Category Archives: The Grill

The London Grill: Lloyd Shepherd

We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.


[L]loyd Shepherd is a writer, journalist and digital producer. He is the author of The English Monster, and lives in South London with his wife and children.

What’s your secret London tip?
The Vale Street Recycling Centre in Lambeth. It’s not a proper tip anymore, but you can recycle almost anything there, and the blokes who work there are always friendly and helpful.

What’s your secret London place?
Either Wapping or Rotherhithe. Either side of the Thames, both are still strangely undeveloped and filled with old buildings, intriguing walls and, best of all, great pubs. Try The Prospect of Whitby in Wapping or The Mayflower in Rotherhithe.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
People who are always griping about London. If you don’t like it, do feel free to move.

What’s your favourite building?
County Hall (1922-1986)

What’s your most hated building?
County Hall (1986-present)

What’s the best view in London?
The view from the top of Brockwell Park.

What’s your personal London landmark?
There are two, each one the birthplace of one of my children: my house and St Thomas’s Hospital.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
From Hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. An extraordinarily rich graphic novel retelling the saga of Jack the Ripper.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
Pub: the Half Moon in Herne Hill. Restaurant: Franklins in East Dulwich.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
I’d take the Overground to Wapping, have lunch in the Prospect of Whitby, walk along the river into the City and along the Embankment, watch the lights of London come on from Waterloo Bridge, and then see Richard Thompson playing in the Festival Hall. Followed by a boat down to Hammersmith and supper and a beer by the river. Note: this may not be physically possible.

The London Grill: Rosie Swash

We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.

[R]OSIE SWASH, a journalist for the Guardian. Born in north London, now a Hackney resident.

What’s your secret London tip?
The Lee Valley walk in east London is as good as taking a day trip to the countryside.

What’s your secret London place?
I love the little parks in the middle of busy parts of the city, like the one off of City Road by Ironmonger Row swimming baths.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Ah, the usual. Moody people, crowded places, terrible weather. Smelly buses are a personal bugbear.

What’s your favourite building?
I love the Hoover building on the A40. Incredible art deco design, the kind of attention to detail and grandeur that you never see any more.

What’s your most hated building?
Archway Tower. Why? What? Who? I mean, really.

What’s the best view in London?
Kite Hill on Hampstead Heath. I spent many a happy day walking there with my family so it always makes me feel at home.

What’s your personal London landmark?
I love the new Kings Cross ticketing hall, if that counts as a personal landmark!

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
The recent Secret of our Streets documentary series was brilliant. Can’t beat a bit of social history.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
I love Brawn on Columbia Road. It’s very European, so maybe that’s cheating!

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
I love a bit of indulgence and the York Hall Spa in Bethnal Green is very reasonably priced. I hear the Corner House restaurant is very nice, too.

The London Grill: Laurence Stephan

We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.

[L]AURENCE STEPHAN was born in 1987. In his early years, he gained skills and experience in all things creative and still has a zeal for writing music, videography and graphics. He obtained degrees in Nutrition, Exercise and Health, and Psychology, while working the nightclub scene; initially as a doorman, and subsequently as a nightclub manager. During his time at university, he rose to the position of Rugby President and then President of Student Sport. It was during this period that he found his passion for creating and organising different events, revolving around games, socialising and competition.

After university, he pursued a career in sales, but after two successful years, he had to leave due to chronic ill health. With an overactive mind and lots of free time, he decided to explore one of the events he ran at university called BucketRace. Initially designed as a 48-hour race throughout Europe, visiting multiple countries in a short space of time, the idea was condensed into a 4-hour race around London, replacing countries with London boroughs.

What’s your secret London tip?
Don’t sync your Spotify with an Uber Taxi and then play orgasm noises all the way home . . . it will significantly lower your rating.

What’s your secret London place?
The Stoop, home to the Harlequins! What I love about The Stoop are all the things surrounding the rugby matches. Before the games, you’ve always got fun rugby challenges you can take part in, and after the game, they have a bar with live music, which is something that’s hard to come by these days! It reminds me of my uni rugby days, where all the people playing sport during the day, met up and partied in the evening.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Pollution. I think we’re only just starting to understand the impact pollution has on our health and the environment. It’s been associated with metabolic diseases and mental health, and it’s such a shame that such an amazing city can be coated in such a dark cloud.

What’s your favourite building?
The Natural History Museum. It’s simply marvellous. I’ve loved it ever since I’ve been a child. It hosts some of my favourite exhibitions, such as photographer of the year award, and provides so much great information. Although I’m sad about Dippy the Diplodocus leaving!

What’s your most hated building?
I’m not sure I hate any, however, I’m not a huge fan of the Shard, it’s too tall and I have vertigo. I love cities like Reykjavik, where most of the tallest buildings are around four storeys (with the exception of Hallgrímskirkja), so if you’re going to build something that tall, then you should at least attempt to make it beautiful, which it isn’t. It also personifies a vibe of rules, fakery and soullessness.

