As much as I really love to shop, I’ll admit there are times when the experience can be a bit discombobulating. From the frenzied festive rush to summertime crowds – hitting the high streets (or even Harrods for that matter) is not exactly a walk in Hyde Park!
Thank goodness then for the respite care offered by the cafés, bars and restaurants cosily tucked away nearby. Here are my top picks of the best of these retreats to recharge at, before braving the rest of the day…
Alto. Helmed by the stylish San Carlo restaurant group, the new rooftop restaurant at Selfridges is a breezy spot for Aperol o’ clock. The Cacio e Pepe here makes a compelling case for carbs after, but do make sure to save room for their epic take on a sundae. It involves six scoops of ice cream (vanilla, hazelnut and dark chocolate), warm Nutella sauce and a few cheeky chunks of Ferrero Rocher….
Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, Marylebone, London W1A 1AB
St Christopher’s Place
Once a tourist-trap, this pedestrianised pocket behind Oxford Street is now home to several buzzworthy cafés and restaurants, including:
Feya. An Instagrammer’s haven boasting pretty-in-pastel florals and picture-perfect plates, from all day brunch (think rainbow-hued smoothie bowls, avocado roses and more…) to decadently rich pastries. Read more, here.
Hoppers. The larger outpost of the Soho original specialises in searingly spicy Sri Lankan karis, mopped up by crisp-edged dosas and fluffy, crater-shaped hoppers.
Social Wine & Tapas. British-style tapas and wine are in perfect harmony at this shiny establishment which is part of Jason Atherton’s Social family of restaurants. Full review, here.
Patty & Bun. Of course, when it comes down to it, is there anything more galvanising than a devilishly deep-fried burger sandwiched between golden-topped brioche buns?
St Christopher’s Place, 23 Barrett St, Marylebone, London W1U 1BF
Or you could wander a little further into Marylebone and take your pick from any of the the inviting coffee houses lining the area’s elegant streets. Complete Guide, here.
With trendy newcomers such as Weekday and Arket joining the ranks of old favourites from Burberry to Hamley’s – Regent Street has evolved into an eclectic retail haven catering to all styles of shoppers. The dining destinations are just as versatile.
Bombay Bustle. Located on Maddox Street (towards the Oxford Circus end of Regent Street), the new restaurant from the team behind Jamavar is a homage to the spirited pace of life in Bombay with a menu brimming with iconic dishes. Full review, here.
Comfort food to lose yourself in… Forever grateful to the A Team @BombayBustle for bringing the best of Bombay to London, from misal pav and dosas to chola batura & more! Congratulations @SamyuktaNair @ChefGhai2016 @Abhis777 on another smash hit, raising the bar for Indian food in LDN yet again! #BombayBustle #MaximumCityMaximumFlavour #TopLondonRestaurants #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Parlour at Sketch. The pretty-in-pink Gallery at this iconic townhouse on Conduit Street may have the attention of London’s Instagram lot; but it’s Sketch’ whimsical Parlour which has captured our imagination. The quirky tea room is ideal for a mid-afternoon boost in the form of impeccable scones; and there’s ample room to spread out all those shopping bags too!
Thomas’ at Burberry. Speaking of style and scones, I’d be remiss for leaving out this charming café within Burberry’s flagship store. Full review, here.
Ralph’s Coffee & Bar. A few doors down – there’s the hopelessly handsome cafe at Ralph Lauren, majoring in an all-day breakfast menu including the likes of Lobster Eggs Benedict…
Carnaby. You could also slip across the road into colourful Carnaby, where some of London’s hottest new eateries sit alongside edgy boutiques. Top picks include Pastaio for felicitous plates of pasta (including that Cacio e Pepe) and the recently-hatched Good Egg.
The beauty of Bond Street is that the restaurants around here match the modish nature of the surrounding boutiques.
Mews of Mayfair. Spread out over a narrow cobbled courtyard in Lancashire Court (leading off Brook Street), Mews is a hidden gem for tasteful daytime drinking, with a deep wine list that’s as good as the cocktail menu. This & more al-fresco wine spots, here.
Indian Accent, Albermarle Street. The lunch-time set menus at this avant-garde Indian restaurant are ideal for luxuriating on-the-go with a contemporary twist on classic dishes. Quite simply, it’s a meal which will redefine your vocabulary of Indian cuisine. Full review, here.
