London A-Z – Crouch End
Crouch End is a deep ravine that has been worn down by the weight of endless prams over the past fifteen years it certainly has something of the Nappy Valley about it. Yet as little as twenty years ago the area was awash with kebab shops, curry houses and fishes and chips. Now it is the quintessence of gentrification: at the weekends it’s often hard to move for discarded latte wrappers.
The Clocktower is perhaps its most distinctive landmark. What few people realise is that through the mysterious door at the base of the building lies a network of bedrooms and yoga studios built for the 329 actors who live in the area. If you don’t believe me, set your alarm for 4am, nip into Crouch and gawp as Tamsin Outhwaite emerges fully made-up before dawn. Or you could try knocking on the door I did this once, only to be greeted by a sour-faced Phil Mitchell. Drop a bomb on Crouch End and BBC1 would shut down by 5pm.
Whether it’s John Simm in his Spiderman t-shirt, Neil Morrissey behaving badly or Travis from the band Travis, the area is awash with slebs. James McAvoy can be seen Shamelessly lurking about, as can Simon Pegg, whose Shaun of the Dead was muchly filmed here. X-Files star Gillian Anderson spent her childhood in Crouch End and has especially fond memories of Budgens (the old, classic layout). The keen eyed will recognise the local environs in the opening credits to Peep Show.
Dunn’s Bakery is a tiny, shiny gem in a corporate world the freshest bread, finest sandwiches and fastest service this side of the Emirates. The area also features Europe’s last remaining record shop (it is Fab). Crouch’s own mini Brick Lane may have shrunk over the past few years but it still packs a hot punch.
For my money the most happening nightspot in the neighbourhood is Mono Bar on Park Road. A cocktail bar with a warm ambience, the drinks are expertly mixed and competitively priced, the atmosphere nothing if not friendly, and the staff charming. Oh, and I know the owner.
If Crouch End were a person it would be a yummy mummy of two, lazily buying a preposterously priced lampshade on a Tuesday afternoon.