Crowds at Queen's Park Farmer's Market. Photos: Anna Williamson

Crowds at Queen’s Park Farmer’s Market. Photos: Anna Williamson

[dropcap]E[/dropcap]very Sunday, in case you didn’t know, Salusbury Road primary school is transformed into the award winning Queen’s Park Farmers’ Market.

It’s relaxed and friendly, with an inescapable sense of community: young professionals browse the hot dishes, children shriek in the playground, and a glossy army of yummy mummies wield Waitrose bags-for-life. The air is filled with the smell of sizzling sausages and freshly baked sourdough baguettes.

So yes, it’s that old cliché, a foodie’s paradise. But a fun one. Stalls groan with provenance-heavy fish, meat, breads and cheeses, as well as locally sourced vegetables. Succulent Gyoza dumplings are served hot, juicy and dripping in chilli sauce. Sweet treats tempt the passer-by (particularly irresistible are the chocolate brownies). And other favourites include Madame Gautier, who, in addition to selling at various markets, have opened a new restaurant in Kensal Rise.

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1. Now you’ve scoffed, walk to the park itself

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]way from the bustle of the market is the eponymous green space. Flanked on all sides by elegant Victorian and Edwardian houses, it’s been the focal point of the community since it was opened in 1897 by Queen Victoria.

Chilly but surprisingly spacious: Queen's Park

Chilly but surprisingly spacious: Queen’s Park

Designed by renowned Victorian rebel gardener Alexander Mckinzie (who also was behind Finsbury Park and the Albert and Victoria Embankment), it stretches 30 acres of grassy open space and structured flower gardens. In true Victorian style, a park keeper called Long Tom was known to chase children from the dense shrubberies with a long stick (a bench dedicated to his name is still found in the quiet garden on the east side of the park).

The park was used as an allotment for local residents during the war and was bombed in 1940. Nowadays, there are film screenings hosted by the Nomad Cinema, an outdoor travelling cinema company throughout the warmer months, and several local fetes and fairs.[/box] [box style=”rounded” border=”full”]

2. Cultural bits ‘n’ bobs

Perfect for a weekend rummage: QP Books

Perfect for a weekend rummage: QP Books

[dropcap]Q[/dropcap]ueen’s Park Books, a much-loved bookshop on Salusbury Road, has tirelessly championed local authors for years. This includes the award-winning author and Queen’s Park resident, Zadie Smith, who can often be found giving talks and readings. Other famous faces to have shown up here include West London’s very own Hollywood starlet Emma Thompson. 87 Salusbury Road

And we have to mention The Shop again. The birth place of the cocktail jam jar craze, this independent bar is legendary amongst twentysomething Kensal Risers. As well as a great venue for DJ nights, the art on its walls is for sale and they serve home-made sausage rolls of epic proportions. The Shop also provides a home for local chefs in a pop-up restaurant style. In the past they’ve been a home to Korean chef duo Boa, and the North-South Soup Company. 75 Chamberlayne Road

The Shop

The Shop. Photo: Stephen Emms

Meanwhile, Lexi Cinema is an institution. Largely run by a team of volunteers, it raises funds for Lynedoch village in South Africa and projects co-ordinated through the Sustainability Institute. An eclectic range of talks, Q& A’s, burlesque nights and even screenings of National Theatre Live. 194b Chamberlayne Road [/box] [box style=”rounded” border=”full”]

3. My top 5 picks

Famous boozer: Paradise by way of Kensal Green

Famous boozer: Paradise by way of Kensal Green. Photo: Stephen Emms

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]es, yes, I know Kentishtowner has covered this area before, but the main drag of Kensal Rise, like Kentish Town, continues to blossom. This is where you will find Scarlet & Violet, a gorgeous flower shop that creates beautiful bouquets sold in quirky receptacles such as retro milk jugs, glass jars, and enamel swans. 76 Chamberlayne Road

Up by the Overground station, Minkie’s squeeze fresh juices, and prepare hearty sandwiches, daily specials and barista style coffee. Doron (the owner and head chef) sources all his meat from Brook’s Butchers, the family butcher over the road. The ‘Minx’ is a sensational salami, houmous and grilled vegetable sandwich; a definitive house special. Chamberlayne Road

Sacro Coure probably serves up the best pizza outside of Italy. The smaller sister of the original in Ealing, this charming pizzeria is prone to expert bases, tasty toppings and speedy service in its relaxed interior. 45 Chamberlayne Road

Lovely: Scarlet Violet

Lovely: Scarlet & Violet

Iris is a chic clothing boutique which offers a range of high end brands including J Brand, ACNE and Day Birger et Mikkelsen. 73 Salusbury road

And finally, what to say about the institution that is Paradise by Way of Kensal Rise? This wildly popular gastropub and bar, which also hosts live music, is as popular on a Saturday night as it is on a Sunday for an absolutely cracking roast. And it’s home to the monthly Kensal Flea, where you can shop, drink and eat for a £1 entrance fee. 19 Kilburn Lane [/box]

What are your tips for hanging out in the area?

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2 Responses

  1. Emmaluna

    Great review of the loveliness of Kensal Rise – just missing a hidden treasure (right next to the Paradise) it’s: COCODELIC and serves fabulous Caribbean cuisine in the coolest of atmospheres! Eat it and chill in it to believe it!! ❤️

    Reply
  2. Tom

    COMPTOIR MEZZE the Lebanese and Moroccan restaurant near Kensal rise station is a lovely little gem of a place. Nice selection of middle eastern foods and wines and it’s BYO too!

    Reply

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