Where shall we go for a few beers and cocktails this weekend? Here. Go here.

43 Exmouth Market

There are some things that the European Romance countries do better than anyone else, and certainly better than The British.


Smoking. When The British smoke they look like people who are worrying about that pregnant rain cloud on the horizon; people whose minds are fixated on the things coming up that they would rather not do. The people of these islands, more than any other nation, (with exception, perhaps, to the Chinese) make smoking look anxious. We are harassed smokers. The European Latins are not.

“The British, and especially the English, have a terrible habit of treating staff like staff.”

Sex. I’ve never made love to a European. This sentence not only sounds like the album title of an average female punk band but is also a true fact about myself. However, I can only imagine that the inhabitants of the countries across the channel are, on the whole, better between the sheets than the men and women of this soggy island. The British over-think sex; they bring a level of fretfulness to the bedroom that only a country obsessed with apologising and writing letters of complaint could do. Those gorgeous bronze Latins, I assume, do not.

Tattoos. The secret to a good tattoo is like any item of clothing: you need to wear it with casual confidence. The British do not do this; they get tattoos to show other people that they can, rather than for themselves. The whole thing becomes very self-conscious and everyone ends up looking like cage fighters, or racists, or strippers or bullied kids with a point to prove. None of which are good looks. Or they get them when they’re shitfaced. Classic British.

They also do bars better than us. Walk the streets of any European Romance city and you’ll find a bar to get drunk in; a place where you will be welcomed. Whether it be in Italy, where you are made to feel like a distant family member that everyone is thrilled to see; or in Spain, where you are understood as just another soul in need of a drink – sure, have a drink, they say. Want some food, want to dance? Do both or do neither, it’s fine either way. There is also less of a divide between staff and customer. The British, and especially the English, have a terrible habit of treating staff like staff – you are here to serve me, do a good job and you may get a tip out of it. The Latins make you feel like they are your friends who just happen to be serving you a drink. There is less of the awkward divide.

Photo by Lugo

Café Kick on Exmouth Market is a little vista of Western Europe. When you are drunk, the film of life becomes static. Certain frames will seem to last longer than those around them, time will slow down, and images will be burnt on to your retina. It is these images that you will be able to recall the next morning; flashes of clarity amidst the drunken haze. When you are in Café Kick and these moments occur – when you shift the focus of your eyes from the drink in your hand to the beautiful people walking through the hard wood and wrought iron front doors – then you could confuse them as having taken place in a little bar on some back alley of a hot, sultry city on the continent.

The drinks are good, the music is loud, and the atmosphere is friendly and flirtatious and cool above all else. The cocktails are all properly made, without being sold to you by some smarmy artisanal bartender fuck in braces and a waistcoat.

“We infuse the vodka with goat’s heart to make it more…”

I do not care, mate. Nobody does. Just put that booze in that glass and hand it to me. There’s none of that here. Just good drinks. The beers are also delicious and comparatively cheap for London. Also, and crucially for me, they are not sold to you by some child in a bobble hat who keeps telling you that it is brewed locally and has chocolate notes, and has some annoying name like The Milliners Catechism.

The music is dancing music, but there’s no shiny dancefloor where it’s all about looking as muscly/slutty as possible. You can just dance if you want to.

Do you like obvious statements? Here’s one: during the day, Café Kick is a café. It serves good coffee and sandwiches, and a few hot Portuguese dishes. None of this is fussed over. Again, I am putting it down to the European in them. Their coffee is not cold drip, their cocktails are not barrel aged, their beer is not craft – it’s all just really good; without the fucking self-congratulating fuss that pervades throughout many of London’s bars and restaurants.

I am not reviewing Café Kick because it is new (it really isn’t, been here since 1997). Nor am I reviewing it because it is the first carbon neutral bar in London, or because it is fully vegan, or has any other trendy point of difference (nothing against veganism, by the way. I’m all over that shit). Café Kick is none of the things mentioned before. The reason I am reviewing it is that it’s good. Because if you bother to read the socialite section of a magazine, chances are you want to be given a clue on A) where to go, and B) where not to go. Well, here is the clue: if you like a good bar, then go to Café Kick on Exmouth Market. Unless you are a wanker. In which case, don’t ruin my favourite place.


Jackson Palmer