Petersham Nurseries A lovely restaurant in an unusual garden setting near Richmond Park. Well-made, appealing, seasonal food. Hard to get a res. Skye Gyngell was the owner and chef for a long time but departed last year. A late Sunday lunch is fantastic (it’s lunch only). Take the Underground District or Picadilly line to Hammersmith and walk along the river tow path and across the meadow to the restaurant.
The River café A very popular and chic restaurant in Hammersmith, outer London. Expensive, but you can keep it down by ordering carefully. Joe Trevelli is the chef and a good friend. Plz say hello to him from me. There’ll be celebrities. Last I was there, so was Mick Jagger, Colin Firth, and Chloé Sevigny. J
Dock Kitchen Just about my favorite restaurant in London, owned by a good friend, Stevie Parle. He’s the golden boy of the UK scene at the moment. A great and interesting location on Portobello Docks, at the top of very intriguing Golborne Road where it meets Regent’s Canal, in a Portuguese-Islamic ghetto. On the packed bus back to Maida Vale not a word of English was spoken. It was brilliant. Kind of a must.
Towpath Café Probably the funnest and cutest “restaurant” in London (if you go there, you’ll see why I use parentheses), along the Regent’s Canal in East London, a short walk west of the Saturday Broadway Market. It’s cheap and quite good. Lori De Mori is a friend who owns it with her husband, well-known food photographer Jason Lowe. Their family barely hold the little place together. March to November only. Go on a warm, sunny day.
Moro A hip place on very cool Exmouth Market, in Farringdon, East London. Really good food, excellent bread, very busy. Once when I was stting near the bar and their phone, they just let it ring and ring and ring without answering or even looking in its direction. Why bother, right? Sam and Sam Clark are the owners. Please say hello.
The original St. John Restaurant and Bar is always delicious and not noisy and oppressive and crowded the way St. John Bread and Wine can be. St. John Bakery is making some of the best bread in London.
Fernandez & Wells Three shops in Soho, one down the block and two around the corner. Hip, cool, well done, very good coffee at the Beak St. location; the shop on Lexington sells their main products; St. Annes is a café and wine bar. Worth a stop in, mos def.
Polpo, a jamming place on Beak St. in Soho, overpopulated with too-cool-for-you thirty-somethings. The food is very good, though, despite the volume and the vibe.
Pierre Koffmann is back in town but I’ve never made to his new place, Koffman’s, at the Berkeley Hotel in toney Knightsbridge. It would be worth a visit to see if his pied de cochon aux ris de veau et morilles is as it was at La Tante Claire in the old days. Tante Claire was one of my favorite restaurants ever and in my opinion the pied de cochon is one of the most spectacular dishes ever conceived. Every London chef of note or fame worked for him at one time, from Batali to Marco Pierre White. If Escoffier is the trunk of the London culinary tree, Koffman’s the main branches.
I had an excellent meal of classic French and English dishes at Scott’s, in Mayfair: lobster bisque, sweetbreads à l’ancienne, herring milts on toast, a 1/2 liter of good Beaujolais Villages – and I recommend it highly for that particular kind of food. I've had other meals there that were very good, but that particular one was outstanding, and I think it was on my birthday!
Marylebone Market A nice Sunday organic market just off Marylebone High Street at Moxon Street. I used to walk there every weekend to get provisions. Off the southeast end of the parking lot on Moxon Street are La Fromagerie, an excellent cheese and food shop, and The Ginger Pig, a famous, friendly, Yorkshire-based butcher shop that dominates the London scene with terrific meat. At La Fromagerie, say hello to manager Sarah Bilney; she’s a gem.
Borough Market A super busy Fri/Saturday market that has become more tourist stop than market, but there are a couple of places along its perimeter that are worth a stop, if you’re in the hood: Monmouth Coffee (best in London, inspired Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, Stumptown, and the rest of the current generation of single varietal, shade grown, fair trade, etc., etc., coffee places) and Neal’s Yard Dairy, which needs no introduction. Within the market, Brindisa is a good shop that brings in Spanish Products and has a couple of cafés around town. There’s a super popular seafood place called The Wright Brothers’ Oyster House, which makes really good food, if you can get in (Saturday, forget it!). Don’t go to the Soho location.
