Local Businesses we Love
There is no better comfort than returning to your local. A great neighbourhood spot can be just as good (even better) than a swanky restaurant or cocktail bar, and it’s because it is a place that has had time to grow familiar. A place whose unique quirks, friendly staff, and unpretentious atmosphere — makes this specific London spot feel a little bit more like home.
Because we love to champion the independents, we’ve rounded up our favourite local businesses across London. The friendly neighbourhood spots that have caught our eye, and more importantly the Less Ordinary people behind them.
Located in quirky Well Street and just a hop skip away from Victoria Park, this new Hackney Café is definitely pushing the boat on the definition of hybrid spaces. Still Life is part curiosity shop, part museum, and part café; and if that wasn’t enough — have a gander at the full-mounted emu skeleton or the wild boar that seems to make its way around this truly unique East London spot.
Still Life takes the ‘cabinet of curiosities’ concept and creates a truly lovely neighbourhood café. If not purchasing a giant Megalodon tooth, then you can also enjoy a cup of Dark Arts Coffee (another local producer) amidst botanicals, dinosaur bones, and ceramics formerly at the V&A.
Named by Eater as one of London’s best bakeries, and one of our own favourite spots to cure a hangover, Popham’s Bakery is a neighbourhood bakery that certainly not half baked. Its Maple Bacon Croissant is all any carb-loving brunch enthusiast can talk about, and was even rhapsodised by ES Magazine. This all comes as no surprise, because when you hear Popham’s story, it becomes clear that every little thing in this beautiful neighbourhood bakery has been made with love. Inspired by founder Ollie’s travels, with breads baked by Florin, woodwork by Freddie, beautiful content by Lucy, and perfect coffees by Antonio - all make Popham’s Bakery the very definition of a Less ordinary neighbourhood spot.
We love local success stories and gentleman baristas are exactly that. Created around the concept of ‘well-mannered coffee’.They say, ‘Manners maketh the man’, and Gentleman Baristas are all about reviving the well-mannered art of coffee drinking, and making. Their coffee shop is a testament to this ethos. A melting pot of people from different walks of life, sharing convivial chats on anything under the sun. Downstairs is the best spot for after work drinks, sprinkled with a selection of charcuterie, while upstairs first floor of the coffee house is a 23 cover larder. The coffee school offers informal coffee classes for aspiring baristas too, sharing the knowledge of how to get the best out of your beans.
Home to the world’s smallest Irish pub, Homeboy definitely serves up some Less Ordinary credentials. Outside it may seem like your average Islington bar, but inside, Homeboy is anything but average.
Everything about Homeboy exudes warm and laid-back Irish hospitality; a mix of home comforts, and delicious whiskey drinks — with an emphasis on local Irish products. Aaron Wall, 1/2 of the Homeboy duo, greet us at our table and even give us a tour of the world’s smallest Irish pub, which is kind of like a speakeasy hidden beneath a false wall in the back of the space. Inside, he shows us the ‘snug’ which according to him, is prime real estate in any authentic Irish pub. The kind wherein you need to schmooze the bartender for some service, and one wherein you need to reserve a spot during the early hours of the morning. To us, however, Homeboy itself, is the real gem — a truly Irish local in the heart of Islington.
Words by Hannah Tan-Gillies