We’re always delighted to add to our London knowledge – so when Juliet Kinsman, who is so into her neighbourhood she launched a blog about it, offered to show us around Kensal Rise, we got on the Overland faster than you can say ‘Westside’.
Juliet, travel journalist and scribe behind west London’s Park Life blog, has lived in Queen’s Park/Kensal since 1997. She loves her neighbourhood’s villagey yet multicultural feel: ‘It has all the perks of urban living, plus the community spirit of actually knowing your neighbours, both young and old. We even have a milkman (hello Ken!), and can’t go for a coffee without seeing friends we’ve known for years.
‘I often meet people who’ve lived around here all their lives and wouldn’t dream of moving, such as actor Tamsin Greig and writer Zadie Smith. There are cool boutiques for fashion and gifts, hip hang-outs for evenings out, but also old-fashioned corner shops – and people actually care about campaigns such as saving the local library.’ Here we present Juliet’s pick of the area’s fine shops, bars and restaurants.
Chamberlayne Road; (020 8969 2182, minkiesdeli.co.uk)
Very friendly, light-filled conversion of a public convenience right by the station, serving excellent coffee, sandwiches, antipasti and brekky. Juliet says: ‘The birth of Minkies marked a tidal change in Kensal Rise: we didn’t have a deli before, but now locals have this fun place to meet and get a great coffee. The bagels, cakes and pastries are fantastic, and the owner, Doron, is such a character – he really remembers customers. This place has that classic neighbourhood feelgood factor – you always see people you know there. One other thing: it’s ace for last-minute presents and treats such as panforte or gourmet chocolates.’
91 Chamberlayne Road; (020 8964 5678, www.brooksbutchers.com)
Truly enviable butchers, set up by Minkies man Doron, not just purveying natural English meat and game, their own bacon and sausages, and Clonakilty white pudding, but all sorts of fine comestibles, from fresh, quality fruit and veg, to premium pop from La Mortuacienne. ‘Again, we didn’t have a great butcher before,’ says Juliet. ‘This is a credible alternative to Lidgate in Holland Park or Ginger Pig. They sell really good cuts of meat, so all you have to do is cook it simply. Let’s say it’s a traditional butchery plus.’
75 Chamberlayne Road; (020 8969 9399, www.theshopnw10.com, @theshopnw10)
Not a shop but a rough-round-the-edges cocktail bar, with a hip-hop sensibility, jam jars for glasses, and drinks including Your Mum Rang, £7.50. ‘Their speakeasy shtick won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been to New York a few times,’ says Juliet. ‘But they play good music, the dive-like dimensions are pleasing and, in a world that’s often over-designed and over-priced, The Shop is neither. This is where all the art-school hipsters who haven’t left for Dalston hang out.’
45 Chamberlayne Road; (0208 960 8558, @sacrocuorepizza)
A new venture from the owners of Santa Maria Pizzeria in Ealing, this is an attractive, airy corner site replete with a wood-fired oven, a vast mural of Naples and a succinct menu of some dozen pizzas – ours is a salsiccia e friarielli (Neapolitan sausage and wild broccoli). Juliet says: ‘It’s great for an easy pizza supper, and stands up as an alternative to fantastic Pizza East in Portobello. The dough is the key: it’s soft inside, but crispy as hell from the scorching hot oven.’
Scarlet & Violet
76 Chamberlayne Road; (020 8969 9446, www.scarletandviolet.com)
The owner of this aesthetically gorgeous florist, Vic Brotherson (previously at Wild At Heart), chooses a natural style for her flowers and her premises, where she combines chic wedding work with local trade. ‘She was the first person to use herbs and fruit, and unexpected combinations, says Juliet. ‘It’s the essence of shabby chic. The antique style, the faded colours, the Provençal palette, that’s really Vic’s own taste. She is a true creative and has great integrity.’