Columbia Market Another East London market, Sundays, lots fo flowers but other good stuff, too.
Maltby Street Market The après-cool shops are here. Claire Ptak (see below) and a few Borough Market expats have moved there. A brewer of craft beer, a misleading but good cheese they disingenuously call Raclette, which it is not, Monmouth again, a sausage and ham guy. Bermondsey, where it’s located, is the new “it” place. However, there’s some good there.
Postcard Teas an ethereal, dreamy, thin-air kind of place, very special, in Mayfair. Def worth a visit.
Apple Store Covent Garden WOW!!! Very interesting architecturally, and worth a peek if you’re in the neighborhood…
I still like the tiny, very sparse, very French Poilâne bakery on Elizabeth Street (near Sloane Square) even though… désolé, ce n’est-pas Paris. The levain was the definitive naturally fermented loaf in Paris for a long time. Acme’s levain was modelled on it. It is still very good, but for me doesn’t have the amazing force it once had.
A very nice, very green shop in Primrose Hill, above Regent’s Park specializing in prepared foods, on the way to Camden Town, along Regent’s Canal. Mos def worth a visit to see how well it’s done. Good food, and quality products, too.
Good food in 4 very popular shops, the best of which is the Notting Hill location on Ledbury Road. Desserts look brilliant and are quite good; displays are spectacular in general. NO PHOTOS!
A charming, warm shop on Westbourne Grove owned and run run by an equally charming and warm man named Alistar Little. The food is quite delicious and beautifully presented on a central farm table. It’s usually fresh from the oven. Please say hello. No website, alas.
...is where it’s at, hipsters and cool places, sort of Mission/LES but better, and worse, not as much blatant I’m-cool-you’re-not attitude. Shoreditch High Street is a riot of galleries and hairdressers and loads of cafés spilling onto the street in nice weather. Kind of an arty Hoxton overflow. Old Street is interesting, too, with a pretty good shop named Food Hall (no website). They have a great larder along the street front, and if you’re nearby, it’s worth a visit.
Leila’s shop on Calvert Avenue in hipster ground zero Shoreditch (no website –she’s way too cool and way too crabby for that; I believe its Facebook page was created by someone else). Leila shop sells England Preserves unlabeled – it’s a nice aesthetic. Her little café next door is great; a very simple, charming, good-tasting breakfast stop on the weekend. Order the eggs and Serrano ham served in the little skillet. They make the best coffee in London (get a cortado) and the best coffee I’ve tasted anywhere in a long time. Kiss Sonya (café) and say hi to Richard (shop) from me. They’re both lovely. I make a special trip, in a blink.
Check out my friend Claire Ptak’s cutest shop ever, Violet, just north of London Fields, in Hackney; it’s an up and coming area northeast of Shoreditch. A nice walk on a sunny day from the Columbia Road Market to Broadway Market, then across London Fields to Claire’s. The cute-as-can-be Toe Path Café is nearby, along Regent’s Canal, at Whitmore Bridge.
Some GOOD neighborhood places near Ladbroke Grove/GOLBORNE ROAD
King Falafel (no website)
Moroccan Fish Stall (no website)
Some good new places
- Zucca, in Bermondsey
- 40 Maltby Street, in a warehouse, also Bermondsey
- Trullo, Islington
- Wright Brothers' Oyster House (Borough Market, South London) a lot; it's a very good, pretty casual, oyster bar/seafood restaurant
- I've never before mentioned The Wolseley, a great, very Viennese place in Piccadilly, owned by Jeremy King, who owns several other places of note. I like it a lot, nothing new or fancy, just good food, and good service. Sit in the main dining room. I got to know Jeremy a little bit in 2010, when he was coming in with Lucien Freud (!) to Sally Clarke's place in the mornings; Kate Moss not infrequently accompanied them, itself worth a flight to London...
- Garnier (Earl's Court Road) is a very good place with a good reputation, again, not cutting new ground, but well done, with excellent food
Sweetings (no website) is a charming, 130-year-old classic London seafood restaurant in the City patronized by businessmen in their shirtsleeves, open only 11:30 - 3:00, only Mon-Fri; clubby, pubby, no reservations
All the rest is noise.