Camden Passage was originally the place to go for antiques – while that side of things do remain with the market, there are now a whole host of other reasons to visit. Mark Kebble round ups ten of the best
1 ETC. GIFT SHOP
In the space of 20 minutes, literally every passer-by has stopped to peer in the shop window of Etc. A relative newbie to Camden Passage (a year old), Kate McIntyre’s shop has certainly added extra intrigue to a street that is already filled with plenty of inspiring goodies. The range of humorous cards put a smile on my face, and the gifts on show were colourful and quirky – suggesting Etc. will have no problems settling in.
95 Camden Passage N1 8EA; 020 7359 5633
2 FELIX & LILY’S
When Emma Brown and Vonda Norman both had children of their own, they saw a gap in the children’s boutique market in Islington – and filled it impressively with Felix & Lily’s. A veritable feast today of the hottest children’s clothes and toys, their reputation has spread much further afield than just the Angel area.
3 Camden Passage N1 8EB; 020 7424 5423; felixandlilys.com
It’s arguably the one restaurant everyone outside of Islington knows about, let alone the locals. When organising a meeting or a lunch, or even a photo shoot (as has been the case with me), invariably this has been the name that comes up. The service is top notch, as is the food, and the recent addition of The Club Room as has added a real community edge to proceedings too, with many local organisations holding events there. Keep up the good work.
Camden Passage N1 8EG; 020 7359 2888; fredericks.co.uk
4 HOME & PANTRY
Founder Jenny Hughes appears to be at the centre of everything that’s good about the community spirit on Camden Passage. Her shop is wonderful too, full of beautiful home furnishings, accessories and gifts, with the service to match. We challenge you to visit if you haven’t already done so and leave without buying something.
114 Islington High Street, Camden Passage N1 8EG; 020 7226 9528; homeandpantry.com
5 THE BLOW BAR
You wouldn’t normally associate the glitz of Los Angeles with the rustic charm of Camden Passage, but that was the inspiration behind The Blow Bar. A styling bar concept salon, the welcome from Emma Rees and her team is always warm, and it’s a place where you can enjoy a 30-minute high fashion blow dry for a cracking price of £25.
25 Camden Passage N1 8EA; 020 7354 1551; theblowbar.com
6 THE BREAKFAST CLUB
It could have all been so different. Two children of the 80s, searching for that elusive name for their first cafe in Soho… ‘The Breakfast Club’ could easily have been ‘St Elmo’s’ or ‘Save Ferris’. Chickens and pigs would have breathed a sigh of relief. But it was not to be and The Breakfast Club was born in 2005 when they moved into a small cafe on D’Arblay Street in Soho, painted the front egg yolk yellow and filled the place with junk from their childhood bedrooms. The Lucky Trolls seemed to have worked, they built it and punters came in their drives. In 2007 they opened on Camden and then in 2009 East London beckoned in the form of the skinny jeans capital of the world, Hoxton. In May 2011, exactly two years after Hoxton we moved into our new home in Spitalfields. They have even gone south of the river. Ever wondered what the queues were on a Sunday down Camden Passage? That’s the queue to get into The Breakfast Club.
31 Camden Passage N1 8EA; 020 7226 5454; thebreakfastclubcafes.com
We have always loved SMUG and we are clearly not alone judging by the column inches it has taken up in magazines all over the country. The brainchild of Lizzie Evans, she has turned a regular shop into a light and airy space filled with 1950s furniture, handmade toys, gorgeous stationery, quirky kitchenware and chic ceramics.
13 Camden Passage N1 8EA; 020 7354 0253; ifeelsmug.com
8 ANNIE’S VINTAGE
We are not alone in loving the mass of vintage clothing that greets you when stepping through Annie Moss’s shop door. The movie industry often comes calling, and the fashion set can’t get enough of it: everyone from John Galliano to Ralph Lauren have raided the shop for quirky trimmings, accessories and one-off pieces.
12 Camden Passage N1 8ED; 020 7359 0796; anniesvintageclothing.co.uk
9 CAMDEN HEAD
Now, this is a proper boozer. For a start, it has original period features and a round bar that’s perfect for meeting and greeting. We love their range of drinks, but it’s the little extras that help it stand out – or should that be up? After all, they are one of London’s premier venues for comedy, with something to tickle your funny bone every night of the week.
2 Camden Walk N1 8DY; 020 7359 0851; camden-head.co.uk
Some five years ago, we first came across Loop on Cross Street – and were amazed with what we found. Colourful yarns and knitted gems were everywhere we looked and we were concerned when founder Susan Cropper announced they were moving to Camden Passage. We needn’t have worried – things have got just bigger and better.
15 Camden Passage N1 8EA; 020 7288 1160; loopknitting.com#