Follow Megan on Twitter @_megan_carnegie.
The 19 best cafés in Paris right now
The best café culture on the planet? Brave words, but Paris is a city defined as much by its bravery as the conveyor belt of caffeine that fuels this incredible array of cafés. No morning in the French capital is complete without espressos, pastries, bread and cheese, maybe a cheeky glass of red and yes, more espressos. That is just the morning, and any self-respecting day of sightseeing in Paris must include numerous café stops throughout. Paris is where writers go to write and where painters go to paint, where creative minds from all over the world flock in search of productivity and inspiration. Unsurprisingly, both can be found in the city's cafés, although many go to enjoy the soothing hum of Parisian conversation and this most genuine of ambiences. Many go for breakfast too, and you will struggle to find a better morning meal on the planet than the magic served up in the famous cafés of Paris. These are the best cafés in Paris right now. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Paris
The 14 best day trips from Paris
Paris may be beautiful, but boy is it built-up. And come summer… sweat-soakingly muggy. That means the stately inner-city parks fill up in no time, the piscines pack out, and even finding a canal-side patch of concrete can be a struggle. So thank goodness for the brilliant, tranquil, relaxing day trip. From Paris, you can get pretty much anywhere in northern France within a couple of hours, and there are plenty of excellent escapes to be had closer to home, too. From Parisian suburbs, to the Normandy coast. It's all surprisingly close and easy to get to. Hop on the metro or the train, and you're away. Take a spare bag for any goodies you encounter. Ready to get up and go? Whether you fancy roaming the the grand parkland and museums of Boulogne Billancourt, exploring the thriving arts scene of Vitry-sur-Seine, treading Monet’s picture-postcard Giverny turf, or hopping on the RER to an imposing Loire Valley château, our selection of the absolute best day trips from Paris should cater to day-trippers of all stripes. So... bon voyage! RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Paris
The best cheap bars in Paris
Drinking on a budget in Paris is no mean feat. But among the city's plush wine bars and speakeasies, are some miraculously cheap watering holes. Prepare to dive headlong into the finest Parisian nocturnal hangouts with our list of the best budget bars. All organised by arrondissement so you can quench your thirst wherever the wind may take you. Without breaking the bank. RECOMMENDED: The 100 best bars in Paris
The city's best Halloween club nights and parties
Fancy mixing up your Halloween celebrations this year? It falls on Monday October 31 2016 and Paris is bursting at the seams with spooky nocturnal activities. Prepare to rave until dawn, pay tribute to your favourite nineties vampire slayer and party in a former slaughterhouse. Halloween is followed by a bank holiday this year so there is no excuse not to party hard. All you need is an awesome costume and a post-night out brunch spot and you have yourself one excellent Halloween weekend. NEXT UP: Read the full Halloween in Paris guide
The 15 best cocktail bars in Paris
Paris may well have been the world’s ultimate cocktail city during the roaring ’20s, but it’s only recently regained its stripes when it comes to mixology worth splashing out on. Head here today, and in among the glut of beer and wine bars, you’ll find inventive cocktail dens blossoming all over the city. From the oh-so-British Cambridge Public House to charming Cravan – which specialises in inter-war mixes but does away with the overdone Prohibition vibes – there’s all manner of fabulous new openings you should check out. Feeling thirsty? These are the coolest, most stylish and best-value cocktail bars in Paris right now. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in Paris
Meet the woman behind London’s most magical toy shop
I was born at the end of 1935 in a Tudor house in Suffolk. I grew up surrounded by beautiful things – my father was Blair Hughes-Stanton, one of the best wood engravers of the twentieth century. My mother, Ida Graves, was a poet who sewed and made things for me. I started making toys when I was young, because I knew I wanted to do something with my hands and had a Victorian sewing machine. Being a wartime baby, I had very little, but it was toys I loved. I moved to London in my mid-twenties and settled in Camden Town. In the evenings I made “ostrobogulous” toys, a term my mother used to mean ‘harmlessly mischievous’, and sold them in Heal’s on Tottenham Court Road. Heal’s said this was its first ever toy department, but it was just my stand – though it was very successful! ‘There must be hundreds of thousands of toys here’ Throughout that time I was a member of the British Toy Makers Guild. I became horrified by how dismissive buyers and collectors were to makers, myself included. So I decided to open a little shop. I wanted to communicate with craftsmen and be constructive about their work – even when I didn’t like it! I started with a shop on Inverness Street in Camden Town. In the late ’70s, I moved to Mansfield Road in Gospel Oak, in a shop two doors down from where I am now. I bought my current shop in 1986 with the help of friends, and I’ve been here ever since. Over the years, the shop has evolved into a grotto. There must be hundreds of thousands of toys here – below
The ten best jambon-beurre in Paris
Introducing: the jambon-beurre. Crusty bread, salty ham, lashings of butter – that's it. There is a special place in every Parisian's heart for this humble lunch and it can be bought almost anywhere in the city. If that doesn't already scream 'icon', consider this: after burgers, the jambon-beurre was the most eaten sandwich by the French in 2015. Oof. And because there's nothing worse than a crap jambon-beurre, we took the hit and scouted out the city's best. Bon appétit.
