Why Nobody Needs Starbucks
I walked into Gran Sasso, my local neighbourhood coffee shop on Caledonian Road at King’s Cross this morning, and was served my coffee like this; it’s my birthday. The staff also bought me breakfast (they do amazing Italian paninis with creamed eggs and sundried tomatoes). Meanwhile, there’s a run-down looking Starbucks nearby that has a sleepy queue of office drones in it – why wouldn’t they walk another 20 yards and get real Italian coffee served by real Italians? Am I missing something?
So, let’s talk about London loves and hates.
I’ll say one thing for this city; if you spend a full day and evening out in it, you can’t sit on the fence about how the time went. I’m all over town like a cheap suit most days and boy, there are things I love and hate about London;
LOVE The new wave of beardy pubs to go with the Shoreditch beardy look, from E8’s Hand of Glory boozer themed around ‘The Wicker Man’ to Clerkenwell’s The Slaughtered Lamb from ‘An American Werewolf In London’ and The Holborn Whippet in Sicilian Avenue.
HATE The deafening new tube and railway station announcements which treat you as if you were a very stupid child, with endless warnings, explanations and pointless, witless interjections (‘We are currently being held at a red light, I’ll update you in a moment when we move again’), all designed to wreck your reading habits.
LOVE New London nosh, with US regional food other than hot dogs finally getting attention (although it’s still all a bit beige), and new menu simplicity. From the Holborn Dining Room to The Jugged Hare it seems that well-cooked unpretentious food from short, well-sourced menus is in – and decent London beers are being given as much prominence as overrated French wine lists – about time!
HATE The impossibility of getting into fringe theatres which now consider themselves to be part of the West End, like the Almeida and the Donmar – we locals supported you through the lean years, dammit, and this is how you repay us? With ramped-up prices and prioritised memberships?
LOVE Indies and pop-ups – more please so that we can force high streets to stop filling up with tax-exempt ‘charity’ shops (killing the book trade) and insanely-overpriced estate agents. Let’s have music, media and comic shop revivals, and bring back swap shops!
HATE The new London housing cons – what’ll it be, ‘luxury loft living’ for deposed war criminals or dosh-raking student accommodation? Nothing for ordinary hardworking Londoners, then?
LOVE Gran Sasso, HATE Starbucks.
Feel free to add your loves and hates.