Our fashion team don’t serve low-key looks at KOIBIRD, but they do have a few low-key London hotspots up their sparkly sleeves. Here, they share their top 10 from the newest cult wine bars and karaoke hubs to 19th century hidden mazes.
The best spots you don’t know about
Words by KOIBIRD fashion team
Wine lovers sip and take note (get it?!). Hector’s is the new kid on the wine-bar and bottleshop block (and cult new favourite of our fashion director), providing a substantial wine list 300-strong with high quality to match. Inspired by the cave à mangers of Paris, husband and wife duo Jimmy Stephenson (who has been in hospitality for over a decade) and Anna Shaffer have brought the magic of underground wine adoring Paris to De Beauvoir. Intimate and cosy (with delicious food and nibbles to match), this is the place to impress your friends and partner - or simply keep it all for yourself. We won’t judge you.
Hosted by some of London’s most infamous drag queens, Karaoke Hole is a must for those who enjoy letting their inner divas reign supreme. Sing, dance on tables - have abuse hurled at you by your drag queen compère. What happens in the hole, stays in the hole.
Why go to a museum during the day when you can have a tour by candlelight accompanied by a glass of wine? Sign us up. The fascinating home of architect Sir John Soane is stuffed to the brim with oddities, antiquities and artworks from his travels which have all been preserved and kept since his death in 1837. “A unique treasure trove of intriguing curiosities,” according to our fashion assistant.
Good Friend chicken
Do not be put off by the thought of fried chicken for dinner, or the fact that on the outset this place looks like your bang below average chicken shop. This spot is worth the queue that lines up day in, day out. Impossibly crispy and tender, they serve up a delicious range of chicken from classic fillets, to tenders, ‘volcanic chicken’ (oozing with cheese) and popcorn chicken. However, the real joy is the seasonings (of which they have 10), top of our list is the sweet plum powder and seaweed, you’ll also find flavourings such as curry and ‘mouth numbing spice’.
When thinking of the snoozy suburb of Ealing you might find it hard to imagine that it actually harbours some of London’s finest Japanese establishments. Quiet and upretentious, Ta Ke serves sushi with a delightful twist, self described as both “contemporary and traditional”, freshly prepared dishes are outrageously named ‘the Sexy Lady’ and ‘London Bridge’- do not be put off by this. A must try is their pork stock ‘Volcano’ Ramen; volcanic by name, volcanic by nature, this ramen is just what we crave for an invigorating kick during these cold winter months.
A hidden gem in an unsuspecting part of West London, The Riverside studios is a low-key but well-connected cultural hive of activity. Pop in for coffee whilst enjoying a sunny Sunday stroll, or catch a hot ticket to Downton Abbey’s Elizabeth McGovern’s show ‘Ava: The Secret Conversations’. Also connected to the studios is the atmospheric Sam’s Riverside restaurant- sit at the bar and enjoy the Parmesan churros whilst guzzling a glass of Gusbourne or settle down for a Pre-Theatre menu. As if this isn’t enough, the studios also have a cinema on site where they serve home-made popcorn. We might never leave!
Few things in life are better than fresh, hand-rolled pasta. Even better, is pasta served within the cosy confines of a renovated cute corner shop. Created by husband-and-wife team Simonetta and Avi Ida offers the ultimate balance of romantic setting with mouth watering dishes. For those who like their meat, a must have is the Tagliatelle al ragù marchigiano. A traditional dish from the March region featuring slow-cooked beef, pork and chicken ragoût. The holy pasta trinity!
Crystal Palace Park
Where: Crystal Palace
Parks are pleasant by nature, but a park with gigantic dinosaurs and a maze, well, that’s powerful. The network of hedgerows dates from around 1970 and will have you twisting and turning - not always in the right direction. Crystal Palace is a lovely area for a post-park wander, too.
Supposedly, Festok are the only producer of Lebanese ice cream in London. Hailed for its wonderfully light texture, you’ll find Lebanese flavours such as Achta, Pistachio and Rose, as well as bespoke creations such as Osmalieh, Halva, Date and Turmeric. Go there at your own peril - this ice cream is devilishly addictive. (Plus, it now delivers across London, joy!).
A labyrinth of tunnels charting time from the druids through to the age of popular music, Chislehurst Caves are well worth a visit. Revealing too much about them would ruin the tour itself but, if you’re a history buff, there’s no place better – even if it is all the way in Zone 5.