The best croissants in Paris
While Londoners are losing their minds over Dominique Ansel’s cronut, the Parisian love affair with the croissant endures. These famously flaky pastries have been fuelling the city for hundreds of years – long enough to know there is nothing more tragic than a pale, soggy croissant to start the day. So after working our way through the finest jambon-beurre, we’ve scoured pâtisseries far and wide for the crème-de-la-crème of the capital’s croissants au beurre. Ranked on appearance (golden all over and brown on the bottom), pastry quality and taste, these buttery beauties are well worth crossing Paris for. Your breakfast may never be the same again.
The best pubs near parks in London
Now it's getting a little colder, a walk in London's glorious parks is best served with a cosy fireside chaser. If you don't fancy packing your pre-mixed cocktails for a chilly picnic, head along to one of these amazing watering holes. Not only are these pubs conveniently located next to London's leafy areas, but they're tip-top drinking spots on any balmy British day, should the sun unexpectedly rear its head. Discover London's best pubs near parks in the list below.
Romantic hotels in Paris
When plotting the perfect romantic getaway, you’d struggle to do better than a weekend in Paris. They don’t call it the City of Love for nothing and many of the hotels will bend over backwards to make your stay as passionate as possible. From rose petals scattered on the bed to heart-shaped waffles, these gorgeous lodgings have it all. Whatever your budget, trust our tried-and-tested selection of the best romantic hotels in Paris for an extra special stay. Looking for more options? Check out the best Airbnbs in Paris.
How to spend a perfect long weekend in Barcelona
Barcelona’s culture, architecture and world-famous restaurant and bar scene can feel overwhelming when you’ve only got 72 hours. But with LEVEL now offering low-cost direct flights from San Francisco for $350 (yep, you read that right) there’s nothing standing in the way of a long weekend (or several) in this captivating seaside city. With $1,000 under your belt, you can afford to travel with LEVEL’s modern fleet, complete with wifi, inflight entertainment and USB charging ports, plus a boutique hotel and all the tapas, vermouth, culture and art you could dream of. Check out our guide to a small budget, big on adventure weekend in Barcelona. Book your flight to jump across the pond now.
The 13 best things to do in Portsmouth
Portsmouth (or Pompey, as the locals call it) is one of the oldest seaside cities in the British Isles, and the best things to do in Portsmouth play off that. Located on Portsea Island—a thumb of Hampshire jutting into the Solent, it was the world’s greatest naval port during the peak of the British Empire and now serves as Britain’s foremost Royal Navy base. No trip is complete with a roam around the Les Miserables-esque dockyard, complete with four historic ships, including Henry VIII’s flop of a flagship, the Mary Rose, and an impressive cluster of museums. Although the big draw is still its incredible collection of maritime heritage, this seaside city has buckets more to offer, from ancient pubs on cobbled streets to contemporary art galleries to football supporters so passionate they must be seen to be believed (particularly Pompey John who has 60 tattoos and ‘P.F.C’ engraved into his teeth). Buzzing all year round and with a selection of picturesque pebbly beaches, this charming city is well worth its salt. See you in the splash! Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere. Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.
