My West Hampstead: Wet Fish Cafe owner reveals love for an area ‘on a tipping point’

Andre Millodot owner of Wet Fish Cafe

Andre Millodot owner of Wet Fish Cafe - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Andre Millodot, 47, has lived in West End Lane, overlooking West End Green, for nearly 20 years. He opened The Wet Fish Cafe after careers as an engineer and in TV production, to find something that made his heart beat and to indulge his passions for food, music and design.

When did you first come to West Hampstead and what made you move there?

I’d just moved back to the UK, reluctantly, after five years in Paris, so wanted to find a little bit of what I’d miss. I came to study at London Business School so narrowed it down to north west London. After scanning St John’s Wood and Maida Vale I felt hugely relieved to discover West Hampstead. It was slightly boho, I could live above a row of shops and there were a couple of local cafes I felt I could hang out in.

How have you seen the area change over the years, for better and worse?

For the better part of 20 years it was a case of “plus ca change…” but suddenly these last couple of years the area seems to be on a tipping point. It’s finally growing into its potential. It used to be a culinary desert. Now it’s a great destination for an evening out.

What’s your most memorable or favourite moment while working at The Wet Fish Cafe?

Tough question, so many memories, much of it a big blur, quite a roller coaster. Exciting but also humbling. Maybe our 10th anniversary event, we filled a big church with 1,000 candles, 70 diners, four courses and two live music interludes… and pulled it off.

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What is West Hampstead’s best kept secret?

Little gems like Cocoa Bijoux, West End Lane Books, Bake-a-Boo. There’s the gym that used to be the old ticket office for the trains that no one knows is there, it’s amazing inside. Not so secret are JW3 and the farmer’s market, they’ve transformed the area. I love a pint in the Lion. And a shameless plug – monthly live music dinners at The Wet Fish – they’re special.

What makes you smile when you go to work?

A big motivation for opening The Wet Fish was the love of a good cup. The lure of a flat white with one-and-a-half shots and velvety milk, that gets me up in the morning. I ponder and listen to music before the team arrives. Other than that, in the middle of a live music night, if the magic is happening, big smile.

If you were guest editor of the Ham&High, what one local issue would you most like to see reported?

Heavy daytime traffic in West Hampstead is a weakness but we could turn it into a strength by letting people park, spend, and boost the local economy. I’d like to see one or two pieces of street art that (highlight) the area’s unique identity, and a tree lit up on West End Green.

If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say?

Finally I might relax. Well, as long as the food’s good.