For a publisher based on Broadway, New York, The Little Bookroom seems obsessed with the pockets of oddness that permeate our city. A few years back, they published City Secrets London, a bumper book of anecdotes about the capital. Their latest guide The Traditional Shops and Restaurants of London does exactly what it says on the tin. Literally, given the vintage canister that forms the jacket design.
The 300-page book is about the size and shape of a Pret Ham & Eggs bloomer, but celebrates the wares of far more established retailers.
More than a hundred shops are described, from Savile Row tailors to Brick Lane bagelmongers. All sumptuously illustrated by photographer Phil Nicholls.
Even the most ardent Londonophile can learn a thing or two between its covers. Hitherto, we felt rather smug pointing out James Smith & Sons, New Oxford Street, which sells little but umbrellas. But one umbrella shop is not enough; this book has a whole section. The author has done her homework. She even mentions the secret passage beneath Berry Brothers & Rudd, which we thought was our little secret. Hmphhh.
This could have ended up being just another repackaged slice of lesser-known London. But the visible research and high production values make this a choice cut of Londonophilia, as rich as anything from Mayfair butchers Allen & Co.
The Traditional Shops and Restaurants of London, RRP £9.99 from The Little Bookroom.