Marylebone has always been one of my favourite areas in London for its quintessential-charm matched by just that right dash of glamour.
An oasis of collected calm in the busy heart of the city, its quietly-elegant streets and side streets feature an unimprovable line-up of local haunts and (worthily) sceney newcomers, cultural cornerstones and picture-postcard boutiques. Truth be told, I likely spend as much time here, as I do in my own neighbourhood!
Whether you have a full day, or just a fraction of it, for a meander in Marylebone – here are my top picks for breakfast through to dinner, with plenty of must-visits and must-do’s along the way!
Start your day at Monocle, a quaint bolthole which speaks the same language as at the stylish Chiltern Street on which it’s situated. Founded by the editors of Monocle Magazine, the café serves up a mix of Japanese and Scandi-style brekky plates which are best enjoyed in the snug living room set-up at the back. Of course, the purists among you would favour a cinnamon bun at Nordic Bakery’s minimalist outpost, located just a stone’s throw away on Dorset Street.
A.O.K.’s pretty-as-a-picture restaurant is a chic choice for ladies looking to lunch in the area, with a light-ish menu constellating on vibrant salads and dishes free from refined sugar, gluten, dairy and the like!
For bolder, Antipodean-inspired dishes – which surprise and delight in equal measure – try The Providores and Tapa Room around the corner; or the quirky Daisy Green on Seymour Street, where brunch is an everyday affair featuring the delights of coconut bread French toast and corn fritters laden with poached eggs.
Although lacking the alluring ambience characteristic of its local counterparts, Ohisama deserves a mention too. Helmed by an ex-Nobu chef, this hidden gem off Baker Street is worth a visit for creatively-constructed sushi rolls and its beautiful take on Japanese classics, guaranteed to have you ordering seconds even before you’re finished with your first plate!
There’s no dearth of weekend draws in Marylebone either. Adding to the places we’ve covered, is Opso for a big fat Greek brunch (complete with the restaurant’s must-be-tried granola and koulouri milk bread); and lest I forget – the cosy cobbled courtyard of Chiltern Firehouse (more on which below) for melt-in your mouth stacks of buttermilk pancakes smothered with blueberries, crème fraîche and all the maple syrup!
An Afternoon Well Spent
I’d be remiss for dedicating this entire article to the epicurean highlights of Marylebone, without attention to the neighbourhood’s other, more versatile attractions.
Must-visits in Marylebone start with the The Wallace Collection in Manchester Square, which is brimming with a spectacular collection of paintings (including works by Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian to name a few of the museum’s old masters); objets d’art (including eighteenth century French furniture); and all sorts of medieval armour and weaponry!
Situated nondescriptly on Marylebone High Street, Daunt Book’s original store is a blissful haven for book lovers, travel enthusiasts and avid admirers of Edwardian-style of architecture. The striking conservatory ceiling shines a natural light on the notably-extensive selection of travel titles, while the oak balconies offer a quiet corner to prop up against while you enjoy a peaceful browse.
There’s much joy to be found in diving into the twentieth-century photography at Atlas Gallery, or browsing the unparalleled collection of vintage film posters At The Movies on Thayer Street. Meanwhile, the Everyman Baker Street remains one of the most underrated cinemas in the city, with snuggle-worthy couches from which to watch the latest releases in cosy comfort.
Fashion fiends can find much to occupy their time too, as the picturesque high street is dotted with prettily-petite versions of lustworthy-labels from Sandro and Maje, not to mention the artfully curated boutiques such as Matches and Toast!
Wine o’ Clock
Of course oenophiles would find reason a-plenty to stay on in Marylebone come evening – Clarette being one of them. The Tudor-style exterior – on the corner of Blandford Street – belies the cosiest of wine bars complete with stained glass windows, communal tables and a roaring fireplace. That one of the founders is from the Chateau Margaux wine estate in France, is evident from a thoughtfully-curated and surprisingly-accessible wine list. There’s also plenty to whet your appetite by way of small but substantively-assembled plates.
If it’s a different sort of liquid gratification you’re thirsty for, try Zetter Townhouse. Home to the family’s wicked Uncle Seymour – the candle-flickering Parlour is as endearing as it is eccentric, with impressionable cocktails designed by master mixologist, Tony Conigliaro. There’s something undeniably cosy about Andre Balasz’s Chiltern Firehouse too, despite the see-and-be-seen parade it plays host to (not to mention that service almost always leaves much to be desired).
And for a more intimate evening, away from prying eyes, cram into one of the secluded alcoves around the corner, at Purl. The inventive line up of cocktails here are definitely worth raising a toast to!
… As For Dinner
The magic of Marylebone extends to the area’s atmospheric restaurants which have you feeling at home from the moment you step in.
Locals remain loyal to the family-run Italian Casa Becchi; while the stylish set flock to Il Baretto where dishes might sway between hits and misses but the truffle-heavy assemblies never disappoint.
Fischer’s has us giddy with nostalgia for the old-world charm of a Viennese coffee house, while Jikoni imbibes the richly varied influences of a chef born in Kenya to parents of Indian origin and brought up in London.
Hoppers’ larger new outpost in St Christopher’s Place adds to this melting pot of cuisines and cultures, with a considerably reduced waiting-time for your fix of appams, karis and other searingly spicy Sri Lankan dishes!
Last – but not least – 108 Marylebone is always a good idea for a spontaneous dinner in the area, as its capacious layout is open to last-minute bookings and walk-in’s. Much like The Ivy’s neighbourhood cafe (located a lane away), the all-day affair here is just as well-suited for an early morning start, as it is for late-night desserts and a cocktail!
If you have any recommendations which I’ve missed, please do share them in the comments below or by tweeting me @foodiediaries. Happy meandering!