Listings and reviews (61)
Parts of the decor at Charlie’s will charm the pants off you: the velvet petrol-blue booths, for example, or the ornate border of tropical wallpaper; even the polished mahogany panelling is quite gorgeous, in that Mayfair library way. But Easter Island-style heads, trellis separators and chairs upholstered with striped towelling push it from playful luxe to a bit of a head trip. After all, there’s only so much fun you can have in a thickly carpeted room where the loudest sound is the rattling of the silver trolley doing its (perfectly sliced) smoked salmon rounds. Serving traditional wood-grill classics and modern British fare, the restaurant – which gets its name from Brown’s Hotel’s former owner, Lord Charles Forte – serves a menu that comes courtesy of Adam Byatt, who earned a Michelin star for his Clapham restaurant Trinity. Unlike the interior, many of the plates sing. A pre-dinner radish and whipped cod’s roe combo was an en vogue surprise while slices of raw kingfish came prettily topped with pickled rhubarb and blood orange. With most ingredients being simple things sourced from the UK, the devil is in the detail, such as a rich, coarse mushroom purée served with sirloin of beef or the toasted hazelnuts strewn over green beans. From those radishes to the celestial sourdough rolls and digestif petit fours and macarons – added freebies help justify the pricey bill. But in the golden era of relaxed fine dining, Byatt’s cooking (and covetable crockery) is ultimately let
Laverbread, mugwort salt, coal cream – the menu at Wilder reads a lot like a Robert Macfarlane book. Or a potions list for a Hogwarts herbology class. But I am extremely hot for it. In the cavernous basement of Terence Conran’s Boundary building you’ll find brooding low lighting, spindly Scandi furniture and bushels of foliage suspended from the ceiling. All of which set the tone for what is a pretty serious menu. Richard McLellan (formerly of The Typing Room and Pied à Terre) and the team rely entirely on ingredients sourced from UK pastures and seas, from the homemade vinegars to fish from Sir Tez’s country estate. Flavours, therefore, are growers not showers, so eat slowly and ask lots of questions. Or just close your eyes and try to guess. Because besides a forgettable brown-butter herring on toast and tempura sprouting broccoli with cod’s roe, everything we ate at Wilder was divine. Knobs of salsify (a neglected winter root veg) with fermented cabbage, creamed chervil and buckwheat was like the winter ‘salad’ of dreams, while a surf ’n’ surf of pleasantly crude sea trout and mussel was given added oomph by leek and wild garlic. A tempura nettle leaf appeared between courses, dusted in smoked cod’s roe and kelp emulsion – it was like a Skip that had won the lottery. But it’s with the desserts that Wilder comes into its own. Ice cream made from goat’s milk and beremeal (an ancient grain grown in Orkney) was malty, salty and reassuringly savoury. If I was ever to walk Land
The Betterment at The Biltmore
Super chef Jason Atherton has, to date, put his name to 18 restaurants across the world, with The Betterment – a brasserie-style affair housed within The Biltmore Mayfair – his ninth London venue. First, a warning: the hotel, perched on a corner of Grosvenor Square, has all the atmosphere of a wake. But make your way through its cavernous greige corridors and you’ll find a compact, swish dining room, opening on to a living-wall-lined alfresco terrace. Although waitstaff are dressed to the nines, their patter is more Soho bar than Mayfair fine dining, which we loved. Special mention goes to our sommelier (one of seven), who boiled the Magna Carta of wine lists down to an excellent red, a £40 bottle of Pittnauer Velvet. The menu consists of a set of surprisingly well-portioned dishes, all with seasonal leanings and friendly prices for the area. There were shots of pure brilliance, like the umami-heavy beef wellington, plus a side of snipped snow peas, iceberg lettuce and blue cheese: the ideal marriage of crunch, zing and honk. A bitter chocolate tart was dynamite. Inky, rich ganache in fine, nutty pastry, it came with Tahitian vanilla ice cream like none other. But there were flat notes, too. Like steak tartare topped with globs of tasteless mousse, the meat too dense for scooping up with the beef dripping croutons. Or a john dory fillet, which though exquisitely presented atop coco de paimpol beans (a type of haricot), was a fusion of underwhelming flavours. As for the decons
Please note, since this review was published, Moncks Brasserie has relaunched as 'Moncks', an all-day restaurant and bar. Time Out Food editors, FEBRUARY 2020. Named after the seventeenth-century lord Christopher Monck, this European brasserie is housed on his former Clarendon Estate, which later became Dover, Albemarle and Bond Streets. More noteworthy is that it’s from the team behind Park Chinois, the glam spot originally launched by Alan Yau. What’s also fun is that there’s a steep stairway that connects the two venues through the cloakroom (our waiter gleefully showed us). And while its interiors are different to those of its Cantonese cousin, they’re no less swish: all marble, oxblood-red leather accents, pleated William Morris-style wallpaper skirting the ceiling and bold, modernist prints on the walls. Food-wise, expect an unthreatening selection of brasserie classics. The butcher’s burger with sweet-sour caramelised onion relish ticked all the boxes, while the steak tartare was brilliantly textured, if a little under seasoned. It was a pity that the rosemary chips were chronically oversalted and lacking the promised herbs. Veg-based dishes provided some salvation: truffled asparagus had a tangy mustard dressing and buttered spinach was, well, buttery. The kitchen struggled to match the splendour of the interiors, but I’d happily return, if only to be treated like the Mayfair local I’m not.
