Opening just in time for Spring and Summer, Near and Far have opened their latest cocktail bar in Camden. Bringing utterly Instagrammable Californian vibes to North London, Near and Far is a cocktail bar that also has Mexican food from Elote. I was invited down with a gang from Love Pop Ups London to check out the latest addition to Near and Far’s stable. Read on to see what we got up to:
*Full disclosure, my food and drink at Near and Far Camden was free in return for this honest review*
Near and Far Camden – Cali vibes in North London
To say I was excited to visit the latest Near and Far bar near my home in Camden is an understatement. This place is going to be mental when it’s fully opened, with the roof terrace overlooking the Stables Market in hot demand all day.
We met Sarah and Kirsty, who explained a bit about their journey. The first Near and Far site was in Peckham levels in 2017. Since then they were approached by the Magic Roundabout to take over that. Inspired by the British TV series Only Fools and Horses and Del boys mini bar, they went with crazy wall paper and kitsch vibes. Near and Far is actually Cockney rhyming slang for bar (but also car – this could get confusing…)
Near and Far Camden only opened in March 2019 and the mix of tropical Palm Springs, faded 60’s grandeur was described as California meets Camden. So Mexican food works with this concept too, the food is all gluten free and can be made vegan also. This was important to them as Kirsty is gluten free and as Sarah doesn’t drink anymore, the focus on non-alcoholic options on the menu is also key. So Near and Far is inclusive – come with your vegan friends, your omnivores and those not drinking, everyone will still have a good time!
As already mentioned the vibe is California, Palm Springs. Lots of bright colours and kitsch, with an eclectic selection of furniture and objects d’art.
Downstairs private area for parties
I love this room downstairs, it can be reserved as a private area for parties and the drinks cabinet put to actual use for your drinks!
With the backdrop of my favourite kind – a hot pink neon sign – it has a Mad Men-esque era sofa and drinks cabinet as well as these fab hanging chairs:
Obligatory selfie in the hanging chair!
When I visited the roof terrace wasn’t quite finished. However you could see how the space was going to look when completed and it will be awesome.
With removable windows, they can open the terrace up to the air in the Summer, close them up and keep the chill off in the shoulder seasons. It will have sun all day apparently – so the perfect place to pop in for a coffee, some toastadas or a cocktail or two.
For sure the terrace will become the most coveted spot in Camden!
Cocktails & drinks
Near & Far is a very inclusive place – ensuring there is something for everyone to drink, even if they are not drinking. The focus on ensuring there are plenty of alcohol free options is refreshing and something to be applauded.
The cocktail menu, whilst small, is perfectly formed. I was pleased to see that they had a variation of my favourite cocktail – the negroni – on the menu:
Obviously once we had tested out the special cocktails on the menu, I also *had* to check their classic cocktail making skills. So I ordered a classic negroni:
Mexican food by Elote
This was the seriously good part that makes me want to come back again and drag my friends along!
Elote’s menu is more than just taco’s though. Alex started this Mexican pop up with a street food focus and they are currently rated 11 on TimeOut London street food rankings (and hoping to break into the top ten in 2019).
Currently the menu for Near and Far in Camden is still underdevelopment, but I was happy with the choices on offer:
We started out with nachos, fully loaded with sauces and cheese:
Then we were persuaded to have their namesake, Mexican corn = Elote:
This amazing corn on the cob, with cheese, chipotle and lime was brilliant! So tasty and a celebration of the Mexican tradition using corn (and naturally gluten free too).
Then we tried their two variations of ceviche:
The Yucatan ceviche was my favourite, but our group was split 50:50 with others preferring the more Mediterranean Spanish influenced one.
Next up we tried the toastada with tamarind crab:
The toastadas were kinda bite size (you needed to at least try and get most of it in your mouth!) and the tamarind crab worked really well with the avocado mix, nice fresh flavours. Alex let us in on a tip for making the best use of unripe avocados – simply blend them with cucumber and lime for a delicious way to eat!
We tried a selection of the tacos, including their grilled achiote marinated coley, the pulled pork and the braised beef short rib tacos:
Instead of focusing on a Californian fried battered fish taco, Alex was keen to try out grilling the fish. It works wonderfully with the achiote marinade, a light and tasty dish.
All the tacos were amazing, but I loved the grilled fish one and also pulled pork is always high up for me!
Sarah and Kirsty twisted our arms to try some additional dishes, despite being quite full from the tacos!
We tried the cumin roasted cauliflower with a walnut paste and tequila raisins, garnished with pomegranate and mint leaves. It was delicious and the kind of unusual, but tasty and filling food that I’m sure would delight vegans.
These chickpea chips were a revelation too:
Looks like regular fries? but it’s not!
The chickpea fries are kind of similar to polenta fries. The chickpeas are blended into a paste and set, before being cut up and fried. The high protein content ensures that the outside gets nice and crisp, whilst the middle remains soft. You have to try them to believe it!
Apparently they also have some desserts they are working on: a flourless chocolate cake with tequila sauce and Pedro Ximinez Jelly and a queso fresco ‘cheesecake’ using pumpkin seeds as the base and hibiscus.
Alex is very proud that they make everything from fresh – nothing is from a tin here. So they are always playing with the ingredients and coming up with new things. Keep your eyes peeled for seasonal menu changes.
Near and Far have hosted various themed brunches at their other sites, so keep your eyes peeled for something similar in Camden.
They have also set up several nights with various musicians, including a monthly Friday night residency with Birdland Kissa presenting a mixture of soul, funk and jazz. Check out the full listings on the Near and Far Facebook page.
I think Near and Far is a great edition to the Camden scene! With plenty of events going on, this bar is going to be popping. I certainly can’t wait for them to organise their themed brunches.
I will also be dragging my friends here for Mexican food and cocktails, and I’m certain you’ll have to pry me away from that roof terrace come Summer!
Big thanks to the ladies for hosting us and to Love Pop Ups London for organising this opportunity.
Find Near and Far Camden here:
48 Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AJ (nearest tube is Chalk Farm, but you can also walk up from Camden Town underground station):
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