contents of his studio for this free exhibition at the South London Gallery, revealing a gloriously oddball collection of paintings, constructions, works in progress and general ‘mess’, that reflects Murillo’s creative process. Until Dec 1.
Take a friend on a stroll around the City and see if you can trick them into believing that the flurry of office chairs hanging in mid-air are really about to fall on your heads. The City of London (around Bishopsgate, Lime Street and the Gherkin) has become an open-air gallery for works by some of the world’s great artists. Explore the streets and stumble on Robert Indiana’s ‘LOVE’ sculpture, Antony Gormley’s life-sized figures and a trio of giant steel dinosaurs by Jake and Dinos Chapman. All month.
See big names for nowt. Tucked away in the Dairy Art Centre in Bloomsbury until early December, this free exhibition features the work of several amazing artists you’d usually have to pay to see. Cindy Sherman, Peter Doig and Ai Weiwei are among the starry contributors to this collection, brought together to reflect ideas inspired by Aldous Huxley’s novel ‘Island’. All Nov.
Dress smart, think smart. Causing a big buzz in the autumn exhibition season, this major retrospective of the work of British fashion legend Paul Smith at the Design Museum reveals the inspirations and creative process of one of our greatest style exports. Funny, exciting and insightful, the exhibition even includes a faithful recreation of his mad, crammed little office. Nov 15-Dec 31.
Send flowers to someone special – by pedal power. Tapping into the current trend for getting around town on two wheels, Petalon is an exciting new, eco-friendly service based in east London, delivering as far west as Hyde Park. There are two seasonal bouquets every week, each priced at £20 including delivery by hand to your chosen recipient. Far more exciting than a van drop-off, plus £2 from each sale goes the charity Capital Bee. All month.
Enjoy a lie-in and still get the best of hip east London. Columbia Road flower market and its neighbouring independent shops are usually only to be enjoyed by those who can get up super-early on Sunday. But now, for trendy shoppers who are a little more nocturnal, the shops and stalls are open until 9pm on the last four Wednesdays before Christmas. Browse for funky one-offs from art to fashion and take in some seasonal cheer with food from local restaurants, mulled wine and live music. Nov 27, Dec 4, 11 & 18.
Get something truly original from local London craftspeople and upcoming artists and designer-makers, whether it’s for yourself or for Christmas presents, at this popular seasonal pop-up at Craft Central. They run courses and workshops all year round at their studios off Clerkenwell Green, but in summer and winter there are brief opportunities to buy works direct from the people who made them. Open late on Thursday November 28 and Friday November 29. Nov 28-Dec 1.
Sea Shell of Lisson Grove
Not much survived a 2009 fire that ravaged the Sea Shell. Thankfully, its black and white checked marble floor endures, as does the affection and respect shown it by regulars and staff: ‘How did you hear about us?’ one waiter asked. Fellow diners, mainly older couples, were smartly dressed for their fish and chip supper. But then, with pale art deco-style surfaces, big colourful paintings and a tank of tropical fish, this is one posh chippy – and has prices to match. Starters were of variable quality: a fish soup was weakly flavoured, yet whitebait were enjoyably large specimens with a robust crust. The batter on our cod (£14.95 with chips) was as delicate as the flesh was flaky, while panko-coated haddock came prickly with delicious spikes of the Japanese breadcrumb. Oil-free exteriors suggested expert frying. Mushy peas were deep green, and tartare sauce zinged with gherkins. Chips are ‘bottomless’ but we declined refills – they just didn’t seem fresh. Takeaways are much cheaper, though celeb-spotters should know that Bill Nighy usually eats in.