When I first moved up to the bright lights of London many years ago, my new home was a shared house in Tufnell Park with a group of strangers. I was persuaded to take the room by the advert's promise of my very own roof terrace; a description that turned out to be somewhere between a wild exaggeration and a downright lie. The 'terrace' was in fact the rickety, felted roof of the room below, accessible only to a tiny pixie able to squeeze out of the narrow window.
However my time living here was worth it for two reasons: firstly, because the strangers became good friends, some of whom I'm still close to today, and secondly for its proximity to Spaghetti House, directly opposite Tufnell Park tube station, which quickly became my new favourite restaurant.
I can hear you thinking "Why is Dan blogging about a bland, mid-range Italian chain that isn't even as good as Bella Pasta?" But you've got the wrong end of the stick, as this wasn't part of the chain of the same name, but a tiny cafe/restaurant started by an Italian chef newly arrived in London in 1976. It served delicious, generous portions of Italian favourites at bargain prices, my favourite being the egg mayonnaise starter for £3. Opening hours were completely erratic and unpredictable - if the owner/chef was on holiday, ill or simply didn't feel like going to work that day, it didn't open - but this only added to its charm.
Kate and I had several of our early dates there, and in a recent bout of reminiscing decided we should go back there again. After picking up a bottle of wine from the off-license (it's BYO) we walked in and were pleased to notice that nothing seemed to have changed at all in the years since we last visited - green gingham everywhere and a mural of a fishing village on the wall that could almost have you believing you were somewhere Mediterranean as long as you were facing away from the window.
I was delighted to note that the egg mayonnaise was still on the menu and still priced at an inflation-defying £3, and immediately ordered it, followed by spaghetti carbonara. Kate went for scallops followed by king prawns, and we finished it off with coffees and cheesecake (me) and ice cream with meringues (Kate). The food was all delicious, was served quickly by friendly waitresses, and the total bill for our three courses was £39. We left vowing to come back more often.
Do pop in for dinner if you live nearby, or even if you don't - it's worth travelling for. It may not have changed since the 70s but that's no bad thing in my book, and I highly recommend it.