Stoke Newington Church Street, London, N16. Photo © Roger Dean 2012
Dinners and Diners; Where and How to Dine in London – Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis, 1899:
YET another invitation to dine from an unknown friend, and this time with a tinge of mystery to give it piquancy. My would-be host offered to give me what he believed to be one of the cheapest obtainable dinners in London, as well as one of the most amusing; but as an introduction is required before any guest is able to use this dining-place, I was asked, should I describe it, to give no clue as to its whereabouts.
As I waited for my host at a club which happened to be not far from the district in which I was to dine, I had vague ideas that I might be blindfolded and conveyed to our destination in a four-wheeled cab, and that some bloodcurdling oath as to secrecy might be demanded of me. There was none of this. My host and I walked through a labyrinth of streets, and in due time, in an unpretentious locality, came to a wine-shop, the exterior of which somewhat resembled the good bottles of wine to be found within, in that it was dusty and had a suggestion of crust about it. Inside, the piles of bottles reaching up to the ceiling, seen in a half- light, had something of a Rembrandtesque effect.