Our city is suffocating under a polyester blanket of chain everything. Eavesdrop on lost newcomers trying to get their bearings – “I can see a Tesco Metro, a Costa, a Paddy Power and a fried chicken shop.” Good luck with that one, Babe: Pig in the City. We stand by and watch, as behemoths take over, secretly thrilled by the prospect of individually vacuum-packed peppers. But Q Tip said it, Joni Mitchell never lies, and we really won’t know what we’ve got ’til it’s gone. A spaceship-sized Tesco has landed right in the heart of Woolwich, instantly quashing small businesses. Local favourite, The Blue Nile Café, has taken the evolve or be extinct approach. What was once the local greasy spoon has been transformed by the owner and her architect son and daughter-in-law into a charming specialist Eritrean-Italian spot (yes, that really is a thing). They have renovated the space, pulling down partition walls and unearthing tiles and railings that tell tales of the building’s past. The home-cooked delicacies range from Italian coffees and ice creams to meat stews infused with cardamom and cinnamon. It is a magical space where you can while away luxurious hours, safe in the knowledge that you are keeping Joni Mitchell’s dream alive.
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