The food, drink and travel writer describes why the serene and creative atmosphere of Seven Dials makes it one of her favourite spots for a drink, dinner and a caffeine hit
As a born and bred Londoner, it’s safe to say that I know my city like the back of my hand. I’ve spent years strutting up and down the busy streets of Soho, Carnaby and Oxford Circus, but if you were to hedge your bets on where to find me, it’s highly likely that I’d be nestled away in one of my favourite spots in the Seven Dials area. Although Seven Dials is wedged in between two of the busiest Tube stations, it somehow has this slightly secretive, magical quality. It’s the best kept, not-so-secret hang out that offers effortlessly fashionable independent outlets.
So many fond memories of mine come from aimlessly wandering in and out of shops and galleries, before inevitably stopping for a glass of red at chic French wine bar, Le Beaujolais. Things run at a different pace in Seven Dials, and the sheer amount of activities has always encouraged me to be spontaneous while there. Perhaps the only thing that seems to stay consistent in every visit is my long standing relationship with the caffeine aficionados at Monmouth Coffee. The idea of a queue is practically a second nature in today’s climate, however, all my formal training comes from lining up patiently for my Monmouth fix.
Conveniently next door is the skincare mecca, Fresh, which never fails to draw me in with floral and fruity scents and is almost always successful in seeing me leave with a bag full of skincare. How does it happen? Well, if like me, retail therapy is something you enjoy, then there’s no better place to indulge as the stereotypes of London are absent in this surreal bubble where all is calm and people adopt a cool approach to things.
A friend of mine works in the area, and during the summer it has always been a ritual to meet at the base of the sundial monument after work. Often I’d wait for her accompanied by a box of Rococo chocolates, watching taxis and pedestrians tangle around each other before heading down one of the six surrounding streets. We’d both potter down Monmouth Street, which leads to the elusive Neal’s Yard. Having usually both worked up an appetite, we’d decide between Homeslice’s cult 18-inch pizza, which is as impressive as it sounds, or delicious seasonal plates from The Barbary. It really depends on the mood.
Although things are tightly packed in the yard, sometimes we’d get lucky and find a window seat, which offers an almost alfresco dining experience among the colourful chaos, occasionally locking eyes with smug diners sat across the yard who also enjoy their food and view. There’s a mutual sense of happiness in the area, and once you’re in the know, you’ll find yourself delving deep inside the belly of Seven Dials, London’s inner city equivalent of Diagon Alley.
Katrina Mirpuri writes about food, drink, travel and music for The Glass Magazine