A snob’s guide to Charlotte Street (Fitzrovia)

I have a long-held prejudice against Fitzrovia, largely born out of having been at one time involved with someone from the London artsy classes and feeling completely out of place in that situation.
Just next door to the lovely Georgian Bloomsbury that makes up my university’s campus, most of its history revolves around bohemian artists and lefties, and there is still an element of mixing luxury and deprivation, with an artsy flavour. Karl Marx used to love Charlotte Street, which is quite ironic since the 4 visits below have to do with 3 Tories and someone who is a member of the Labour party universally regarded as being a closet Tory.

The Rev JW Simpson
Situated at 32 Goodge Street, it’s not quite in the thick of it, but it’s a lively and well attended basement cocktail bar (read hard to find) with shabby-wannabe-chic (or maybe not, because it fails so catastrophically the only option is it never tried to be chic) décor and a cocktail menu that is actually rather cool. I have tried about 4 cocktails with a woman’s name and was somehow still standing at the end despite the lack of food (they make sure you keep drinking water). I don’t remember disliking any of them in particular, but I can’t remember any of them being so exceptional I remember what I ordered. I know they were cocktails with female names as I used it as a way to narrow down my choices being Miss Indecisive and Miss I-Like-To-Try-All-New-Things especially when a charming young man and/or my parents are paying for them. What I remember is their toilets were rather weird. I could possibly go there again if I run out of new places to go to.

Vagabond Wines
If you think I could never find fault with a place that sells wine then you would be wrong. I can’t find too much fault with the wines I tried, but the person who designed the interiors there needs a slap. First of all, those chairs downstairs are so uncomfortable I’d rather be in labour without anaesthetics. If you are upstairs it’s stools, so I’m not sure what’s the best option. You need to get the couch and never leave it unattended for any reason. I didn’t have any food from the menu, but it seemed worth trying. I had some wines although the space has been packed to maximise the profit off people who like to be cool and it’s really annoying to try and get to the machines to get the wine, although it allowed me to discover some rather nice wines I’ve never had before (Côte Chalonnaise, Côtes de Roussillon, and Roter Veltliner). The selection is fair, and if you can get the couch and one bottle or two instead of buying by the glass, and maybe get some of the charcuteries and cheese platters to go with it it’s actually a lovely place.

This weirdly named place is a mozzarella bar. Rather amazing if you can have pizza (no gluten-free options) but it’s overpriced if you are relying on the few options you can have (buffalo mozzarella has a very low lactose level so it was fine for me) because the salad plates are incredibly small. You can fool a Brit, but I know I can get a huge mozzarella for half that price in the original area and I’m not happy about it. The only thing that kept the wrath of Alessia from reaching biblical proportions was the nice local wine I selected to go with the food, a Falanghina Picco del Sole Beneventano IGT. I was also able to fill my stomach with a torta caprese, a flourless chocolate and almond cake that is also traditional from the part of Italy where the rest was from, which calmed my increasingly obvious OCD tendencies. The service was alright and the décor was the stereotypical minimalist and  geometrical shapes that seem to characterise every Italian restaurant in London since someone broke the news that Lily and the Tramp’s iconic checked table cloth is not how Italians do it.
Why does everywhere serving Italian food look like the Armani hotel? Good grief, we’re the people who built the dome of the cathedral in Florence, the people of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raffaello (not the Ninja Turtles mind you…). Can’t we manage a bit more creativity?

Beyond Bread 
A gluten free bakery in Charlotte Place. I’d say the word starting in H that is the title of a Jeff Buckley song but it’s Lent and I don’t want to get in trouble. I went there for a quick lunch with the babe Helen carrying a suitcase, while I had my signature Longchamp full to the point of exploding. The space is incredibly small but rather pretty (although still too minimalist geometrical blah blah for my taste), so those turned out to be unfortunate circumstances. It’s a very popular place, the queue was fairly long, and they have somehow managed to screw up orders all around. They seem lovely people, a bit hipster maybe, so I wouldn’t really hold it against them, especially as the food was good (I had a Mexican Stand-off baguette) and it’s like one of few places in the area where I can get food. Another one I know of sells raw food and the healthy vibe is making me a bit wary to walk in. Beyond Bread sells CAKE. I can forgive anything for gluten-free cake because not everyone eating gluten-free does it as a diet fad and those of us who are trying to avoid medical issues like their cake and junk food as much as everyone else.

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