On a drizzly Monday in April, this week in fact, I was invited down to Soho to explore the historic Berwick Street, a location famed for its market (founded in the 18th century), record and cloth shops as well as its off-beat cultural importance in the life of Soho. Often used as a cut through to streets like Wardour, Brewer or the three running off Old Compton Street, it was almost strange to take the time to walk slowly and take in the atmosphere and architecture.
I started off with lunch at Bone Daddies on Peter Street, which is famed for its exceptional and authentic ramen. Joined by the PR's who look after the promotional interests of the area (as well as other destination areas of central London), we opted for a sharing starter of pork ribs, edamame and soft shell crab which was all excellent, succulent and fresh. I highly recommend a visit here, but get there early as it gets busy - fast.
What is great about Berwick Street is that all of the stores are independent which means it is chain free, specialist and above all interesting. From the fascinating W. Sitch & Co, an antiques lighting shop that is a trove of fixtures, Nudie Jeans with its unique Denim Repair Shop to brands such as Oliver Spencer, Percival, Sandqvist and Universal Works who chose the street as their first bases in London. This is testament to the nature and atmosphere of the street which is a hive of activity around lunch times with people vying for excellent street food from the market or music fans scouting out current or rare records at one of the many music stores. Whilst not on Berwick Street but on Brewer which runs at its base, make sure you head to Lights of Soho. A cafe-come-workspace-come-members club, the neon signs and art work are incredibly mesmerising, as is the current exhibition; Ben Eine's Soho Riot which runs until May 21st.
I have made a booking for lunch at Polpetto this week, so I will again take my time wandering down this almost hidden treasure. I say almost as many have pounded the payments of Berwick Street yet may have not fully appreciated what charm and interest it holds.