Kentish town area guide: restaurants, pubs, bars and city farm
PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 April 2017
Your guide to things to do in Kentish Town, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in NW5
Welcome to Kentish Town
New shops, bars and restaurants are opening in Kentish Town almost every day but, alarmed by recent price hikes, current residents won’t thank us for pointing that out. Kentish Town as it exists today has its roots in the spread of industry in the 19th century, and much of the land was bought to build the railway. Karl Marx lived on Grafton Road in the area at around this time. During the 19th and early 20th centuries the area was also a hub for famous piano and organ manufacturers.
There’s a well-managed balancing act on Kentish Town Road between old and new, with some much-loved relics of the old days remaining more or less untouched (although Blustons is closing down...again). Harry’s Fine Food is a fishmonger and butcher which has been operating on Kentish Town Road since 2000 and although Clapton Craft may have started out in Hackney, it fits in just fine in the ‘new’ Kentish Town selling craft beer bottles and refills from more than 300 local and international breweries.
Best for fashion…Jessica de Lotz and her handmade jewellery are found on Fortess Road next door to SK Vintage.
Best for bibliophiles…The Owl Bookshop has been operating for 20 years and has kept its name and shop front, despite having been taken over by the Daunt Books chain.
Best for a browse…Queen’s Crescent Market is one of London’s oldest markets, boasting the stall that would become Sainsbury’s in its early years. Many of the stalls have been passed down through the generations but these have also been joined by a smattering of artisan bread, trendy coffee and street food.
Best for sportswear…Ace Sports, another longstanding independent outlet, sells sporting equipment on Fortess Road.
Best for specialities… Other food shopping offerings include Earth Natural Foods, specialising in organic, vegan and gluten free products, and Phoenicia Mediterranean Food Hall, selling groceries from Italy, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece, both on Kentish Town Road.
Goldschmidt & Howland tip... The Owl Bookshop is a hidden gem, a charming independent store that’s been going since 1974.
Restaurants, bars and pubs
New eateries and refurbished watering holes are appearing in Kentish Town almost daily but locals love old favourites while embracing the best new arrivals. Natural is a new food store at 138 Kentish Town Road serving coffee, gluten free goods and wine as well as a salad bar.
Best for Italian… Rossella is a well-loved local pitstop serving hearty Italian fare in a family friendly setting at bargain prices while tucked away on Kelly Street Mario’s Café is a north London legend, immortalised in a 1993 Saint Etienne song and two decades later by a documentary film.
Best for a beverage… Traditional boozers include award-winning The Grafton, their sister pub The Gypsy Queen and The Pineapple, a Kentish Town institution. The Bull and Gate was until recently a Victorian pub with gigs in the back room but has been renovated and now contains a cocktail bar, dining room and regular pub area, with excellent cocktails.
Best for oenophiles…Celebrating its anniversary is Patron, a wine bar with a heavily Gallic flavour – tasting plates include Camembert fondu, steak tartare and frogs legs – opened by the Franglais duo behind the now closed Café Gourmand in Soho.
Best for pub grub…Tuck into a £10 steak and a pint at Beef + Brew – no prizes for guessing their specialities.
Best for a brew…The area around Kentish Town West station boasts hipster café The Fields Beneath and Camden Town Brewery bar under railway the arches and Map Studio Café throws live music into the mix.
Things to do
Best for active types… Kentish Town Sports Centre is located in the recently renovated Kentish Town Baths. Locals can now swim beneath a glazed gothic roof, which had been covered since the 1960s. Talacre Gardens also has outdoor floodlit pitches and a sports centre with tennis courts, trampolines and a sports hall.
Best for musicians… Nearer the tube live music fans flock to The Forum, a historic gig venue which was originally an art deco cinema and has hosted everyone from Nina Simone to The Pixies.
Best for art lovers… head to the Zabludowicz Collection which has an acclaimed programme of free contemporary art exhibitions alongside occasional film screenings.
Goldschmidt & Howland tip... Visit the Parliament Hill Lido, a Grade II listed outdoor swimming pool open all year round.
Things to do with children
Kids and adults alike love Kentish Town City Farm, with its farm animals, community gardens, allotments and wildlife pond. There is even a pony club and the farm offers weekly beginners’ riding lessons.
Best for crafty kids…Mary’s Family Factory is les macabre than it sounds. Not a designer baby clinic but a pottery painting arts and crafts studio.
Best for busy bodies…Talacre Open Space Play Area is also great for outdoor fun with swings, slides, a climbing frame and sports area.
Primary and secondary schools
Holy Trinity and Saint Silas CofE Primary School and Torriano Junior School are both small mixed gender schools that received ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted ratings. Camden School for Girls is Outstanding, and sees many transfers from nearby independent schools to its liberal sixth form. As you’d expected, places are hotly contested. The Bridge School provides specialist education for children with special needs. The College Francais Bilingue De Londres offers education following the French school syllabus at both primary and secondary level.
Kentish Town is situated in zone 2 on the London Underground and Kentish Town Underground station is served by the Northern line, High Barnet branch. The area is also served by the London Overground from Kentish Town West station. There is a good bus network connecting the area with north, central and east London.
Goldschmidt & Howland tip... People are attracted to the area because of good local schooling, excellent transport links, a superb range of amenities and proximity to Hampstead Heath, all just four miles from Central London.
The appetite for property in Kentish Town has been growing steadily for the past few years, with prices pushing ever upwards, much to the concern of locals. Housing stock is a mix of large Victorian and Edwardian houses, and 20th-century local authority housing. Terraces of small workers’ cottages and colourful mews houses complete the picture of an area formed by Victorian industrialisation and transport.
Goldschmidt & Howland tip... The eclectic mix of architecture on the streets off Highgate Road includes Victorian family homes, warehouse conversions and newly built developments, all within walking distance of Parliament Hill Fields
Kentish Town is in the London Borough of Camden and has the NW5 postcode. It is in the Holborn & St Pancras parliamentary constituency. Properties in Band A will pay £944.97 in council tax; those in the average Band D will receive a bill for £1,417.46; and the most expensive homes in Band H will pay £2,834.92.
Semi detached £1,721,143
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