London, like all cities, has a copious amount of worst and best kept secrets. One of the greatest thrills comes from finding one that you can introduce others to. Amongst your friends you become the gatekeeper for hidden and exotic mysteries, discovering areas of interest that aren’t as well-known. It makes me think of being able to sift through bland grains of sand and knowing exactly where to find the treasured fossil. This is what my friend unexpectedly did with me on a recent meet-up in London.
After a day of touring the vast complex of the city’s streets and attractions, my friend decided to
treat me to a meal from the Spitalfields branch of The Breakfast Club opposite Liverpool station. As a student I never object to a free meal as a matter of principle, and entered the restaurant with an
eager appetite. The decor was by no means intimidating – a glowing red heart pierced with a sword
that had the words ‘sex, drugs and bacon rolls’ emblazoned across it was wreathed across a polished oak wall. The burger I ordered was satisfyingly greasy and welcome, with mounds of crisp sweet potato fries making for a tasty sidekick. Before you stop reading to satisfy any sudden feelings of hunger after that last sentence, this is where things become a little more unusual.
Whilst enjoying a conversation with my friend, he calls the waitress to our table and asks her
whether we can ‘speak to the mayor of scaredy cat town’ after the meal. Naturally I wondered
whether he had been secretly ordering vodka doubles in his lemonade, yet the waitress smiled and
told us that she’d be back in ten minutes. Needless to say I was very confused at this point. My
friend managed to sustain the air of mystery until the waitress returned and led us to the bar. A
large fridge was positioned next to the bar which the waitress clicked opened and to my surprise, I
saw a corridor.
The walls were bathed in a dim red light and the sound of mellow jazz music was
seeping from below into the corridor. I followed my friend and the waitress through the fridge,
trying to work out whether I was being led to Narnia or a dungeon, and we descended a flight of
steps. The sight at the end of the passage made me gasp audibly.
A secret bar, hidden below The Breakfast Club restaurant, lay before me. Men were playing pool,
ladies were sipping cocktails tinged with red and orange, jazz music spewed from the grate of the
jukebox and booths were occupied by parties enjoying freshly mixed drinks. I turned to see the
welcome sign dangling from the door that read, ‘The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town Secret Bar’. My
friend later explained that only those who knew the passcode to give to the waiting staff were
allowed into this concealed corner of the city. He proudly told me that he took his girlfriend there on a first date, which I personally thought to be a fantastic idea. This left a great memory and reminded
me that there are secrets in every city to be harvested and enjoyed with your family and friends.