Age: 12 years old. Unbelievably, this museum and library of medical artefacts and artworks opened as recently as 2007.
Where exactly is it? Almost directly opposite Euston station, next to the Quaker’s – also well worth popping into – and minutes from one of the best craft beer houses in London, the Euston Tap (although you do have to cross over the sea of traffic, so be careful).
OK. So what goes on there? In the building, nothing less than four floors of maximum noseying around. The library heaves with books, manuscripts, archives, films and pictures, while the Reading Room is a place to hang out and think, or lose yourself in the paintings of the alchemists.
What about the permanent display? Seasonal shows aside, the collection by founder Henry Wellcome (1853-1936), is fantastic: gawp at Victorian sex aids, unusual paintings (such as a man being hit on the head by a falling flowerpot), 13th century mummified male bodies and shrunken Peruvian heads. Elsewhere there’s work by Pablo Picasso, Gormley, and an unmissably haunting 1650 oil painting of Barbara Van Beck, a woman with a hirsute face.
I’m hungry now. what should I eat? You can scoff casual sarnies, quiche or salads downstairs, but our tip is to climb up to the much quieter Wellcome Kitchen, a table-service café and restaurant that’s open all day. On Thursdays it serves dinner too (as well as first Fridays of the month). Both are run by the longstanding group Benugo.
Talk us through things. There’s a simple menu without any starters – other than olives, bread and smoked almonds – so it’s best to dive straight in with a couple of mains. Socca (£11.50) is a type of thin, unleavened crêpe of chickpea flour originating in Genoa: fragrant and light, here it was served under a vegan stew of tomatoes, olives, chick peas and herbs, topped with a thick blob of cashew nut labneh. A rustic lamb hotpot (£13.50), less wintry than that sounds, offered tender, slow-cooked meat, soft haricot beans, kale and the textural crunch of herby chimichurri crumbs, with a hunk of bread to mop up the juices. Only observation? Some French mustard would have been nice. At least a tasty citrus dressing elevated our side salad’s bitter notes of endive and chicory.
Room for dessert? Absolutely, and ours proved a winner: a slice of raspberry, coconut and mango cake was moist, with a careful balance of acidity and sweetness.
The interior? It’s all high ceilings, grand windows over the distant main road below, parquet flooring, aquamarine walls and globe lighting – a little too bright in the evening. But it was full of a generally older crowd enjoying the relaxed, civilised atmosphere.
And what do I drink? Lots of tea-drinking was going on our visit, as well as the odd cheeky glass of wine. A bottle is sensibly-priced too for Zone 1, at around £20 for decent house red, or £5.50 a glass. A short cocktail list of Aperol Spritz, Bloody Mary and Mojito is on offer at £7.50, as well as fizz, beer, cider and soft drinks.
What’s the service like? Very courteous, and actually canteen-style swift. We hesitated over whether to order a bottle or not, but the mains came instantly so a glass of wine proved more than enough. And they were very apologetic about the lack of mustard.
Do say: “I know a nice little place high above the Euston Road…”
Don’t say: “Can I book a table on Saturday night?”