You might have to walk up a bit of a hill, but Kensal Rise is worth it.
Why go there?
Because Notting Hill feels more like Notting Hell, but you’re not ready to move out east just yet.
What’s the vibe?
A dash of Queen’s Park yummy mumminess, a soupçon of Notting Hill’s nightlife and a big dollop of people who work at the BBC.
Quite a concoction, then. So what’s on the menu?
You aren’t exactly spoilt for choice, but what’s here is pretty damn good. There’s pasta and gnocchi at the perfectly romantic Ida on Fifth Avenue; big gooey sourdough pizzas at Sacro Cuore on Chamberlayne Road; or tongue-tingling jerk from Island on the Rise by the station. Top-notch coffee is to be had at Cable Coffee Co or you can try to squeeze past the prams at Minkies, both on Chamberlayne Road. And for one of the absolute best breakfasts in London, you’ll want Parlour on Regent Street. Home-smoked salmon and a limitless toast bar make it the perfect hangover basher.
The Chamberlayne Pub is big, woody, open late and always busy, while just two doors down, The Shop serves up all sorts of cocktails, always in jars. If you venture a bit further into the rise, you’ll find The Island on College Road, which is full of friendly gastropub vibes and plenty of locals. Or visit Borough Wines and get your booze on at home.
And if I want to boogie till dawn?
Paradise by Way of Kensal Green on Kilburn Lane is a shady haven for night owls. A standard gastropub by day, once the plates are whooshed away you can expect to shake your tail feather to the hits well into the wee small hours.
After all that booze I think I need some sobering retail therapy.
Then get some new creps and streetwise threads at Supra, or cheer yourself up with flowers from the awesome Scarlet & Violet (both Chamberlayne Road). On the same street, head to Brooks Butchers, which has a cracking selection of organic meat and veg, while its fishmongers next door should keep your Omega 3 topped up.
And if I only do one thing?
Catch a flick at the small but perfect Lexi Cinema further up Chamberlayne Road. An independent picturehouse with a conscience, it gives all its profits to charity. Cosy and comfy: what more could you want from a cinema? Oh, its programming is great, too.
By Eddy Frankel, who once saw Thurston Moore at the butchers and now actually quite likes Kensal Rise.
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