Polished act

CAFE SOCIETY
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Indy Lifestyle Online
It's strange how some parts of London seem to develop wormholes down which all the places to meet are sucked only to emerge in Soho. Holborn is one: a place where thousands of people work, thousands more go to university and yet more have meetings, and yet where getting a drink or a snack is almost an impossibility. A short hop up the wind-tunnel of High Holborn from the Tube, however, is Little Turnstile, an alleyway that you would never spot unless someone told you, where you will find Na'zdrowie, the Polish Bar, nestled in a triangular room that looks like what must have been a greasy spoon at some point in its existence.

This is one of those places that contrives to be both odd and beguiling at the same time: decor a combination of lime and that green they paint mental hospitals with in a bid to reduce the number of suicides, the only obvious sign that the provenance might be Polish being the enormous flag painted across the whole of the back wall. Background music seems to be unadulterated Eighties disco, and everything is, well, rather clean and shiny for something with Eastern European links. And yet it's one of those places where you can settle in for a really good evening on the beer and shots (they have a startling array of vodka, from Bison to Goldwasser, from pounds 1.50-pounds 2 a hit).

Partly, possibly, because of its position in a dead zone, Na'zdrowie pulls both a healthy crowd and one that you can't pin down: after-workers who arrive in suit jackets and leave, red-faced, five hours later in shirt- sleeves, late-crowd students who arrive around nine and add to the brashness of the decor with bare midriffs, even the odd figure in DJ and spangles, on their way, presumably, to something else; God forbid that they'd dress like that for a normal night on the lash.

This is a serious drinkers' hangout: despite ample opportunity to line stomachs with huge plates of herring, bigos, borscht, sausage, rye bread and cabbagey things at a gratifying average of pounds 4 a plate, hardly anyone seems to take the opportunity; when we over-ordered and produced plates of leftovers, this rejection was greeted almost with heartbreak by staff who obviously slave for small gratification.

Drink a pint of milk before you go out, make the cook's day by eating something, and you can feel wonderfully superior as you watch other people lose their way en route to the exit.

Na'zdrowie, 11 Little Turnstile, WC1 (0171-831 9679)

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