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Street food, dining in the dark, and a pub with a barbershop: it’s the best bits of Clerkenwell

Posted at 12:30 pm, May 9, 2015 in Arts & Entertainment, Food & Drink, Fun London
credit creative clerkenwell-flickr

Flickr: Creative Clerkenwell

Start-up central? Sure. But it’s food, booze and culture heaven too. 

Isn’t Clerkenwell just a load of trendy offices?

Well, kind of. It’s true that the area is filled with design studios, publishers, media companies and the like. But that means a hell of a lot of other stuff has opened here to keep the ‘creatives’ fed, watered and distracted.

I’m hungry. Point me in the right direction.

Sit down to a swish breakfast at The Modern Pantry (St John’s Square). Or if you fancy something on the go, head to glorious Exmouth Market which on weekdays is lined with stalls selling all manner of street food. Burritos, falafel, jollof rice…you name it, they’ve got it. Even Italian trattoria Paesan has joined in, running a mac ‘n’ cheese stall outside its premises.

London's best street food

And for a sit-down meal?

Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings (Northampton Road) has elegant furnishings and offers a great menu. For something a bit different, try the superbly silly Dans le Noir? (Clerkenwell Green) which provides its guests with a unique ‘sensory’ experience by serving its dishes in total darkness.

Now I need a drink.

The staff at the Crown Tavern are friendly, and there’s a European feel to the tables that spill out on to Clerkenwell Green. The Harlequin (Arlington Way) is intimate, with a little backyard for those balmier spring evenings. If hops aren’t your thing, Café Kick (Exmouth Market) does some mean cocktails that are less than a fiver each if you make it to happy hour (daily 4pm-7pm).

credit ewan munro-flickr
Photo: Ewan Munro

Anything to do apart from eating and drinking?

Head to contemporary art gallery Hollybush Gardens (Warner Yard) or you could catch a dance performance at Sadler’s Wells Theatre (Rosebery Avenue).

A 1623
Photo: Derek Kendall

Okay, time for some retail therapy.

Shopping options are chic and high-end in Clerkenwell. Magma (Clerkenwell Road) is the place to go for glossy periodicals and coffee-table books, while Flor Unikon is a lovely Scandi-style florist on Amwell Street. Just down the road, Present & Correct is a brilliant gem of a design shrine-cum-stationery supplier on Arlington Way.

And if I only do one thing?

Why do one thing when you can do three? At The Gunmakers (Eyre Street Hill) order something from its grilled cheese menu, choose from a selection of craft lagers and ales, then (gents) head upstairs and get your hair snipped at the Gun Club, which is open till late. Just remember to make any radical hairstyling decisions before hitting the booze.


By Matt Breen, who’s decided he would rather stick to eating dinner with the lights on.

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