Japanese and Italian may seem unlikely bedfellows, but chefs in the Land of the Rising Sun have been perfecting paper-thin pizza crusts and mastering the art of al dente for years. This Italo-Japanese mash-up – itameshi – is the MO at Angelina, an elegant addition to Dalston Lane Terrace’s restaurant strip. Inside, it’s a place of two halves: the front is all monochromatic fancy dining with ashen marble tables, bold foliage and lantern lighting, while the back is home to a bustling L-shaped bar overlooking the kitchen. Changing twice-weekly, the five-plate tasting menu is, at £39, a steal. It includes extras like homemade focaccia and bonito-dusted doughnuts with anchovy aioli. Our bustling Thursday night visit began with veggie fritto misto: battered sage and pumpkin, with hefty cavolo nero leaves the triumph of the trio. Sea bream sashimi, delicately infused with bergamot, came alongside a lukewarm celeriac and feta dish (truly the only bum note of the evening). While ‘starters’ were umami-heavy nods to Japan, the two main plates leant towards Italy. A giant raviolo came souped in a tonkotsu-style broth and dotted with crisp guanciale hunks. Later, I could have lapped the velvety soy butter on a John Dory fillet by the gallon. The devilishness of the detail carried right through to a monte bianco-style dessert: pumpkin biscuit base, with chestnut cream and a chewy, browned meringue top. While the space itself whispers ‘sophistication,’ the service is down-to-earth loveli
Now extending its all-day charms to evening dining from Thursday to Saturday, this casual spot is on the lesser-visited strip of Essex Road, which on the evening we visited was already pleasantly bustling. Styled as a 1950s Milanese diner (pillarbox red tiles, trendy terrazzo flooring, retro Italian produce), it’s easy to love, just like the menu. A combination of classic cicchetti, antipasti, pasta, pizza and meaty secondi, you’ll also find rarer delicacies on here, like vitello tonnato, or cacio e pepe arancini. When it flexes its deli muscles, Latteria is first-rate: our antipasti board came with generous helpings of cured meat, from fennel salami and bresaola to mortadella and prosciutto, plus sott’olio (literally ‘under the oil’) artichokes and homemade rosemary focaccia. The ham and cheese arancini were grenade-sized. Then there was a dinner plate-sized chicken milanese with a fine, crisp coating, while a creamy burrata served over expertly dressed datterini tomatoes. Only the under-seasoned tagliatelle al ragù was a major disappointment: stick to the grazing dishes. But, sat on the fair-sized terrace, savouring the dynamite tiramisu, it’s clear that Essex Road locals have a gem on their hand.
At the quieter end of Charlotte Street, this British small plates restaurant has everything you’d want from a neighbourhood joint: a cosy dining room, killer cocktails and an owner who’s clearly proud of what he’s serving. The concise menu is divided into meat, land, sea and cheese, with the standout dish being an artichoke, spinach and parmesan dip. Photogenic it was not, but the deeply cheesy khaki-green concoction was, when slathered on toast, the perfect comfort food. Also good were the kangaroo meatballs (a wild card for that evening), served on sticks with a gherkin-flecked burger sauce, and a generous slab of crispy-skinned miso salmon with manuka honey and a whisper of samphire. But other dishes were forgettable – like the tiny pot of smoked mackerel pâté (£7.25), which although nicely textured, lacked seasoning, while tenderstem broccoli came swimming in a nondescript oyster sauce. Despite the pride in sourcing top-quality ingredients, The Cutting Room could be much braver with flavours and textures. In such prime restaurant real estate, you’d be best off coming for a quick bite and a cocktail like the Cycling in Paris (a genius blend of gin, elderflower cordial, vermouth and peach bitters), best enjoyed on the street-facing terrace.
