The River café
A popular and chic restaurant in Hammersmith, outer London. Very, very expensive, but you can keep it down by ordering carefully. Joseph 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.
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. One afternoon on a packed bus back to Maida Vale not a word of English was spoken. It was brilliant. This place is kind of a must. Stevie has a few (!) new places, Pastaio (Soho), Rotorino (Dalston), Sardine (Shoreditch), Palatino (Clerkenwell), and Craft London (Greenwich).
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.
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.
St. John Restaurant and Bar
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.
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.
I had an excellent meal of classic French and English dishes at this lovely room in Mayfair: lobster bisque, sweetbreads à l’ancienne; herring milts on toast; a 1/2 liter of good Beaujolais Villages. I recommend Scott’s highly for this style of food. I've had other meals there that were very good, but that particular one was outstanding. I think it was on my birthday!
The latest landing of Skye Gyngell, who for a long time cooked wonderful food at Petersham Nurseries, in Richmond Park, and put then on London's culinary map. Thankfully, she's back in action at the kitchen in Somerset House, with food as special and delightful as always.
Sweetings (no website)
Charming, out-of-the-past, 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; A clubby market-like room, no reservations
Elegant, spacious, Viennese sort of place in Piccadilly, owned by Jeremy King, who has several other London places of note. I like The Wolseley an awful lot, nothing new or fancy, but nice food, and excellent service. Old School. Sit in the main dining room if you can. I got to know Jeremy in 2010, when he was coming in to Sally Clarke's with Lucien Freud (!) in the mornings, before we opened for lunch; Kate Moss sometimes accompanied them, itself worth a flight to London...
...is where it’s at: Hipsters, cool places, sort of Mission/LES but better, and worse; as much blatant I’m-cool-you’re-not attitude. Shoreditch High Street is a riot of galleries, hairdressers, and loads of cafés spilling onto the street in nice weather. Kind of an arty Hoxton overflow. Old Street is interesting, too.
Leila's special 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.
On Arnold Circus just across from Leila's, in the now buzzing neighbourhood of Shoreditch, a comfortable, casual, tasty place by Fergus Henderson's wife. Book as far ahead as you can, it's always busy.
Check out my friend Claire Ptak’s cutest shop ever, 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.
GOOD neighborhood places near Ladbroke Grove/GOLBORNE ROAD
King Falafel (no website)
Moroccan Fish Stall (no website)
good new(ish) places
40 Maltby Street, in a warehouse, also Bermondsey
Wright Brothers' Oyster House (Borough Market, South London) a lot; it's a very good, casual oyster bar/seafood restaurant
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
Heard good things said about Beagle (Hoxton, East London)
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.
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 evening, forget it!). Don’t bother with the Soho location.
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.
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 love this perfectly tiny 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.
Melrose and Morgan
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 5 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.
All the rest is noise.