Art theft is big business. Very little gets returned, with most disappearing into the clutches of grasping private collectors, Thomas Crown-style, or – as is more likely – sold to fund underworld drug, arms and terrorist activities. In America, Sooke meets an unrepentant Myles Connor, the infamous thief who art-napped for a living, making a killing from rewards. He then turns his attention from the Mafia – thought to have stolen 1.5 million works of art in Italy over 40 years – to the most stolen work of art of all time, the Ghent Altarpiece, coveted by the Nazis.
It must be hard for an art lover to see his passion treated so indecently and Sooke is clearly miffed. Intriguing stuff.
The Grafton, a prominent Kentish Town booze-fixture for decades, had a 2013 makeover that made it a gastro-fixture as well. Since then the food has gone through several changes: in-house for a while, visiting Southern-style barbecue (uninspiring) for a while, then salt beef from the heavenly Bell & Brisket for not nearly long enough. The food policy has reverted to made-on-the-premises. And we hope this is a permanent decision, because The Grafton is currently dishing out some of the best food in Kentish Town. The menu changes regularly, but certain star dishes seem to be on all the time. Steak, expertly cooked and using exceptionally good beef, comes in three sizes ranging in price from £9 for 225g to £16 for 300g – a clever policy, since people have varying appetites for unadorned red meat. Soup is also a regular and is justly popular. A small plate of ‘tempura broccoli’ (£4.80) was as fine a piece of deep-frying as we’ve come across anywhere in London. Heritage carrot salad (served in two sizes, £6 or a main course for £8) featured a very tasty cardamom-accented dressing. And best of all was a dish of braised short ribs (£14) with carrots and carrot purée. Short ribs are everywhere at the moment, but this version – beautifully tender and with accompaniments simultaneously sharp and soothing – could rub shoulders with the best of them. Drink prices are easy on the wallet, with wines on tap and by the glass at prices that make some other gastropubs look greedy. The real a