First impressions of Finsbury Park aren’t forgiving – men on benches rambling about loves lost and run-down shops with closed shutters at midday don’t make an attractive picture of an area. And the rule that train stations are dodgy definitely applies here.
But there’s far more to this area. Get two minutes’ walk away from the station and things relax. The city landscape is mottled with gastropubs, independent restaurants and pattisseries. And now the station area is getting a much-needed facelift – set to be finished in 15 years – estate agents actually can call it ‘up and coming’.
To anyone put off moving to the area because of its dangerous image, Amanpreet Singh, from Ludlow Thompson estate agents in Blackstock Road, says: “Come and check it out. It may have a reputation, but it’s nothing like what people think it is. More people are moving here because it’s affordable but there’s also a lot of money coming in with new flats being built.”
Like many areas tagged with the ‘up and coming’ label, Finsbury Park has working-class roots. But now it’s attracting more and more young professionals and students in their twenties.
Aside from the fact that it’s still dirt-cheap to live there, why is Finsbury Park getting so popular? Gary Anderson, from Michael Morris estate agents in Blackstock Road, says: “It’s not one of anything. It’s very mixed – the restaurants, the shops, the people – and people really like that. And once they’ve moved here, people generally tend to stay longer.”
Finsbury Park residents are spoiled for transport. Being slap-bang on the Victoria and Piccadilly lines, it’s easy to get to the city centre, and there are also trains out of London, to places such as Bedford and Cambridge, and, crucially, to Luton Airport, for escapes to sunnier spots.
When you’re spending your weekends closer to home, there’s the sprawling Finsbury Park and Gillespie Park for jogging, plus plenty of pubs to reward yourself in after work. The Faltering Fullback in Perth Road is the most talked-about, with its three-tier outdoor decking, TV for sports and live music on Sundays.
Stroud Green Road has its foodie gems. Ozay Has, from Future Homes, on the same street, says: “There’s a pizza place called Pizzeria Pappagone, which has been there for years and there’s Petek Turkish restaurant, which is always full.”
The critics’ choice is the constantly packed Dotori for cheap Korean and Japanese food, and the chilled-out, French-run Boulangerie Bon Matin on Tollington Park is the perfect place to read the papers with a delicious coffee and flaky patisserie goodies.