Trouve la Food bitches! That’s right - we are of course well into the era of personalised experiences where our leisure activities are tailored to the niche. New generations of gourmet groovers are now all grown-up and in charge of restaurants! Whether you are into your vinyl or your vibraphones, there will be something that tickles your fancy.
The way we listen is challenging the way we eat out, so we have put together a soulful smorgasbord of unique funky food experiences in London, both well-established and new, that will appeal to those with ears bigger than their tummies.
606 Club - Chelsea, SW10
This is hands down one of our favourites. The venue: intimate, simple, and very easy to miss as the entrance is essentially a brick wall. The food: top quality, no bullshit, European dishes with a mouthwatering homemade feel. The music: jazz, branching into soul and peripheral genres, from musicians at the top of their game. We would recommend to get there a little before the music starts as the vibe is to sit and listen while the band are playing, which totally makes sense as they are pretty much guaranteed to be incredible. You are never far from the stage, and the clientele/staff contribute to a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Price-wise it is definitely a treat, as you are also paying an additional entry fee £10-14 per head (this goes directly to the musicians) which is added onto your food bill - we would say 100% worth the money.
Average spend for two: £80
Northern Soul Bar - Archway, N19
Now for one you might not have come across. This little North London gem (see what they did there) hosts a wide range of events, including a Friday night blues jam, a vinyl fair on Sundays and other live music pretty much every day. Their diner-style food is reasonably priced, and they even do a soul brunch on weekends, sympathetically between 12 and 4pm, all brunch dishes under £10. Bargain. They also have a garden, jus sayin.
Average spend for two: £30
Berber + Q - Haggerston, E8
You can only go to this place if you’re super cool. ‘Mezze from the East. Music from the West’. Serving incredibly delicious Mediterranean infused BBQ food, Berber + Q host you in a dark, sexy, tastefully furnished railway arch while you listen to a selection of deep house. Told you you had to be cool. Their grill prices are not the most shocking you will have seen in London, all between £12 and £20, and for food this creative that is a steal. Their exciting array of cocktails are also to be tested and you can even case the joint musically to make sure it’s your thing by checking out their Soundcloud.
AND if you don’t make it in London, you can actually get an epic Berber + Q experience at Wilderness 2019 - find out more about it here.
Average spend for two: £60
Disco Brunches - everywhere
Where did all these disco brunches come from? It’s by no means the cheapest way to get your eggs in the morning but I suppose you do get food, a boogie and a window of about an hour in which to drink all the bottomless booze while listening to Prince for 30-ish quid. You do the maths. This is kind of 2-in-1, but whatever. Here are a couple of them:
The Breakfast Club - Clapham, SW11
Every Saturday; 2 hours' entry time and bottomless booze; £35 total per person
Hop Hop LDN’s Disco Brunch - ‘secret’ locations
Second Saturday of the month; 1 hours’ bottomless booze (between 12-1pm); 5 hours' entry time; £30 total per person
Pizza Express Live - multiple locations
A well-established champion of live, jazz-oriented music. You pay for a ticket per event, which can range from £15 - 30, and of course for the meal. The artists are top of the range, and the sound quality has been on point when we have been. I would argue that the quality of Pizza Express food has not increased in conjunction with its price (I am bitter due to a couple of overcooked pizzas from here, which seems ironic) however, their attitude to live music is certainly not to be dismissed. This is a nice evening out.
Average spend for two (excluding tickets): £40
Brilliant Corners - Dalston, E8
This is one for the club connoisseurs and sound specialists. This restaurant serves Japanese food, plays jazz, disco and electronic music and boasts one of the best sound systems in London. Brothers Amit and Aneesh Patel have carefully modified mixing desks and curated the speaker system, featuring a Klipsch (yikes) in each corner (brilliant) in order to achieve the best audio experience possible. This attitude is totally à la New York Loft/Gallery à la Mancuso/Siano, in terms of the care and dedication to giving others a chance to enjoy real quality live and recorded music. We salute this.
Average spend for two: £60
Spiritland - Kings Cross, N1C
Here’s another one for the audiophile vinylheads. Yes it’s in Granary Square. Also home to a world-class sound system, Spiritland functions as a café during the day and more of a bar by night, with a really cool, cosy interior. They also host talks and album launches, and their own broadcasting studio. They serve a very wide range of tasty, trendy, food, pretty much all priced under £10. Nice. We would recommend to anyone after a casual, sociable, easy-going environment, day or night, where they can soak up some culture/sweet sounds and meet other like-minded music lovers at the same time - why go to the pub when you can go to Spiritland?
Average spend for two: £30
Troy Bar - Hoxton, N1
This is a truly rare find, especially in this area of London, as it is somewhere where quality and affordability meat. I mean meet. They serve delicious, classic Caribbean food in generous portions and showcase music of unparalleled quality. Troy hosts a variety of nights, including jazz grooves, 60s & 70s and a jam night - their open mic on Tuesdays will also probably be the best open mic you have ever been to. Drinks are standard London prices but food averages at £7 per dish and entry is generally £5 - unreal!! And as if that wasn’t good enough, the lunch deal is £5.50 (except there might not be live music at this time - lunchtime is not jazz o'clock).
Average spend for two (including entry): £35
Piebury Corner - Kings Cross, N1 and Holloway, N7
This is a random one, with a great name (except they’re not actually on Highbury Corner but we can let that slide) . Does what it says on the tin and more - excellent pie and mash with an exciting range of fillings, as well as 'Eat to the Beat' and other events where their resident DJs will play fun tunes while you gorge on those pastrified badboys.
Average spend for two: £20
Jazz Café/Blues Kitchens - Camden, NW1/Brixton, Camden and Shoreditch
Do we even need to tell you? These venues run by The Columbo Group get amazing artists in, and the food is definitely good quality - The Blues Kitchens serve BBQ/diner dishes and brunch, while Jazz Café has a small but continent-crossing menu of classy plates. This would however also come under the ‘treat’ bracket we reckon - the drinks are quite expensive here. The price for a restaurant ticket at Jazz Café is usually about £5 more than the normal one, so you’re looking at between £15 and 30 for your ticket alone. You must also pay a £20 food deposit on booking, so be prepared!
Average spend for two (excluding tickets): £60
Illustration by Isabel Fitzsimmons