Dinner at this family-run Upper Street trattoria epitomises the ‘cucina povera’ (‘poor cooking’) of the Southern Italian region. Daubed on toast and served on a terracotta crock, the fave e cicorie (broad bean purée with wilted chicory) was velvety, earthy and humming with garlic. History hats on: back in feudal times, farmers torched any spent crops before re-planting, but allowed Apulian locals to glean any remaining grains first. They ground the leftover wheat into a smoky flour, which was used for breads and pastas and still serves as a memento of the hard times. Terra Rossa does this dark, nutty ‘grano arso’ (burnt grain) pasta with yellow tomatoes and black olives on a bed of puréed broccoli: smoky and bitter, it was like no pasta dish I’d ever tried (and vegan too). The pappardelle arrived topped with chunks of dark wild boar meat, which came off in delicate threads when prodded. Despite the pasta being ever so slightly too al dente for my taste, the ragù, inky with negroamaro wine, delivered just the right side of richness. Although it nails the Puglian charm inside – think nonna’s lacy doilies hung from the ceiling, rustic wooden furniture and exposed brick walls painted white – the best seat in the house is on the pavement itself. In summer, with the doors thrown wide open, it’s the sort of spot you’d linger (just don’t order the Bloody Mary: it was all tommy juice). In a street saturated by good dining, Terra Rossa has a lot to shout about – fresh, high-quality ing
Golden Union Fish Bar
You’d be forgiven for striding past Golden Union without a second glance. Pitched between Oxford Street and deepest Soho, its simple white frontage and red neon sign make it easy to miss. A frying cupboard in the window hides the charmingly retro dining room at the back, which, complete with a red and burgundy chequered floor, white tiled walls and soft, low-hanging lighting, feels more breezy American diner than Central London chippie. There’s even a jukebox, which the staff are constantly rebooting with tunes (diners are too happily involved in their food, which can only ever be a good thing). Provenance is king here: they promise they can trace all their fish, which is sustainably sourced from Scotland, Norway and the North Atlantic, back to the very boat it was caught on. A hefty ‘small’ cod (£13.95) had flaky yet buttery flesh and was beer battered to crispy perfection, while a hulking battered hake was pleasantly sweet (£15.50). Mains all come with a moreish mound of chips, made from Grade A East Anglian spuds. The pledge to use two types of oil, changed four times a week is evident, as nothing was overly greasy or heavy. Ideal really, because the sides –think deeply nutty mushy peas and girthy gherkins – are worth making room for. Special mention goes to the surreal fake foliage-filled window at the back. Underlit and spotlighted, it just the right side of naff. Clientele is a mix of tourists and locals, many of whom stick around long after they’ve polished off the l
Emilia's Crafted Pasta (Aldgate)
‘Homemade’ and ‘handcrafted’ are Emilia’s favourite words – appearing no less than seven times on the menu. This cute Aldgate corner joint wants to make its reverence for the art of pasta-making as clear as the polished glass frontage. Made fresh each morning with illustrations of each shape adorning the menu – from the recognisable rigatoni to the more unusual casarecce (short strips that appear to have curled up on themselves) – pasta provenance is its pride and joy. The compact selection of seven mains (or eight, if you include the salmon carbonara swap) is pleasantly balanced between veggie and meaty. Rigatoni with flaked yellow tuna fillet and tomato sauce was given a satisfying kick with peperoncino, a type of Calabrian chilli pepper, while a salsa di noci (walnut sauce) dish had satisfying umami notes. The non-pasta was less joyful: a buxom burrata was served with thin discs of fresh (from frozen) white baguette, green beans arrived wizened and wrinkly, topped with a bland pesto, and our desserts (salted caramel brownie and lemon cake) were tough around the edges. From its soft lighting to its admirable list of craft soft drinks, I was all set for Emilia’s to be the Franco Manca of pasta, but its over-egging of the ‘artisanal’ pudding set the dishes up for a fall. A solid choice for a quick, carby hit when you’re in the area, it’s not going to change your life, but it will certainly fill your belly.
After earning their frying stripes at Kerb, Hawker House and Flat Iron Square, the Mother Clucker team have come to roost by the restaurant-heavy Exmouth Market. Bar the wall of flashing LED signs, its black frontage doesn’t look like much, but the inside is dotted with ferns and walls are adorned with more stickers than a Panini World Cup collection. A mix of irreverent poultry-based catchphrases (‘Who got the key to the cluck truck’) and dude-ish illustrations, they’re worth gawping at while you wait for your grub. Brined in sweet tea for 24 hours, soaked in buttermilk and double-fried, MC’s delicious (halal) chook has a dark-brown peppery crumb – think Southern-style with half the grease and double the crunch. Wings were slightly lacking that finger-lickin’ juice, but the fried chicken burger was packed with tang (lime mayo) and crunch (lettuce leaf, plus that killer batter). Our dream combo, though? Four hefty ‘strips’ – which were basically fillets – (£5.50) with crispy cayenne-dusted skin-on ‘cajun’ fries (£3), dunked in homemade hot sauce and washed down with an ice-cold Tang – all with change from a tenner. There’s no table service and the food comes quick, so it’s not somewhere you’d linger long, but if you’re peckish and in the area, it’s pure poultry in motion.
