Crossroads is one of those success stories I love. Not to be confused with the crappy British soap opera of the same name, this is very much a bar – a bar for people who like bars.
Starting life at the height of the Covid pandemic, Crossroads was originally an underground speakeasy (read: converted toilet) where Camden Road meets Royal College Street. I have to declare some kind of an interest as I became a regular at the Camden original, having been introduced to me by my fellow professional imbibers at The Martini Club. But it’s perhaps more interesting to learn why I keep going back. From the start it has been an unerringly friendly hangout where regulars and staff are approachable and always remember you. You can just turn up like Norm in Cheers and be welcomed like an old friend. It takes a special dedication to hospitality to create such a community; as bartender Valentino (aka “Mr Campari”) once told me, “bars and restaurants should feel like going to someone’s home.” The name Crossroads is far more than just a reference to its original location but a place where people from different walks of life meet.
The key has always been great, reasonably priced cocktails. Led by Bart Miedeksza, all the bartenders are well versed in the classics and can turn their hands to Negronis, Aviations, Manhattans and Paper Planes as if they make them in their sleep. As for their house cocktails, there’s a deceptive simplicity; the customer may not realise the amount of work that goes into their development behind the scenes. Take for example the ‘Eucalyptus + Tonka’ which mixes mezcal, their own eucalyptus spirit and the essence of tonka bean, or the ‘Darjeeling’ which is a riff on a Martini with tea-based spirit, vermouth, jasmine and yuzu. For something surprisingly savoury, the ‘Tomato’ marries burnt butter gin, gazpacho, oak and smoked birch. Their clear ice blocks are themselves a metaphor for this vision.
In January 2023 they moved to Newington Green, joining neighbours Jolene and Perilla with a site which seems 300 times the size of the original. While those restaurants are great, if peckish there are now much more substantial food and cocktail pairing options in-house so you don’t even need to leave your seat at the bar. These include beef tartare with quince jam, lemon mayonnaise and crisps (£9), grilled hispi with sherry butter, mustard, onion sauce and scamorza (£8) and the inspired carrots with Angostura bitters (£7).
Whilst I will always have a soft spot for the old Camden site, in their opening week in Newington Green I was pleased to hear the same eclectic soundtrack, see the same great staff, enjoy the same great drinks (new inventions will follow soon), but above all to enjoy a new bar that felt like it had always been there. Its location might be slightly trickier than Camden Road but Canonbury station is just a 10 minute walk and, trust me, it’s worth the trek.
47 Newington Green
by J A Smith