300 Charing Cross Road

Charing Cross Road

Charing Cross Road

Good Friday, Bank holiday so Virgin trains aren’t running to Euston. With some misgivings I headed for the old Moor Street Station and the slow train to London. The station concourse was heaving with people but I asked for help and got it in the form of a retired member of the Fire Service. In no time at all I was safely seated and on my way. Once again, helpful, if slightly eccentric service.

At Marylebone, son was waiting with the excellent suggestion that we head for Gaby’s in Charing Cross Road. If you look carefully at the photograph above you might just be able to make it out on the right hand side.

Gaby’s is an institution in our family. It is a tiny Middle Eastern deli close to Trafalgar Square which tends to go unnoticed by tourists and has been there ever since I can remember.

Probably the original plastic tables are still there, crammed into an unlikely space, the toilet facilities have improved over the years and there are more autographed photographs of actors on the walls but little else has changed.

In the window mouth-watering dishes are displayed. Colourful spinach and chick peas, crispy falafels, red peppers and black aubergines, olives of every kind, kebabs, stuffed tomatoes..an ever changing assortment.

Son read the menu to me as an appetiser and we went to the counter where we chose exactly what we wanted from the delicious display. Back at the table, we squeezed our way into our seats and ate and gossiped our way through our plates of spicy delectation not to mention big glasses of red wine. This was a special treat for me and all made possible because Gaby’s has received a stay of execution from the developers who want to modernise Charing Cross Road. Who would swap this eccentric little cafe for a big bland, Starbucks?

We staggered out of Gaby’s, past the remaining bookshops and into Soho and the Algerian Coffee Store on Old Compton Street. This is another institution. A tiny shop packed with all kinds of tea and coffee, pots and grinders, smelling wonderful and always full of customers.

I wonder how long the private landlords will be able to avoid the faceless developers to keep the rents low enough to allow these gems of London to exist. I love passing on these special places to the next generations. Do you have any family favourites like these? I would love to hear about them.


Listened on audible

Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens narrated by Martin Jarvis. Excellent and very contemporary analysis of mob rule during the French Revolution which seems apposite today.

The Universe versus Alex Woods, Gavin Extence, read by Joe Thomas…funny and moving

Read on Kindle

My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferante..totally lives up to its hype. This is the story of two little girls, Lila and Elena, growing up in a violent and impoverished district of Naples. Both highly intelligent and competitive.

Story of a New Name, Elena Ferrante..a continuation of the story of Lila and Elena …loved it

Note…I try to keep comments on AOB short on the assumption that anyone interested can follow up the subjects for themselves. I have decided against including links as the formats I have to use all lead back to Amazon. However, I have had feedback asking for fuller descriptions of books and films. I don’t want to get into full reviews but could put in more information. What do you think?

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9 Responses to 300 Charing Cross Road

  1. Nordie says:

    I dont think you need to do full reviews, but there were three books I’ve never heard of (“Story..”, “My new friend…” “The Universe…”, so perhaps something about why you picked them/how you heard of them (make it a personal thing). “continuation of the story of Lila and Elena”…what was the previous book called?

  2. heavenali says:

    Oh I love the sound of Gaby’s the kind of food I love. I read My Brilliant Friend loved it too, currently reading The Story of a new name.

  3. I must visit this place the next time I can holiday in London. Soungs great.
    And I couldn’t help but be reminded of a fav book when I read the post title…84 charging cross road, have you read it?
    More info within the AOB sounds good to me!

  4. Good! Maybe I would be able to take you there! Of course, 84 Charing Cross Road is one of my favourites and on the same side of the road as Gaby’s but I don’t know if it is still there. Will look next time I am there and let you know. Glad you like it as well..

  5. Liz Dexter says:

    Can’t believe I’ve never been to Gaby’s – must go next time I’m down! I love Any Amount of Books on CX Road – always find something on their £1 shelves outside!

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