This Herb Lester Associates, publisher of various guide books including A London Pub for Every Occasion. And so we pick their brains below and even get a pub reccy or two…week’s Londoners are authors Jane and Ben who make up
How long have you lived in london where and why?
BEN: All of my life. I was born here and have no reason to leave. For all of its irritations I love it; despite the daily misery of seeing businesses I admire collapse, and buildings I adore demolished. It can be whatever you want it to be, it’s all here. I live in Camden Town, which is close to where I’ve always lived. It still has attractive, modest Victorian architecture, a handful of good local businesses – an old coffee shop, a greengrocer, a great shoemender in Mornington Crescent – and it’s convenient for where I want to go.
JANE: I have lived here for 16 years and in East London for almost all of them. The choice was made for me, and I’m stuck here now! The pace of change here is dizzying – it sometimes feels like our house moves location every couple of months. Highlights both old and new include London Fields Lido, Mangal 1 Occakbasi, Tayyabs, Pavilion Cafe, E Pellicci, Hackney Picturehouse, Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.
You obvs know a lot about the city. What’s been you fav guide to write?
BEN: Writing and researching the London guides is fun, it’s a reason to explore areas that are unfamiliar and to find corners of the city that have gone unnoticed. But I also enjoy the guides to other cities. We had a fantastic time researching the Berlin guide, and we always enjoy Paris, which has managed to hold onto so many more of its small businesses than London.
JANE: I would add our research trip to New York in 2012. I almost passed out we ate so many meals – up to six a day – but almost all were excellent. We met with Jim Datz who illustrated two of our New York guides and other contributors; it felt like there was a Herb Lester outpost. We also managed a visit to J Crew’s head office, possibly the nicest reception area in the world.
You recently wrote a book about the pubs of London. Where is your fav London pub?
BEN: As our book says, there’s a pub for every occasion here. I love Soho pubs in daytime, when they’re not so crowded. Maybe the Coach and Horses at 3pm on a weekday, and then The Southampton Arms in Kentish Town for any other time.
JANE: I like the Palm Tree in Mile End, for the beautiful wallpaper and warm, golden glow.
Are there any guides in the pipeline?
BEN: A great many. The next few aren’t about London, but we’ve many more planned for here.
Finally what would be your ideal day in London…
BEN: There are limitless variations, but this one would be very pleasant. It is a hot summer’s day and the city is sleepy. It begins with a leisurely walk across Regents Park, stopping afterwards into John Simons in Chiltern Street for a chat, and maybe to buy a new shirt or pair of shoes, afterwards a cup of coffee with a liver sausage sandwich with English mustard and gherkin at Paul Rothe & Son. Fortified, I make my way via backstreets into Soho for a drink, maybe at The Old Coffee House. Onto Charing Cross Road and then Cecil Court to look at wonderful books and ephemera at Pleasures Of Past Times. That’s followed by some duck and rice at HK Diner, and then onto the New Evaristo for a nightcap.
JANE: It would begin with coffee and bread-buying at the E5 bake house. I have a standing date with a friend whenever we manage to escape our children – midday dim sum in Chinatown followed by an afternoon film at the Curzon Soho and some fabric shopping at Liberty and The Cloth House on Wardour Street. If we were aiming for total perfection, we’d have a few drinks at The Three Kings in Clerkenwell and finish up with dinner at Moro.