Susie Steiner’s West Hampstead guide
I’m a seriously local person. I don’t like to leave my manor. When I leave Whamp, I feel like I need a decompression chamber to prevent the bends. I’m a homey, hanging with my FG-massive. I’ll stop being embarrassing now.
My favourite place to eat: The Wet Fish, for posh nosh. We’ve tried the new posh one, Ham, and liked it. The Czech & Slovac Club (74 West End Lane) for schnitzel, dumplings, goulash – everything Czech in fact. And the best beer. I’ve been going there since my Czech grandfather first took me aged 5, so ahem a few years now. It hasn’t changed one jot except the smoking ban cleared the air somewhat. If you’ve never been, try it.
Sunday roast at: home, obvs. Or The Green Room or The Alliance. There is def an opening for more Sunday roasts out – Ham, are you hearing us?
I still miss: Tom & Jenny’s Kitchen Table. Dizar gift shop – remember that one? The flower lady who used to be at the entrance to the cemetary, before Tesco came.
I don’t take change easily.
West Hampstead could do with more: clothing and general shops. An old fashioned DIY store. I have a secret yen for a GAP. Pants and socks, people. Pants and socks.
West Hampstead could do with less: estate agents, obvs. What have we done to deserve this plague of shiny suits?
I hate that: the pavements are cluttered with wheelie bins, the high street awash with rubbish bags which the foxes raid. As a sight-impaired person, my travel down the payment is fraught with risk on bin day. But after hearing Georgia Gould, Camden Labour leader, talk about the brutal cuts to local authority budgets, I reluctantly concede that the bin changes were necessary. Reluctantly, I tell you. I mutter audibly to myself as I step around seeping bags on Fortune Green Road.
The best place to walk: round the cemetery in high summer, across the Finchley Road and up the paths to the Heath in autumn, down to the farmers market on Saturday mornings.
Hold your kid’s party at: Play centre on Fortune Green, which also happens to be the best after school/holiday play scheme in town with the loveliest staff.
Get drunk at: I’m a notoriously tame drunk. Half a shandy, home by 9pm. But I choose to spend those precious un-drunk minutes at Bobby Fitzpatrick’s, because it’s so like being in my living room. Also, excellent nachos slathered with everything.
Exercise at: I’m sorry what? I can’t hear you.
Have your hair done at: Tila Studio, on Fortune Green Road. Amazing hair colouring. Also, profesh make up – useful if crap eyesight leads to frankly bizarre make-up application.
Fill the cultural tank at: West End Lane Books of course. Brilliant readings by authors (not just me), seriously good thriller recommendations from Danny and an all round warm hug of a shop. Also hilarious on Twitter. JW3’s not bad also.
I will be at West End Lane Books on April 26 to celebrate paperback publication of Persons Unknown, my latest Manon novel, along with the murder squad detective who advises me on all things procedural. He’s seriously interesting. Come for him. Contact West End Lane Books (see below) to reserve a spot.
My books have a distinct local flavour. Missing, Presumed mentioned Fordwych Road and Fortune Green both appearing, and a couple of characters buy Soleros on Mill Lane (gripping), while Persons Unknown is awash with Killy High Road refs. It’s out in paperback on April 5 and signed copies are available from West End Lane Books or tweet them @welbooks.