Secret London: Unusual Bars and Restaurants by Rachel Howard, from Jonglez Publishing, showcases more than a hundred places with bizarre décor, eccentric owners, amazing food, and hard-to-find-locations. Ms. Howard, by the way, also co-authored Secret London: An Unusual Guide for the same publisher, which I reviewed here.
I have to confess that I was more than a bit skeptical when Secret London: Unusual Bars and Restaurants landed on my desk to review. The book is essentially a subgenre within a subgenre. It doesn’t just look at bars and restaurants from the standpoint of a tourist; it focuses on the unusual ones. Quite frankly, I was worried that Ms. Howard would not be able to find enough places that were truly interesting to fill an entire book.
Thankfully, I can now admit that my concerns were unfounded. Her book is 351 pages long with its index, and every one of her entries is fascinating. This is one of those books that truly make one want to travel to London and explore. From the subterranean opulence of Bobby’s Bar to the exotic nature of the India Club to the eclectic marvel of Platform, each of the entries in this guide is a one-of-kind treasure with a story like no other.
I also like the fact that the way that this book is laid out. The various bars and restaurants are grouped together by geographic location. However, the indices also enable a reader to find a particular cuisine or other interest quickly.
All of this combines to make Secret London: Unusual Bars and Restaurants a guide that people visiting London should have with them at all times.