Going out in London
As I was growing up there were six zones in London – concentric rings around the centre – the centre being the zone 1 kernel of the city and zone 6 being the suburbs. The interesting and less expensive stuff usually resided in zones 2 and 3, which were the areas that people could actually live in as well. London now has 9 zones.
Everyone knows it takes at least an hour to get from one part of London to another. As this is for help to survive in Frieze week I’m sure “I’m so busy!” will be the default and resounding introduction to every conversation, so I will mainly stick to zone 1 (that’s where Frieze Art Fair is).
English breakfast is a fry up, you get it from a cafe – note the lack of an accent here, this is because it is not a café, but pronounced “caff.” “The Regency” is apparently the longest running cafe in London, it is in an art deco building in Pimlico, its interior filled with plastic tables and chairs that are attached to the floor, photos of the famous people who have frequented it and Spurs memorabilia (Tottenham Hotspur Football team).
There are rules for this place – you don’t want to act like a tourist and not know these as the governor or governess may embarrass you.
You go up to the counter to order – you do not grab a seat and get your friend to go up and order, you can only find a seat after you have ordered. Make sure you know what you are going to have before you order, don’t stand around umming and ahhing at the till, if you aren’t sure just pick a set breakfast as these are the classics. Vegetarians: they don’t do fake meat so you get bubble ‘n’ squeak (mashed up then fried potatoes and cabbage) with beans, mushrooms and tomatoes or something (this is also a vegan safe choice). When you have ordered grab your own cutlery (to the left of the till) and then get a seat. You have to listen out for your food – one of the highlights of “The Regency” is that the bosses have incredible voices that boom, but still make sure you’re listening to what they are saying, you don’t want them to have to shout out your order 3-4 times once it’s ready. When you hear your order you go back to the counter and get it.
17-19 Regency St
London SW1P 4BY
I’m caffeine free now as I drank so much I gave myself a migraine for four days last September, but generally stimulants help in the art world and most states of being under late capitalism, and especially in post Olympic games/apocalypse London.
“Algerian Coffee Store” in Soho is amazing, it’s a shop where you buy tea leaves and coffee beans that are various and specific. It was established in 1887 and you can pick up a coffee to go (or to drink whilst standing in the shop) for £1 (espresso £1, cappuccino or latte £1.20). That’s extremely cheap for central London, and it is proper coffee.
Algerian Coffee Store
52 Old Compton St
London W1D 4PB
If you want to sit down with your coffee then go down the road to "Bar Italia," again another Soho staple. (It's been there for years. I think back to the 50’s at least when the word teenager was born and British youth took from continental Europe and America to forge their own early versions of mod and rock culture in the coffee bars and jazz lounges of Soho.) It’s also open late so you can soak up the free art alcohol with a coffee and overpriced (but good) paninis at 3am.
22 Frith St
London W1D 4RF
I’m vegetarian so I will recommend all vegetarian places. We eat too much meat in the west – it’s a fact.
I wanted to put this one down as it’s BYOB (bottle, not beamer, it’s not 2011). “Food for Thought” is in Covent Garden, it was established in 1972, but then I went on the site to get the address and saw it CLOSED this summer! This is really sad. It’s probably due to the ridiculous and vicious property situation in the city. I am hoping 2016 will bring us a rent strike.
“Govinda’s Pure Vegetarian Restarant” is a Hari Krishna restaurant, but they don’t try to Hari Krishna you when you go there. It’s just very good quick cheap Indian food, served canteen style, you queue up to the counter and it is plated up for you there and then. Thali is the best – a metal tray with lots of different small bits (a couple of curries, rice, bread, salad) served in small metal bowls on the tray.
10 Soho St
London W1D 3DL
It’s more likely you would go to “Mildreds” (rather than “Govinda’s”) with someone who is work related to you or with someone you were meeting in person for the first time. They have table service. Their menu consists of vegan as well as vegetarian choices and it’s décor is minimal yet ‘authentic,’ i.e. you won’t scare your date into thinking you’re a hippy.
45 Lexington St
London W1F 9AN
Going out in London before Cameron criminalized squatting and America bastardised dubstep was better – sorry.
There are still great nights – such as Endless, Body Hammer, any New Noveta fundraiser. But these aren’t weekly events and often happen in different locations each time. You won’t be short of parties over Frieze week, and I’m not going to recommend a club because none of them compare to "Plastic People" circa 2006/7. However, “Trisha’s” is a basement bar in central where you can go for late drinking if you want to escape a gross Frieze party. Also – look out for any Weatherspoons (it’s a chain) if you want a really cheap drink. Also, if you are reading this and we know each other, then email me – as Arcadia Missa and The Sunday Painter are having a gross Frieze party on October 14th
3dx, 57 Greek St
London W1D 3DX
PLACE TO RELAX
“Porchester Row Spa” is an old style Turkish baths, no dolphin music or special robes or whatever but really amazing steam and sauna and plunge pool in an old beautiful building.
What I like to do is do my own treatments (but you can buy treatments like massages there). My best own treatment is to bring a big bag of Himalayan salt and rose hip oil and lavender oil and mix all together to do a body salt scrub. There are areas next to the steam rooms with plastic garden chairs where you can do this.
Porchester Row Spa
London W2 5HS
LEAVING ZONE 1
I’m from Peckham so I recommend that if you leave zone 1 you go to South East London. There is an incredible Hungarian restaurant called “The Rosemary” in New Cross, pie 'n' mash in Peckham (“Manze’s”), also great South Indian in Peckham right next to the gallery (“Ganapati’s”, who do a lunchtime deal for around £6.50), and the best Chinese (better than Chinatown I would argue) at “Silk Road” in Camberwell. There is also one of the cheapest cinemas in London ("Peckham Plex").
178 New Cross Rd
London SE14 5AA
105 Peckham High St
London SE15 5RS
38 Holly Grove
London SE15 5DF
49 Camberwell Church Street
London SE5 8TR
95A Rye Ln
London SE15 4ST
Rózsa Zita Farkas is a curator and founding director of Arcadia Missa. Farkas is also an associate lecturer for MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art and BA Fine Art Dissertations at Camberwell College of Arts.