There are a lot of very good things to consume in London, and Jassy Davis is doing a mighty fine job of tracking them down and then telling us about it on her blog, Gin and Crumpets. Even foodies need their down time, though, and we asked Jassy to let us know which five places in London she most likes to hang out. We would suggest that you don’t visit the Hunterian Museum around mealtimes, though. Some of the stuff in there could really turn a stomach.
A quiet patch of Gothic beauty tucked away in London’s most suburban neighbourhood, Nunhead Cemetery has one of the best views in London. It involves a sedate climb up a hill, but once you get to the top there’s a bench to rest on and someone has cut a gap into the trees, framing St Paul’s as it lords it over the rooftops of south London. It’s a sight that makes me glad to be a Londoner.
The Rivoli Ballroom
Hunkered down opposite Crofton Park train station, The Rivoli doesn’t look very promising. But once you get past the dismal provincial cinema exterior and pub carpet lobby, there is an astounding ballroom, complete with plush velvet seating and dusty Chinese paper lanterns. If I could hug a room, I’d give the booth-lined, wrought iron-trimmed bar a cuddle it wouldn’t forget. The monthly gay/straight ballroom dancing night Jacky’s Jukebox is brilliant, especially if, like me, you’re often going in the wrong direction to entirely the wrong beat.
Garden Museum Café
Shamefully, I’ve never actually been round the Garden Museum. Instead, I march past the exhibits gathered in the dusty gloom of St Mary’s, wave to the nice ladies on reception, and head straight to the café. The vegetarian lunch menu uses ingredients from the kitchen garden and, when the sun’s out, the knot garden makes Lambeth Palace Road a surprisingly pretty place to eat.
The Gazzano’s, 167–169 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3AL
My favourite deli in London. I’ve never bought anything from them I didn’t love and wish I’d bought double of. If you want to know where to start, fill your basket with cooked ham, mortadella, marinated anchovies, country bread, Genovese sausages and pumpkin-filled ravioli. It’ll make a slightly weird dinner, but what a dinner.
The Hunterian Museum and Archives
Not a museum for the squeamish. The Hunterian houses the extraordinary collection of 18th century surgeon John Hunter in floor to ceiling specimen jars. Faces floating in formaldehyde, teeth, skulls and skeletons by the stack and surgical instruments that induce a reflexive wince – it’s a fascinating tour of human anatomy and all the ways in which it can go wrong. My favourite exhibit is a pair of spectacles with a silver nose attached them that were donated by a woman whose own nose had rotted off due to syphilis. She gave it to Hunter after her new husband told her he preferred her without them. A story that must give hope to all the single Londoners out there.