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So we wandered down Greek Street. Soho was even more crowded than usual as seemingly every Londoner was there, getting merry on a Wednesday. Norman, now 92, still comes in every other Wednesday to collect the new Private Eye the magazine holds its legendary fortnightly lunches at the Coach.

A bit further up Greek Street is the Pillars of Herculesanother classic boozer stemming back maybe as far asthat made everyone very nervous when it closed last February for refurbishment — a word that rarely bodes well for a pub.

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Now, the outside looks the same — the with the bare-chested Hercules pushing those pillars is still swinging — but alas, inside the floor is no longer sticky and neither is the air. As efforts to turn Soho into another Mayfair in the s failed, it became a village of bohemians, writers, troublemakers and immigrants.

This was the place for rockers, teddy boys, skiffle fans, Mods, Punks and New Romantics. Greek Street was first mentioned by its current name intaking its name from a Greek church from on Hog Lane now Charing Cross Road whose main entrance faced Greek Street — immigrants French, Italian, Jewish, Greek and more were plentiful in Soho at the time. The air smells like beer, cooking grease, soy sauce, and piss. Casanova is said to have lodged at 47 and Thomas De Quinceywho wrote Confessions of an English Opium-Eateris said to have stayed at Shrimplin says the area still has a clubby vibe to it, but there are far fewer live venues and Crossrail has been challenging — he refers to the loss of the Astoria to make room for a Crossrail station on top of Dean Street.

Soho is a living, working part of London, and change is inevitable. Iconic Soho deli Lina Storeswhich has been trading from Brewer Street sinceopened a restaurant on Greek Street last spring at the site of the old Trattoria Da Aldowhich had been there for 42 years. Also on Greek Street is Maison Bertauxprobably the oldest French patisserie in London, established in when Paris Commune-supporter Monsieur Bertaux fled with a handful of recipes. The curated selection changes constantly, but the staff knows every one.

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When I visited, Greek Street was packed — Soho before Christmas is just like Soho in summer — and my boyfriend and I had to queue to get into Bibimbap at 11 for a nice, cheap Korean dinner in burning hot stone bowls. The Greek Street pubs were as rammed as the Tube in rush hour, but none of that busyness followed us down into The Vault — this is seated drinking only.

The easy atmosphere with low lighting and quiet-ish music, coupled with table service, was a welcome reprieve from the world outside. The top end of Greek Street is full of music and entertainment history, some of which is long gone.

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The windows were swagged in oceans of red velvet curtains … there were discarded G-strings, used condoms, plastic chandeliers — all the tawdry remnants of a former strip club. House of MinaLima at 26 is a Greek Street newcomer. The showroom for graphic de duo Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima is primarily dedicated to the Harry Potter franchise, and the building had been a popup venue before the House of MinaLima opened ininitially as a temporary exhibition. I always feel at home when I come here. This village spirit did mean that, at first, Mina was a little concerned about possibly threading on toes — other businesses had been there for so long.

Mina is a fan of the Japanese Knife Company at eight, a shrine to knives with 2, blades to choose from — this is a destination shop for people who mean business. You technically need a membership, but the details around this are vague. There were no windows and the walls were covered in photos of Sinatra, Bogart, boxers, footballers and regulars, with an out-of-place disco ball providing some questionable sparkle. The cheap plonk was unremarkable but you bet I was charmed. On her record cover, it said Florence Joelle: Life is beautiful if you let it.

If we are lucky, and if we take care to protect it, Soho and Greek Street will stay beautiful, and delightfully shit, for a while longer. Follow Jessica Furseth on Twitter. Enjoyed this article? Like Huck on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Share this Alistair Choat.

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Lady in red dress last frontier bar

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