Absolutely ecstatic that @IndianAccent (one of the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants) has opened @AlbemarleStreetMayfair, bringing @ChefManishMehrotra’s clever twist on Indian classics to London! This is the first of many, many courses from our dinner here last night: a “potato sphere chaat” spanning the spectrum from spicy and sour, to sweet and tangy. More highlights on my Stories, and of course coming to the blog soon. #IndianAccentLondon #FinallyOpen #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Aside from pandering to our penchant for pretty handbags and glad rags, the hallowed halls of Harrods do remarkably well by us foodies too:
Chai Wu. It’s worth taking time out for a sumptuous lunch at this Pan-Asian restaurant tucked away at the top of Harrods (on the same level as Shoe Heaven), before you trot off in search of that next pair of party heels. The dedicated vegetarian menu is as expansive as it is excellent, while the melting chocolate sphere and green tea & white chocolate fondant make for a truly memorable finish. Full review, here.
DREAMIEST desserts last night @ChaiWuLondon – one of my favourite pan-Asian restaurants, tucked away at the top @Harrods // Mum made quick work of this chocolate sphere (doused with ALL the toffee caramel). While I pretty much inhaled that light-as-air green tea & white chocolate fondant! A special shout-out to @Alegaro86 for the lush, off-menu cocktails 🍸🍸 #MatchaMarvellous #ChaiWu #DessertTime #DessertTable #FoodieLife #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Bake Hall & Roastery. The first Chapter of Harrod’s Taste Revolution is a full-on-fabulous affair, involving a mammoth coffee roasting operation, a Tea Tailor and live bakery where you can have your next loaf of sourdough personalised with your initials! The coffee bar is a sleek spot to refuel at, complete with picture-perfect pastries and scrummier new-age treats like cronuts too.
The Knightsbridge blend & a rather grand chocolate pastry @Harrods’ new Roastery & Bake Hall // Utterly smitten by the new space (officially opening tomorrow) – will DEFINITELY be returning soon for my next customised loaf of sourdough (engraved with my initials and freshly baked on order!) and to restock up on my bespoke blend of vanilla & ginger tea – ask for a Foodie’s Chai and try it for yourself, or have a gander at making your own blend when you visit. The Tea Tailor will guide you through it! #Harrods #ATasteRevolution #MondayLikeThese #FoodieLife #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL
Harry’s Dolce Vita, Knightsbridge
This new Italian bolthole from Richard Caring’s Caprice Holdings (the group behind Sexy Fish, Annabel’s, 34 and more) is a glamorous throwback o the ’50s and ’60s ‘La Dolce Vita’ period in Italy. Expect heaps of truffles and Dolci galore… Full review, here.
Bar Boulud, Mandarin Oriental
Housed within the grandiose Mandarin Oriental – this all-day French-style bistro & wine bar from globe-trotting chef Daniel Boulud maintains a cosy character of its own, matched by flawless service and a decadently comforting menu (expect burgers, fries and the like). Full review, here.
Comfort food at its decadent best last night @BarBouludLondon. We're went for the full works 💁🏻gougere puffs, pommes frites, burrata with pickled strawberries, this ridiculously fine Mac n Cheese *AND* a passionfruit soufflé, madeleines and macarons to finish! #FoodieLife #TopLondonRestaurants #BarBoulud #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Wandering off the beaten path, mosey on over to this quietly-elegant street in Belgravia. Ottolenghi is always a cheerful choice for its vibrant smattering of Israeli-inspired salads (inevitably followed by a chocolate and tahini cupcake). Although there’s bound to be bit of a toss-up with the Fine Cheese Company next door, which is well worth a visit for their soufflés alone (each easily the size of your head)!
Near Covent Garden
St Martin’s Courtyard
Secluded from the busy bustle of Covent Garden, the open-air enclosure packs in a jaunty jumble of places to eat and relax in – from a Bombay-style brekky at Dishoom (lengthened by endless refills of chai) to the sheltered Italian terrace of Dalla Terra. Complete Guide to St Martin’s Courtyard, here.
There’s brunch and then there’s a Bombay-style brunch @Dishoom, *the* only way to begin a morning @StMartinsCourtyard // SO glad to be finally carving out that much needed “me-time”, with a leisurely day packed with pre-birthday pampering… watch this space for more highlights ! #StMartinsCourtyard #BirthdayWeek #BrunchLife #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Sandwiched between Covent Garden and Soho, the quirky network of inter-crossing streets known as Seven Dials is as well-known for its unique fashion and lifestyle boutiques (from Tatty Devine to Fresh Beauty), as its notable mix of cafés and restaurants.
The colourful folds of Neal’s Yard are particularly enticing, offering a plethora of restful stops including Jacob The Angel for coffee and tahini madeleines; Native for a wildly beautiful lunch showcasing foraged British produce; and/ or Casanova & Daughters for a glass of wine paired with Sicilian-style antipasti. Complete Guide to Seven Dials, here.