NFT London Angel / Upper St

Angel / Upper St

A purpose-built playground for a twenty-somethings crowd that has to wake up for work in the morning. Whether it's the boutique shops, bars and restaurants that cater to any and all taste preoccupying Upper Street, the antique shops along Camden Passage, or an eclectic and vivid live music and theatre scene (Head to the Kings Head Pub for both), Angel has it all, and much more.




         



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow

Brown Bear Coffee & Home
Twas the Saturday before Christmas and Islington was aflurry with shoppers when all my friend and I wanted was a decent coffee. An amble down Cross Street delivered. Brown Bear Coffee and Home is slightly hidden being set back from the pavement but make your way in for Coleman coffee beans, smoothies, juices, and sandwiches. We sat at the bar in the shop window people-watching as a wedding party sallied on by but there's a cosy basement lounge too. My buddy had a deliciously flaky almond croissant and Americano while I opted for the Flat White. The Brown Bear of the name is in fact a wee dog called Charlie who co-owns the café with Daniel Pearson, and the bowl of water and paper bag of doggie treats at the door was a sign of this canine's touch. But here's the thing--as much as I adored the place for its quietness, this place needs more customers. I'm really hoping it's busy during the week with commuters, mums, and freelancers but I've yet to check it out. Because unpretentious, warm cafes like this are hard to find. My wish for 2015? More support for local businesses. And keep it coming!



Posted By:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow

Kimantra Urban Spa
Help! I need a wax at short notice and the place I usually go is closed on a Monday--am I going to be forced to go into central London to get a Brazilian and pay between £30 and £40 for the privilege? Luckily Google throws up Kimantra Urban Spa pretty quick and they charge £23 for the required treatment. Tucked away in Islington's Camden Passage I find this little retreat and on a whim book a back and shoulder massage as well to compensate myself for the pain I'm about to willingly put myself through. Kerry, who does my wax, is a total pro--she knows her stuff and is determined to get me neat and tidy with minimum fuss advising me to hold and stretch as she waxes and explaining hair growth patterns to distract me. This lady's zeal to do the best job she can puts me at complete ease. Samantha is the masseuse and within seconds she's working through the knots in my back. When the dustbin men outside empty a skip of bottles into the truck she almost puts her hands over my ears in horror but I'm so relaxed nothing could stir me.



Posted By:  Michael Kasparis
Photo:  Michael Kasparis

Slimelight
A solitary golden hair spirals downward amidst the dry ice. Thrashing manes collide beneath it. The stench of manly sweat, leather, and old beer is everywhere. Believe it or not we're in the heart of Islington, in its premier extreme metal and goth club Slimelight. Unlike the chi chi neighbourhood it lives in, the interior of Slimelight is authentically industrial. Steel, dirt and smoke frame every piercing and tattoo. And unlike The Underworld in Camden, there's no real crossover appeal here. Anyone not leathered up is nudged out of the bar, bumped out the way, looked at critically. While my duffel coat may have feared for its life down the front, it's hard not to revel in the feeling at being an outsider amongst outsiders. No sleep 'til Ottolenghi!



Posted By:  Michael Kasparis
Photo:  Michael Kasparis

The Compton Arms
Crouched, cowering from the onset of modernity, The Compton Arms is Islington's last stand for Ye Olde Pube (that's public house, not the pube that gets stuck in one's teeth.) It's a proud little place, with its garish yellow walls standing out amidst the tasteful off-whites of the luxury housing surrounding it. To find it you have to navigate umpteen wine bars and central heated prams but once there you'll never leave. The regulars certainly look like they've never left, that's for sure. Within you'll find the grizzled ale champions usually found north of the M25, low woodwormed beams and a warm beery welcome. The place has obviously never changed since famed regular George Orwell supped here, with the possible exception of the (seldom used) widescreen TV and the (often used) coin operated Minstrels dispenser. I can't vouch for the food, which is clearly as traditional as everything else here, but the place is a perfect destination after a gig at the Union Chapel.



Posted By:  Anne Seymour
Photo:  Anne Seymour

Cass Art
I'd always been put off by Cass Art. "Let's Fill This Town With Artists!" it hyperactively gushes, which is all very well, but we're amid a credit crunch and a population of scroungey batik-wearing artists isn't going to save the day. But when I needed coloured paper and found my local Woolworths replaced by a squat, Cass seemed my only option. And oh! I challenge you to step foot inside this wonder-den of creativity and not walk out a full convert to Cass’s cheerful army of artists. It caters to almost any artistic bent, so whether you're looking for paint, paper, equipment or simply inspiration, it's ALL HERE! And it's available to you by people who use all the stock enthusiastically and with talent and can help you to do so too. With a fourth store recently opened to become its flagship branch, hopefully Cass will survive the credit crunch as we all have to start turning our loo rolls into shirts to survive it ourselves.



