Bar Italia

I've an absurdly sentimental attachment to this place, that germinated years before I ever went there - some time around '95. I was in the throws of a teenage love affair with Pulp, and armed with the chord book to Different Class I taught myself how to play guitar learning every single chord on those hallowed pages. Even though I had never yet to experience the post-midnight/early morning crash, yet to be turned away from G-A-Y Late for being too drunk, yet to discover the joys of Garlic & Shots, I used to love playing a vigorous rendition of Bar Italia when I thought no one was listening. I took immense pleasure in belting out the climatic "there's only one place we can go, it's round the corner, it's Soho... where other broken people go". At the time I had no clue as to what Soho was, but part of me subconsciously understood that I would eventually spend quite a bit of time there. If it was good enough for Jarvis, it would undoubtedly suit me. Of course, I don't know if the place Mr Cocker sang about is the same one that I occassionally frequent, because it's fucking expensive. Having a song dedication on an era-defining album, I can't help but blame Pulp for making it a tourist destination. But it's neither here nor there, because I've never been to Bar Italia before midnight, or sober. So in terms of actually reviewing the place, it's got loud music telly, Italian trappings, mirrors, inhabitants of Soho and it's not really a bar.

An espresso costs about £2.50, but in reality you just empty your pocket change and hope for the best.

Bar Italia, 22 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4RP