Our 'Italian Job' Food Tour in a DriveNow Mini Cooper

Written by: Sophie Taylor

(Kindly sponsored by DriveNow)

We took a sexy DriveNow MINI Convertible out for a food tour of North London and boy, did we blow out our kites! 

It’s a bit of a rare treat to find yourself inside an actual automobile in London (such wanton lavishness!) so we took full advantage of the opportunity and nipped about the northern corner of the city the Italian Job way (if Michael Caine had a DriveNow app, his car was electric and he had SatNav, that is).  As prevalent tube users, more accustomed to waving an oyster card about than a set of car keys, we were buoyant at the idea of pootling around in a vehicle that would take us directly to our destination – with not even a whiff of an inebriated city worker. No passive aggressive tutting, no bewildered looks from strangers who we dared to smile weakly at. Blazer on and leather gloves primed we were Charlie on the big job, chasing our food dream around a sunny Finsbury Park, Muswell Hill, Tufnell Park and Crouch End.

Stop One: Breakfast
The Front Room Cafe – Finsbury Park

It’s a very difficult job

Our first port of call is The Front Room Cafe, of course. It’s arguably the best place for breakfast in Finsbury Park, but the calibre is incredibly high round here so it’s a close call. Having not had our usual triple espresso yet and feeling particularly uninspired, we ordered the first thing on the menu: the aptly named Front Room Breakfast. A big plate of Cumberland sausage, bacon, poached egg, mushrooms, hash brown and beans with buttered toast is all you can ask for in this life really isn’t it? Oh sweet beans, what an appetite quencher it was. After eyeing up the local artist’s work on the walls, listening to the jazz being piped out of the speakers and brazenly stealing their free WiFi, our MINI Convertible, glistening in the sunlight, called out to us through the window… You’ve got a job to do! Onwards Charlie!

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Stop Two: Brunch
The Haberdashery – Crouch End 

Put your gloves on

Our handsome devil of a driver, Steve, suddenly starts swiping on his phone like he’s finding a Tinder date for the afternoon. He’s only bloody using the DriveNow ‘car filter’ he claims, because he’s a picky man and doesn’t have time to suffer lesser automobiles. He explains that simply by opening the DriveNow app you can locate the nearest available car in your area. You can always use the map on the app, because “what if your favourite model has just become available around the corner? Even if you have already reserved a DriveNow car, the map provides you with an overview of all the cars that are available.” Jeez. What is this world we live in? It’s all just sitting on a plate for us lucky buggers. Speaking of plates, I’m hungry again.

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Once Steve has settled on an even sexier model (a shiny, upgraded Mini with tumbling hair waiting on a street corner for us to swing by) we zoom over to The Haberdashery in Crouch End for brunch. Because who says brunch should be eaten instead of breakfast and lunch? Not I, that’s who! We knew we’d be satiated at the Haberdashery, it’s well known locally for its fresh, seasonal ingredients, wickedly runny eggs and coffee that’s smoother than a Boyz II Men slow jam. Owners Greg and Massimo are an incredibly welcoming team with an absolute showdown of a brunch menu. It’s worth going for the kitchenware and furnishings alone.

We plumped for a classic Cappuccino and bacon bap combo with extra sauce ooh matron. Simple grub with pleasingly pillowy bread, perfectly cooked rashers and just the right amount of real butter. The veggie options are raved about too, as are the Eggs Benedict and the thick cut French toast (with cinnamon-y banana, maple syrup and the option to add sausage or bacon), so don’t just take our porky word for it, get down there! There’s also a Stoke Newington branch, so grab a DriveNow car and take your pick. 

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Stop Three: Lunch
Chriskitch – Muswell Hill

Charlie, I just wanted you to come out in style, baby.

Chriskitch is a stylish little restaurant neatly tucked away on a residential street in Muswell Hill, hiding behind a curtain of trees and Disney-esque birds. Their ‘food philosophy’ (this is definitely a thing, we Googled it) is to make their guests feel as though they have walked into a family home to share a meal around a dining table. Entering the restaurant you do sort of feel like you’ve just got home and some generous family member has cooked for the whole of your extended family and you’re all happy about it and there’s no arguing and Aunt Fanny doesn’t give your mum side eyes when everyone raves about your mum’s Victoria sponge. Sigh. 

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Using all fresh ingredients, the menu is constantly evolving and changes daily, which keeps things interesting and downright tasty. We plumped for their potatoes with mustard, capers, red onion, dill and gherkins, alongside a healthy portion of spinach pasta with toasted mixed seeds. Our delectable carb festival was served upon a curvy slab of wood and washed down with the creamiest of one shot lattes. Full to the brim!

Still, our medley of breakfast, brunch and lunch was no match for our photographer Mike, who despite a belly full of beans, bacon and potato-pasta, managed to jump over the doors and into the backseat of our open-top MINI like a pro. Time for another spin!

Stop Four: Dinner
Korova – Tufnell Park

Well, I hope he likes spaghetti. They serve it four times a day in the Italian prisons.
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It was time to get down with some award winning munch. Korova in Tufnell Park won a Time Out Love London Award 2015, and with good reason. We’re switching film references here for a second, as any Kubrick (or indeed Anthony Burgess) fans may have spotted, this retro cafe-by-day and restaurant/cocktail bar-by-night is named after the Korova Milk Bar in A Clockwork Orange. Welly well well, you might not find any horrorshow drugs in your milk here, but you will stumble upon some incredibly chic dishes boasting the likes of salmon ceviche, black truffle risotto and Côte de Boeuf with confit garlic to rattle off a few. Add a Virgin Mary or some auto-themed cocktails to your bill (The Sidecar, explosive mix of Courvoisier, Cognac, and Cointreau, would render me passenger-side for a week) and you’ll leave a little lighter of pocket, but it’s entirely worth it. Best to go in the evening as the lunch menu isn’t quite as exciting, according to the locals. Oh and driving whilst drinking is for complete idiots, so stick to their soft drinks or opt to leave your DriveNow car parked up in Tufnell Park and cab it home instead.

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The DriveNow tagline is Find It, Drive It, Drop It. Which really feeds into my dating app fixation and makes me want to download the app just to swipe right on a Bimmer, have one whirlwind spin around the block and then ignore that chatty SatNav forever more. It was a one time thing my sweet four wheeler, next time I’m choosing a different model… the BMW i3 perhaps.

Fancy playing the field and flitting around North London in a hot MINI Convertible or BMW like us? Whether it’s for your boring ass supermarket shop or a food based heaven ride, DriveNow has a nifty little app for you to track down your favourite car of choice when you’re on the go. Once reserved you can see your car’s fuel gauge or, if you’re going to get futuristic, the electric car’s battery charge. What is this, 2050? Bloody hell. 

DriveNow is offering free registration exclusively for North Four readers! Hooray! Now you can start planning your own food tour with EVEN MORE stops (Afternoon tea perhaps? Elevensies?).

Look out for more fun and frolics with our DriveNow North London Cultural Tour coming soon.

Photos Mike Barry

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