Posted By:  Julia Dennison
Photo:  Julia Dennison

Tortilla
Finally! Decent burritos on this side of the Atlantic. Yes, there are some fantastic gourmet Mexican restaurants in Londres (particularly in the vicinity of Westbourne Grove) but it's about freakin' time there was a place you could get plain ol' burritos: We're talking slurpy, greasy, aluminium-foil wrapped things that ooze beans, cheese and guacamole as you walk up the street. Tortilla has been around for a while, but I don't think there's been enough singing of praises, particularly when a certain burrito competitor up the road (ahem, Mucho Mas) has just not been cutting it lately. The beauty of it is that for a fiver, you get yourself a burrito and drink that will leave you pretty much stuffed. I go for the pork without the rice (who puts rice in a burrito?) and lots and lots of hot sauce. Yums all around!




Posted By:  Julia Dennison
Photo:  Julia Dennison

The Breakfast Club
It's hard to disentangle the name of this Islington diner--almost too quirky for its own good--from the John Hughes classic, but I'll try to enlighten you all on this hot spot without Emilio Estevez popping into my head. Basically, if you like your pancakes with bacon on top and smothered with maple syrup, you'll be a happy camper here. Everything about it is almost American: crispy-ish bacon, milkshake-esque smoothies, sunny-side-up eggs and breakfast at any hour, which, quite frankly should be a more common occurrence in London than it actually is. My only qualm, as an across-the-ponder myself, is the noticeable lack of free refills on coffee. Well, that and the impertinent wait staff. But, hey, they give out free badges with the bill, so who am I to quibble?




Posted By:  Michael Kasparis
Photo:  Michael Kasparis

Afghan Kitchen
"We've waited for half an hour in the cold for microwaved food and it's not even hot. I'm sorry, but that's enough, we're leaving." These are the first words we hear as we enter the cramped Afghan Kitchen. Two disgruntled people brush past us, a-fluster and righteous, and we take the place they've just vacated. It's Saturday night, in Islington, and we're grateful for the seat and promise of food, microwaved or not. Huddled in close quarters with six other diners around a table, we wait the customary 30 minutes and are eventually served our microwaved curry. I can only guess that people come here (and they come here in bulk) for the novelty of having Afghan food, or at least the idea of having Afghan food. When it does arrive the yogurt chicken is actually pleasing, in a creamy, fruity way, and the thick bread is oily and filling. We're distracted by eating, but once the food settles we realise we're still sitting in the path of the continually opening door and within flu-contracting distance of a fellow freezing diner. The bill, for three people, would easily buy them another microwave to speed up the service.




Posted By:  Julia Dennison
Photo:  Julia Dennison

Fredericks
If you've got clients, and you're feeling a little swanky, this Euro-flash bistro is where it's at in Angel. Nicely tucked away up Camden's Passage (ahem, ahem), this is a restaurant that boasts mouth-wateringly gourmet Francophile cuisine, like Chateaubriand steak that leaves you dribbling like a baby (make sure you order it rare). The light and airy salon atmosphere (as in the French arty ones, not the curlers and hairspray kind) is a peaceful retreat that is well-received after the hustle and bustle of Upper Stret. Just make sure you request a table in what can only be described as the random tropical gardens out the back--heated lamps make this a pleasant experience.



Posted By:  Trevor Baker
Photo:  Trevor Baker

O2 Academy
It used to be that if you felt a bit down you had a choice of going out 'clubbing' to cheer yourself up, or staying in for a good wallow in misery with The Smiths, Joy Division and The Cure. Thankfully, since the establishment of Saturday night's regular Feeling Gloomy club at the Islington Academy you don't have to choose. The clubbing equivalent of one of those Morrissey songs where he takes the piss out of himself for being such a miserable bastard it has one unique selling point: many of the best songs ever written have really, really depressing lyrics. The Academy is an odd venue for the club, stuck in a shopping mall with all the louche rock 'n roll spirit of a Ford Focus but Feeling Gloomy proves that, as another gloomy twat once sang, there really is a comfort in being sad.




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Restaurants (27)
Nightlife (21)
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