Mr. White's English Chophouse
Lodged in Whitechapel’s trendy New Road Hotel, this British chophouse mixes clashing, geometric chairs with exposed ceiling innards and mirrored panelling. A younger, smouldering Marco Pierre White holding a cleaver is blown up on the walls and menus. The playlist was almost as nostalgic as the snaps, an ’80s mashup of Bowie, Eurythmics and Spandau Ballet. As for the food, it’s poshed-up British fare with a French accent, inspired by London’s ’60s chophouses, which served individual portions of meat to wealthy customers. This is still the case: the cheapest steak here is £26.50, but it was cooked to perfection. My French friend asked for hers blue and it was served teal, no bother, along with blistered tomatoes on the vine and a freshly made bearnaise that was liquid gold. There were decent fish and veggie dishes, too: melba toast with smoked mackerel brandade was more like pâté, coarse enough to fork but gloriously fishy. Without much fanfare, the entire menu is pork-free and halal. If you fancy diverging from Whitechapel’s stellar curry houses, this semi-shrine to MPW has the chops and ticks the boxes.
Doggy dining: places to eat with your pooch
Who let the dogs in? This summer your four-legged friends can accompany you to some of London’s most chic spots. We’ve picked the city’s most pawfect dog-friendly establishments. Daphne’s Round up your puppy entourage and head down to chichi Chelsea restaurant Daphne’s – for the first time ever, they’re allowing dogs to join owners for a spot of lunch. Pets must, of course, adhere to Daphne’s Doggy Code of Conduct, which means staying in the designated poochie area (the conservatory) and definitely no eating off the table. The best-behaved of the lot will be rewarded with doggy biscotti. Ahh. Hunter 486 at The Arch Not only does The Arch Hotel supply luxurious dog beds and bowls but the chefs at its restaurant Hunter 486 cook a made-to-order menu for your mutt. Doggie delights include poached chicken breast with rice, sardines, salmon and spinach or a veggie option of spinach, beans and carrots. Just a heads-up – in this case, it’s totally okay to ‘test’ your dog’s food. We’d do the same.
This street food scheme trains prisoners as chefs
Half of prisoners re-offend within a year of leaving custody, but skills and employment can cut that rate. Liberty Kitchen is a social enterprise scheme teaching the tricks of the street food trade to former and current prisoners at HMP Pentonville. As well as the knowledge and skills required to cook up a mean plate of meatballs, the chefs will leave the 12-week programme with an NVQ in Enterprise. With training like this, men (who make up 90 percent of the UK’s prison population) have better job prospects once they’re on the outside. You can do your bit by getting your chops around the Liberty cooks’ Ball No Chain range at Kerb in King’s Cross or Leather Lane Market. Check out the project’s website to find out where the boys will be dishing up next. Sign up here to get the latest from London straight to your inbox.
Most Googled: does London have a flag?
Back in 2016, in the wake of the EU referendum, people started talking about the capital breaking away from the rest of the country. But if Londependence is ever going to be a serious prospect, we’re going to need a flag. Wait – doesn’t London already have a flag? You’ve been Googling it, and the answer is, actually, no. Most of the capital’s 33 councils have a flag of their own, featuring either a coat of arms or a modern design. The tiny City of London has been flying its ensign – a red-and-white St George’s cross with the sword of St Paul – since at least 1663. Greater London – the entity created in 1965 out of the City and the 32 modern boroughs – used to have a flag, but it fell out of official use in the ’80s. The Greater London Authority, which has existed since 2000, has never decided on a new one – even though other major cities like Amsterdam, Paris, Tokyo, Chicago and New York have been flying their own flags for years. But could that change? After all, Birmingham voted for a snazzy new flag in 2015 in a competition run by the Flag Institute. According to the body’s chief vexillologist, Graham Bartram, there’s no reason why Sadiq Khan couldn’t start a similar campaign: ‘If the Mayor is worried about people not feeling like they belong in London, maybe he should look at having a flag,’ he says. Naturally, we put the question to the Mayor himself. ‘I’m happy to look into this,’ says Sadiq. ‘I’ll need to deny the rumours that persist that I will unilaterally declare
Things you only know if you run Smithfield Market’s Christmas meat auction
...according to Greg Lawrence, 68. The Smithfield Market meat auction started as a clearance sale ‘December is a busy, lucrative month for Smithfield traders. The Christmas Eve auction started 150 years ago as a way of getting rid of leftover meat at the end of the year, but in the early ’70s it became about selling off incredible premium cuts for next to nothing: the best turkeys, lamb, pork and poultry from England and Scotland, which would otherwise go to the city’s top hotels and restaurants. It’s not a big earner for us, but it puts everything great about the market in the limelight.’ Lucky bidders can win a prime cut on a coin toss ‘I’ve been running the auction for 40 years now and we’ve built up a load of little gimmicks. For instance, when we’ve got everyone into a frenzy towards the end, we’ll hold up something like a leg of pork and offer it for 20 quid or a toss of the coin. If we win we sell it for that price and if we lose we give it away.’ Veganism hasn’t dented the trade ‘I started at Smithfield in 1966. Most of the traders had been officers in WWII and chain-smoked while selling. Now it’s the most disciplined place in the world, with vets and meat inspectors walking about the place. There’s huge demand for boneless cuts now, which is a lot more labour-intensive for us, and although veganism and vegetarianism are on the rise, we’re still turning over just under £1 billion a year.’ Smithfield isn’t going anywhere just yet ‘The tenants of Smithfield are here by
Most Googled: does London Zoo have polar bears?
