Until recently, I used to live in the leafy neighbourhood of St Johns Wood. While it was gorgeous having Regent’s Park on my doorstep, particularly in the summer months, and Primrose Hill ten minutes away to nip over to for brunch, I must admit, for a party girl like me, there wasn’t a great deal in the way of nightlife.
While most of my evenings were spent not far away in central London, there were a few times I would venture ever so slightly east instead, to Camden. Camden Market is actually one of my favourite parts of town and I always wonder why I don’t visit more often when I’m there. It used to house one of the best street food stalls in London, When Mac Met Cheese (So good that I once dragged friends here in the snow), and the lock always seemed like the perfect place to catch up on gossip over a bottle of beer on warm evenings. But other than that, I was never really sure where to go. No little neighbourhood hangouts that I knew of. Nowhere serving a good daiquiri. No real reason to give up Soho for a night.
So imagine my delight when I heard a cute little local’s bar, Simmons, had just opened. I visited on a chilly evening earlier this week. Just opposite Mornington Crescent Tube at the bottom of Camden High Street, this neighbourhood bar is the second site in the Simmons family after the success of their first in Kings Cross.
Other than a big Damien Hirst-esque skull-shaped disco ball that hangs from the ceiling (biggest in the world apparently), everything about this place feels quite retro. Most of the tables are wooden school desks (the old ones where you can actually lift the lids and hide stuff inside), and the wallpaper is old copies of The Beano. Mismatched lamp shades glow above your head and sit on shelves randomly placed on the walls. Piles of vintage tea cups are stacked behind the bar where a fruit machine sits amongst the bottles of spirits, and perhaps best of all, and much to The Boy’s delight, a proper, old-school, Super Nintendo sits on one of the desks at the back for customers to challenge each other to classic games like Mario Kart.
I lost The Boy to Streetfighter for a full 20 minutes, but luckily, it was still quiet and early on a Monday evening, so I spent the time chatting to the lovely Manager, Elliot, who made me a tasty daiquiri (served in a teacup – obviously). While they don’t sell themselves as a cocktail bar, they have a solid cocktail menu so that guests wanting a mojito can sip one alongside their mates enjoying a glass of wine, or a cup of tea (actual tea that is).
If I still lived round the corner, Simmons would almost certainly become one of my locals. And what more can you want than that? It seems that, even just two weeks in, the Camden residents have embraced this hangout as their own as they have apparently had a couple of rammed weekends. If you’re planning on going and want to chat at the bar like I did, or (more importantly) secure yourself a spot at the Nintendo, go early. A little local gem.
0207 383 5595
7 Camden High Street
London NW1 7JE