Our new series, TOAST Guides, highlights unique haunts across the UK, from farm-to-table eateries to scenic walking routes. For the first instalment, we explore the best dining, arts and cultural destinations in and around King’s Cross, London.
A centuries-old place of transit, passed through by thousands each day, King’s Cross is home to a number of creative spaces. When Coal Drops Yard opened to the public in 2018, it transformed the area; a flurry of independent galleries, one-of-a-kind retailers and experimental restaurants moved into the former coal store, establishing it as a cultural centre in the heart of the capital. Next time you’re waiting to catch a train, or have wound your way to King’s Cross in search of a thought-provoking sojourn, consider stopping by the following sites.
Known as ‘the garden of a thousand hands’, Global Generation’s educational project aims to reconnect city dwellers with nature. Story Garden is made up of an orchard, a small oak forest, and soil beds for the local community to grow herbs, vegetables and flowers. There are also classes and workshops on-site, including twilight gardening sessions, which nurture an understanding of where food comes from.
Ossulston Street, London NW1 1DF
Blending nostalgic Taiwanese flavours with contemporary cuisine, BAO serves up rice plates, tea snacks and bubble tea in its bright wood-panelled restaurant. The ingredients used are thoughtfully sourced; noodles are made using flour imported from Taiwan and dishes centre around Chi Shang rice, reaped from the Taitung County where the waterways are pure and the land gives the grain a distinctive flavour.
Unit 2, 4 Pancras Square, London N1C 4DP
A TOAST Festive Market
In a celebration of creativity and craftsmanship this festive season, we will host a festive market at Coal Drops Yard. Every Thursday through Sunday between 16 November and 17 December, a collection of unique gifts handcrafted by our community of makers will be available, alongside TOAST gifting and festive decorations. There will be a changing programme of makers each weekend, from jewellery designers Corrie Williamson and Sally Lacock and ceramic artists Bert Jones and Grace McCarthy to leather workers Kate Sheridan and Francli Craftwear. On Sat 2 December, join us for a programme of festive events at creative hub Kiosk N1C.
A TOAST Festive Market, Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, London N1C 4LW
Word on the Water
There are countless bookshops in London, but none quite as unique as Word on the Water. The floating book barge can be found on Regent’s Canal, beside Granary Square, where a varied range of fiction and non-fiction titles fill every spare nook. Visitors are often treated to live music as they browse the selection, and poetry performances take place on board from time to time.
Regent's Canal Towpath, London N1C 4LW
This charity-funded gallery is a celebration of contemporary Arab art and culture. Providing visibility for creatives worldwide, P21 curates frequent photography, textile and mixed-medium exhibitions. The space also hosts relevant film screenings, workshops and lectures, and offers a residency programme for emerging and student artists.
21-27 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD
Designed by gardener and landscaper Dan Pearson, Bagley Walk is an urban pathway lined by a rich variety of plants, thoughtfully chosen to reestablish biodiversity in the area. Look out for sprouting liquorice, strawberries and figs as you walk the elevated route, built on an old railway viaduct, and enjoy views of the canal along the way.
King’s Cross, London N1C 4PQ
This understated vinyl store fits an impressive number of records into its compact space, stocking albums across all genres but with a particular focus on blues, jazz and reggae. Founded in 1974 on Portobello Road, Honest Jons now runs its own label and is considered a key player in London’s music scene. In addition to its hand-picked selection of rare LPs and knowledgeable staff, the retailer also organises monthly DJ nights, workshops and live performances.
Unit 115, Stable Street, London N1C 4DR
Hosting folk music festivals, classical concerts and live podcasts, independently-funded arts centre King’s Place is driven by a belief that culture is a fundamental contributor to a thriving city. The venue champions creatives of all backgrounds and is a proud member organisation of Black Lives in Music and Keychange, two movements working towards equality in the music industry.
90 York Way, London N1 9GE
Discover well-crafted and uncommon objects at this Coal Drops Yard design store. A reflection of the owners’ close relationship with artists and makers around the world, the curation of coffee table books, Japanese ceramics and surreal art prints is rooted in the concept play. Founders Kenjiro and Emete Kirton also own an independent publishing house, Hato Press, which is based between London and Hong Kong.
Unit 117, Lower Stable Street, London N1C 4DR
Words by Bébhinn Campbell.
Image 1: BAO, King's Cross. Photography by Ash James.
Image 2: Qareen by Adnan Samman, courtesy of P21 Gallery.
Image 3: Story Garden, photography by Manal Massalha.
Image 4: Photography courtesy of P21 Gallery.
Image 5: Hato Store, photography by Hannah Claydon.
Image 6: Ensemble with Elena Tonra at King's Place. Photography by Viktor Erik Emanuel.