London loves polar bears, it would seem: one of the city’s most searched questions of 2017, according to Google, was whether ZSL London Zoo still has any. The short answer is no, but it did for many years. London’s last native Ursus maritimus was born on December 1 1967 to parents Sam and Sally, who had arrived from Moscow Zoo in 1960. He was called Pipaluk, a Greenlandic name meaning ‘little one’, and soon developed a healthy fanbase. Little siblings Triplet and Paddiwack followed in 1970 and 1972, but moved to other zoos as cubs. But things took a tragic turn in 1975, when Sally passed away after sustaining injuries during mating with Sam. Sam moved to Munich Zoo soon after, but Pipaluk and another Russian-born bear, Mosa, stayed in London for a further ten years. In 1985, when the zoo closed its bear enclosure, Mappin Terraces, they were sent to Dudley Zoo and later to Chorzow in Poland, where Pipaluk died aged 22. Nowadays there are European brown bears roaming ZSL Whipsnade, but the nearest polar bears to London are 160 miles away at Yorkshire Wildlife Park. If you don’t fancy the drive, check out the Pipaluk badges, soft toys and storybooks on eBay. Despite his name, this ‘little one’ was a pretty big deal. Love London? Sign up here to get Time Out tips in your inbox every week.
Meet one of London’s few female black cab drivers
Of London’s 24,000 cabbies, only 2 percent are women. Karen Spates is one of them. So what’s life like as a female cabbie? ‘As a child growing up in London, I was fascinated by the stories of black cab drivers and the prospect of learning The Knowledge and finding all the little London streets. I always wanted to become a cabbie, but my parents frowned upon it. So when I grew up, I went into the City instead, where I worked in insurance for seven years. It was only being made redundant from that job that led me to the career I had really wanted all along. In 2000, I took a job as a driving instructor to help finance my studying for The Knowledge. The average time it takes to study and pass the test is two to four years. It took me even longer than that, because I was supporting my studying by working, but I finally passed in 2012. On my presentation day, I was the only woman out of a group of 40 men. My name was even called out as “Mr…”. I only know four other female cab drivers and I keep in touch with them, but none of them work nights – I’m one of very few in London who do. Most men will call me “mate” when they’re giving an address – they just assume I’m going to be a man. Some say I shouldn’t be working nights as a woman, and one man even gave me £160 to promise to go home. Working nights has a darker side. Lots of men have offered to “get in the back” with me and show me a good time because they can’t pay. I laugh it off as best I can: at least they can’t get me at the
Most Googled: how old is London?
London clearly has a few centuries under its belt, but like the age-defying auntie who keeps fiddling the birthday candles, it’s difficult to say exactly how old the capital is. No wonder it was one of Londoners’ most searched questions in 2017, according to Google. We know that London began with the Romans, who invaded Blighty in AD 43, landing in Kent. This bit of the Thames was handy: sea-going ships had a quick link to the Continent and the river was narrow enough here to cross. According to Jackie Keily, senior curator at the Museum of London, ‘Londinium’ was founded in around AD 48 or 49 on the river’s north bank. Timber waterfronts and the first permanent London Bridge were being built by the early AD 50s, and the first surviving written reference to London dates from around AD 65. So our city is something like 1,969 years old. Try fitting all those candles on a Colin the Caterpillar. Love London? Sign up here to get Time Out tips in your inbox every week.
There’s a two-day tube strike planned next week
Just in time for Halloween, here’s an announcement to strike fear into any commuter’s heart: there’s a transport storm a-brewing. From next Wednesday to Thursday, a tube strike is planned across the Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines. Two overlapping 24-hour walkouts are being staged by workers from the Aslef and RMT unions over ongoing disputes about employment practices. Unless it’s called off, you can expect zero service on the Central and Waterloo & City lines all day on Wednesday 7 November, and on the Piccadilly line from 1.30pm onwards. On the morning of Thursday 8 November there will also be no service on the Piccadilly line. All other lines will be running as normal and TfL is putting on more than 200 extra buses to take the strain of the strike, so it might not be enough to warrant working from home – but you can bank on a knock-on effect on most other Underground lines. Research your journey in advance and prepare for some serious commuter camaraderie. See you in the scrum! Keep an eye on @TfLTravelAlerts for up-to-date information – and sign up here to get the latest from London straight to your inbox.
