Covent Garden has always held a captivating charm for Londoners and visitors alike – from the unadulterated delights of an evening at The Royal Opera House to the ever-expanding salmagundi of shops and restaurants. Most compellingly – the storied area is also home to hidden gems and beguiling boltholes a-plenty, which once discovered will have you hankering for a revisit time and time again! Here’s an insider’s guide to these underrated – but no less high-level – corners of Covent Garden.
Shop at Bluebird
Conceptualised as a “playground of wonders,” The Shop at Bluebird has moved from its iconic Chelsea location to a former coach house in Covent Garden. Set across a triple-height day-lit atrium, the stunning décor retains a few stand-out details (including the original carriage pulley systems!) and is as much fun to explore as the expertly-curated collection of womenswear (featuring contemporary and seasonal brands, alongside your favourite designers); accessories (perfect for your next beach vacay!) and homewares.
The Shop At Bluebird, Carriage Hall, 29 Floral Street London WC2E 9DP
A floral fairyland, interiors inspiration and hands-on workshops are just a few of the many alluring appeals to Richmond-based Petersham Nurseries’ outpost in Covent Garden. The location in Floral Court couldn’t be more perfect either, given the area’s history as a flower, fruit and vegetable market! Spread across 16,000 square feet, it’s all-too-easy to lose track of time immersed in the enchanting garden or browsing the ethereal collection of Venetian glassware here. And if you’re feeling peckish there’s a nature-inspired delicatessen next-door, with two additional restaurants set amidst an enchanting courtyard… Read the full review, here.
Petersham Nurseries, 31 King St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8JD
Recent times have seen no dearth of high-profile openings in Covent Garden, from the pond-crossing Red Farm (of Pac-Man Dumplings fame in NYC) and Mark Wahlberg’s Wahlburger, to the likes of Cora Pearl (sister restaurant to Mayfair’s Kitty Fisher) and an-all-avocado restaurant…
But if I had to pick just the one place for my next lunch in the area, it would undoubtedly be Abuelo, a farm-to-table concept marrying Antipodean dishes with South American inspirations. There’s a convivial tone to the diminutive space which centres on an inviting communal table, with a curved counter overlaid with heaps of inviting cakes! Needless to say, all-day-brunch is a rather breezy affair at this bucolic café.
Abuelo, 26 Southampton St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7RS
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Australia meets Argentina @AbueloCoffeeLondon – a cosy spot to bookmark for all day brunch @CoventGardenLDN! If you’re stuck choosing between all the enticing options, go for “Huevos Divorciados de Turco.” Yes that’s essentially divorced eggs – labneh poached eggs, separated by salsa, chimchurri, avocado and paprika… Needless to say, I mopped up every last bit of it! #BrunchLife #CoventGarden #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Tucked away in a quiet by-lane, Santa Nata’s sun-drenched pastelaria champions the iconic Pastéis de Nata – custard tarts which are ravishingly-crisp and flaky on the outside, but reveal a gloriously molten centre within. They’re best snaffled with a Portuguese cherry liqueur (Ginjinha), port or a special espresso known as Bica, all of which are served within this inviting Portuguese bakery!
Santa Nata, 17 Russell St, Covent Garden, London WC2B 5HP
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A public service announcement 📣 @SantaNataUK have just opened a sun-drenched shop @CoventGardenLDN, championing the custard tart we know & LOVE – #PasteisDeNata 🤩 Crisp & flaky on the outside, with a deliciously warm & molten centre – it’s really the next best thing to visiting Portugal this summer! 📍@SantaNataUK, Covent Garden. #EaterLondon #TopCityBites #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
St Martin’s Courtyard
Secluded from the thrum of Covent Garden, the open-air enclosure of St Martins Courtyard 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. Just ensure you have enough time for a quick massage, blow-dry and floristry workshop in between! Complete Guide to St Martin’s Courtyard, here.
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WHAT a day // An epic brunch @Dishoom. A masterclass in flower power @CoventGardenAcademyOfFlowers. A massage @RelaxSpaLondon (which did exactly what it says on the tin) followed by the hair-do of my dreams @BlowLTD. Somewhere in between I found time for a visit @TheEastIndiaCompany (because, tea) and I’m now sipping fizz and tucking into burrata @DallaTerra… All told, it’s been a rather wonderful afternoon @StMartinsCourtyard, and one which has set the bar quite high for my birthday tomorrow! #BirthdayWeek #AfternoonWellSpent #StMartinsCourtyard #LondonLife #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Also spinning off from Covent Garden, is the quirky network of inter-crossing streets known as Seven Dials, which cosset a unique mix of boutiques – from Miller Harris’ scintillating scents to the chic leather range of Nappa Dori. The colourful folds of Neal’s Yard are particularly enchanting, featuring all manners of restful stops from Jacob The Angel for coffee and tahini madeleines to Casanova & Daughters for a glass of wine paired with Sicilian-style antipasti. Complete Guide to Seven Dials, here.
Where are your go-to’s in Covent Garden? Do tweet your favourites @foodiediaries