What’s the best view in London?
Greenwich Observatory. Where else can you find an amazing view of London and outer space at the same time?

What’s your personal London landmark?
I’d have to say the fortress that is Twickenham Rugby stadium. I think any rugby lover would be mad not to!  What I love about Twickenham is the atmosphere. It’s far enough outside London to get away from it all, and on match days it carries its own culture and community that you don’t get at places like Wembley.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
I thought fairly hard about this and nearly went for a highbrow answer that personified sophistication. However, in the end, opted for Shaun of the Dead. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are comic geniuses, plus I love a good Cornetto.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
I’m not sure if this counts as I don’t drink alcohol. I’m going to say my local coffee shop – Electric Coffee. I’m there almost every day. Food wise, I don’t think you can beat street food. I think I’d have to say my favourite spot is Hatton Garden.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
Participating in a BucketRace of course! Although that wouldn’t be a day off for me. So, instead, I’d go for a local brunch. I used to visit a cafe called Bob’s, however, sadly they’ve recently closed. I’d then grab an Electric Coffee and honestly, I’d go to the gym with friends, train, play sport and relax in the spa. However, that’s a little boring, so backing up to Electric Coffee… I’d head into East London for an activity like Junk Yard golf or Flight Bar with the lads, grab some chocolate at Dark Sugars, grab Indian food for dinner and then head over to Aeronaught in Acton for their circus and VR games. I may substitute Aeronaught for Four Thieves in Clapham, which is a venue I’ve heard lots about and really want to visit.

The London Grill: Pete Johnson

We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.


[P]ETE JOHNSON spent 60 years living and working in London, mostly in the Ambulance Service and the Metropolitan Police. In 2012, he retired to Norfolk, where he now writes, blogs, and walks his Shar-Pei dog. For some strange reason, he has never missed London at all, and has no desire to return to the city of his birth. Instead, he enjoys the silence and dark nights of a trouble free life in Beetley village. His blog can be found at beetleypete.wordpress.com

What’s your secret London tip?
Go south of the river to see some real history, away from the usual tourist hot spots

What’s your secret London place?
Highgate Cemetery

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Litter and chewing gum on the pavements

What’s your favourite building?
London University, Malet Sreet building. (Art Deco) Or Bibendum.

What’s your most hated building?
Royal College of Physicians, Albany Street, NW1. (Out of context)

What’s the best view in London?
From the middle of Waterloo Bridge, looking east

What’s your personal London landmark?
Tower Bridge (Unique!)

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
London. (1994) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110377/

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
The Grenadier, Wilton Row, SW1. (Tucked away)

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
Go to Greenwich. Visit the park, Observatory, Cutty Sark, and enjoy the views.

The London Grill: Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd-Rose

We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.

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[H]ENRY ELIOT AND MATT LLOYD-ROSE are old friends and co-wrote the book Curiocity: An Alternative A to Z of London, recently published in paperback. Henry likes mazes, maps, and literature and is the author of Follow this Thread: A maze book to get lost in. He is now the Creative Editor of Penguin Classics. Matt Lloyd-Rose has been a primary teacher, police officer and social researcher in London. He is the author of The Character Conundrum, a book about education, and is currently writing a book about the Met police.

What’s your secret London tip?
A reasonable number of people swim in the Hampstead bathing ponds through the summer. We recommend becoming a member of the Hampstead Mixed Pond winter swimming club and immersing yourself in its healing waters all year round. After your dip, the perfect place for a fry up is the Royal Cafe on Fleet Road.

What’s your secret London place?
We have seven secret London places. Hidden in our book Curiocity are six secret locations around the city, in each of which we’ve cemented a tile. When you combine the information on the six tiles you discover a password and the details of a final seventh location.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
We’re disappointed that the Thames no longer freezes over and, therefore, that huge Frost Fairs are no longer held on its surface.

What’s your favourite building?
Sir John Soane’s house, perhaps the most sublime and surprising place in London

What’s your most hated building?
The Walky Talky.

What’s the best view in London?
The view from upstairs in the Caffè Nero near Borough Market, down onto the deck of the replica Golden Hinde, across the Thames and over to the spires and towers of the City.

What’s your personal London landmark?
Oxleas Woods, southeast of Greenwich, where we went strolling ten years ago and first broached the idea of creating a new portrait of the city.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
Nairn’s London, a book about London’s architecture, that is, in fact, an extraordinary mediation on this remarkable city and the way that places affect people.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
The Bonnington Café, a former squat kitchen in Vauxhall, run on a rota by volunteer chefs.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
Walking the Coronation Ley Line from Arnold Circus to the Coronation Stone in Kingston-upon-Thames.