Ben and Jerry’s is handing out free ice cream in Mile End tomorrow
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Especially when it’s free and for a good cause. Socially switched-on dairy dons Ben & Jerry’s are touring the UK in partnership with Refugee Action to spread the word about asylum seekers’ right to work, with a final stop at the Student Union at Queen Mary University of London tomorrow. The inside, erm, scoop, according to Refugee Action, is that current government policy makes it nearly impossible for people to work while waiting for their refugee status, which can take up to six months. The charity says it’s a huge obstacle for people who come to this country wanting to rebuild their lives. You can support the ‘Waiting Isn’t Working’ campaign by signing the petition – and of course by heading to the Mile End campus on Thursday to get a free FairTrade flavour, as well as a hot choc made with the company’s chocolate fudge brownie ice cream. It’s a pretty jammy trade-off: have your say in how the government develops its new Immigration Bill and get a free sundae… on a Thursday. Find the ice-cream van at Queen Mary University of London Student Union between 11am-4pm tomorrow. Love London? Sign up here to get Time Out tips in your inbox every week.
London’s coolest new shopping district opens this week
Since the Granary Square development emerged from its chrysalis six years ago, post-industrial King’s Cross has taken on new life. This Friday the area gets even fancier, as Coal Drops Yard shakes off the construction cocoon. Once a coal depot before becoming a glass warehouse and a rave venue, the Victorian buildings have been resculpted by local architect-designers Heatherwick Studio into a zippy shopping district. The first wave of shops and restaurants read like a ‘Now That’s What I Call Trendy’ 2018 tracklist, with retail names Cos, Cubitts, Aesop and Tom Dixon joining alternative lingerie brand Beija, LA concept store Twiin and men’s outfitters Universal Works. Food-wise, Barrafina and El Pastor spin-off Casa Pastor are there, with libations from vermouth specialist Vermuteria and new wine bar The Drop. Destination dining and a dreamy spot to deplete our savings? You can drop us anywhere here, please. Love London? Sign up here to get Time Out tips in your inbox every week.
What’s your favourite Czech place in London?
Since the Prague Spring of 1968, there’s been a steady climb in the number of Czechs in London, although many of Czechoslovakia’s Jewish population had already arrived here fleeing Nazi Germany in the ’30s. EU freedom of movement has increased the number of Czechs here further, with the most expats living (according to the 2011 census) in Barnet, especially Golders Green, Finchley Road and Highgate. There’s even a Czech pelican in St James’s Park: Vaclav, born in Prague Zoo. And there’s plenty of Czech culture to celebrate in our city. So tell us: what’s your favourite Czech place in London? Let us know about the deli bursting with rohlíky rolls and knedlíky dumplings, your favourite restaurant serving up heartwarming Czech classics or that corner bar hosting Bohemian folk nights. Give us your hitlist in the comments box below, and we’ll include the best suggestions in Time Out London magazine.Finished? Then check out our guide to the best of Polish London.
‘I’m an advocate for authenticity’: meet London’s pioneering transgender Muslim drag queen
Since becoming famous as Britain’s first out Muslim drag queen, Asifa Lahore has been speaking out on LGBT+ rights and her Islamic faith… ‘Although I spent some of my childhood in Pakistan, I mostly grew up in Southall, surrounded by gorgeous sari houses and garment markets. I was between the two countries and cultures, but couldn’t pinpoint what made me different. As a teenager I realised I loved being around my young male relatives, because I was attracted to them. While studying at Queen Mary University of London, I told my parents I’d met a guy I loved, but they didn’t understand – we don’t have the word “gay” in Urdu or Punjabi. When they took me to the GP, the Asian doctor stuck up for me and said, “This is who he is and you’ll have to accept it.” After coming out to my parents and entering into a civil partnership with my husband, I saw an advert for Drag Idol UK and decided to enter. I went on stage in a burqa and reached the national finals. It felt amazing because I wasn’t conforming to the example of drag artists who had come before me. That competition – and the title of “Britain’s first out Muslim drag queen” – allowed me to start my career, do documentaries and be vocal about British intersectionality. I’ve had drag gigs turned down because I’m “too political”, and I still get abuse from the LGBT+ community for bringing my religion into it. On the other side of things, many say my drag career and sexuality goes against Islam, even though I follow the five pilla