On and off-the-beaten-track in London, with a focus on music, food and drink, street art, city curiosities and open spaces. The authors are Katrina Leskanich, the lead singer from Katrina and The Waves, Sher Harper who is a freelance writer and Peggy Lee, a discriminating toy poodle.
‘I moved to London in 1997 and because I was often away on tour, found it difficult to really get to know the city until I got Peggy Lee, my white toy poodle and then we explored the city together. I took a camera with me and we discovered some cool, fun and off-the-beaten-track places that don’t get a mention in the usual London guides. I took photos and of course it only seemed right that Peggy Lee was in every shot after all it was as much her journey as it was mine. The result is a quirky collection of our favourite London places.’
PEGGY LEE LOVES LONDON: MY LONDON GUIDE
Katrina Leskanich & Sher Harper
Metropoodle Press 13th May 2013 £8.99
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Alaska studios in Alaska Street were founded in 1977 by Pat Collier who was the bass player in the Vibrators. We recorded there in 1983 when Pat produced our first few records – ‘Katrina & The Waves’ and ‘Katrina & The Waves 2′ until we were signed by Capitol Records. We used to drive down from Feltwell in Norfolk every day for about a week because that’s all the time it took us to record our first album. Because the studio was under the railway bridge and back then the rooms weren’t very well soundproofed, we had to stop every time a train went across or when the doorbell rang – which you can hear on ‘Don’t Take Her Out of My World’ on our first album. We used to go to ‘La Ronde’ an Italian cafe across the street where I had my first cappuccino and bread and butter pudding and the Wellington on Waterloo Road. At the time there weren’t any shops in Waterloo station just a pub which closed at 11pm and a Wimpy. When we strolled around Waterloo station in the evening there were always more pigeons than people.
Centre Point was one of London’s first skyscrapers and stood empty for five years after it was built in 1967. Nobody liked it when it was built but we all love it now as we love anything that survives London’s aggressive redevelopment. It’s been squatted, featured in cult films and now it’s Grade II listed and getting a complete makeover. But already in at the top is the Paramount Bar on the 32nd floor with 360 degree views over London. Simply stunning and one of London’s best kept secrets.
This Jewish deli was started by local butcher Harry Morgan in 1948 and is now the most well know New York style restaurant in London. Famed for their salt beef sandwiches and their chicken soup with noodles, kreplach or kneidlach, the 100 seater restaurant is usually rammed at lunchtime. I had one of the best chicken noodle soups I’ve ever tasted and salt beef on rye where the mustard served on the side nearly blew my head off. The mostly haimish menu also offers some more hardcore items like chopped liver or tongue sandwiches and then there’s all day breakfast and a pudding menu. I had their homemade cheese blintz with blueberry sauce. It looked a bit limp and colourless on the plate and apart from a small splash of blueberry sauce was quite bland. But blintz apart it was good comfort food on a cold day.
29-31 St. John’s Wood High Street
London NW8 7NH
It looks as if they’ve just set up in a semi derelict butcher’s shop but with clever lighting and designed distress – it feels as if I’ve just stepped into a lower east side bar. Why it’s even got a zinc ceiling.
The word has got round because you have to get here early to get a seat and by early I mean 5pm. If you don’t mind standing around the bar waiting for a seat, then this is a great place for a drink and a bite any time of day or evening. There’s no telephone, no reservation and no online menu – they think they’re a bit special and if the food is as good as the vibe then I’ll have to agree. We started with stuffed fried olives, buttermilk fried chicken and a Hendricks Martini. Not much of a fried chicken fan and the addition of buttermilk didn’t sway my opinion. The stuffed fried olives though were not like any olives I’ve ever tried before and I still can’t decide if I liked them or not. I did like the very smooth Hendricks gin martini served with a slice of cucumber in a delightfully retro style glass. Then we had a margarita accompanied by a couple of sliders and string fries. The sliders are like half size burgers in a bun with the option of beef, pork, lamb or salmon. We ordered the ground beef with bone marrow and the pulled pork with pickled apple which were exceptional and I could so easily have ordered more. But we had yet to try their mains, so we went for mac and cheese with a crispy crumbly breadcrumb cheese topping done to perfection and, with a nod to something more in keeping with my on off Atkins diet, a strip steak salad which was mouthwateringly refreshing. The margarita was nicely soured and to be savoured – still one more for the road and sadly we had to leave. The seats at the back facing the window are best, where you can watch Soho life or just enjoy the backdrop of Soho’s neon lights, which from here is like a snapshot of old Soho – strip bars and peep shows.
61 Rupert Street
London W1D 7PW