A Foodie’s Guide to Visiting London, Summer 2019

Gosh, is it time already to write the next annual edition of this Foodie’s Guide to Visiting London?

When I first started this series (back in 2016!), I did so for all my friends and family abroad, who’d look to me as on-demand source of recommendations when flocking to London over the summer.

Nothing’s really changed since then, with the 2019 edit continuing to compile the city’s exploding mix of epicurean essentials – supplementing timeless favourites with the revelatory discovery of hidden gems and the thrill of dining at the haute new restaurants across town.

As always, I hope that this bucket list holds as much appeal for all those visiting in the coming months, as it does for Londoners alike! Bon Apetit.

New(ish) & Noteworthy

So what’s new, London?

Well, there’s been plenty by way of outrageously over-the-top openings.

At Gloria’s exuberantly-extra trattoria in Shoreditch, a more-is-more approach oozes the sun-kissed zip of 1970’s Capri, propped up by a parade of pizzas, pastas and super-sized desserts loaded with colours, carbs and comfort.

Over in the City, a £25 million endeavour manifests in Bob Bob Cité finally opening its doors in The Cheesegrater building. The iconic “press for champagne” buttons by each booth are a stand-out feature, with 200 Methuselahs of fine Champagne complementing Eric Chavot’s rendering of French classics.

Then there’s Brasserie of Light in Selfridges. Helmed by Richard Caring’s indomitable Caprice Holdings (the Group behind Sexy Fish, Scott’s & Annabel’s to name a few of their achingly-cool establishments), it’s a spectacularly-shiny spot with a colossal crystal Pegasus – sculpted by Damien Hirst no less – towering over intimately-packed tables.

On the subject of stylish new spots, Kelly Landesberg (daughter of The Arts Club’ Chairman) has fashioned a picturesque space in Marylebone, A.O.K. Kitchen & Bakery, canopied by vines and blossoms with a vibrant focus on wellness. Meanwhile Prada-owned pasticceria – Marchesi 1824 – has made its way from Milan to Mayfair, bringing its #AccidentallyWesAnderson aesthetics, picture-perfect pastries and aperitivo hour to a historic corner of Mount Street. Here’s a long list of new(ish) & noteworthy openings in London.

When in Londoners, Do As Londoners Do

If you want to eat as Londoners do – the best seats are often by an open kitchen, lending a theatrical window for watching the city’s most celebrated chefs in agile action.

From journeying along the vast regions of Italy (Lina Stores), Spain (Sabor and Barrafina) and The Barbary Coast (The Barbary), to looking on in awe as seasonal British produce are transformed by Asian cooking techniques and a bewitching bevy of house-made spices, extracts, pickles and preserves (Scully) – here are the best counter-dining spots in London.

Of course, are you really even a #LondonFoodie if you don’t ‘gram it?

While the city’s most hyped cafés and restaurants are at the tip of this trend, be warned that the risk of eater’s remorse is real with insanely-Instagrammable interiors often making for a better picture than an epicurean experience. Which is why, I’ve rounded up the desserts which are as delicious as they devilishly-attractive. Here’s where you can Instagram your cake and eat it too!

Next up, is a whirl around the thriving food markets, built on an innate understanding of provenance and quality.

Strolling past the artisanal stalls, storied cheesemakers and bakeries of Borough Market is a bit like wandering through a culinary curiosity shop. From Argentinian empanadas and French confit duck sandwiches, to heaps of fresh oysters and spelt risotto cooked live in a gargantuan pan – you simply never know what you might stumble upon next!

Temptation is everywhere at Maltby Street Market too. Cloistered between the railway arches and a salvage warehouse on Bermondsey’s Ropewalk, the zeitgeisty hub majors in iconic names such as The Cheese Truck, Gyoza Guys, Bad Brownie, Waffle On and so on.

Hipsters continue to commune at Exmouth Market, where the outdoor-oriented set-up is particularly inviting on a sun-soaked day; while for a fine foods feast, head to Duke of York Square which hosts a market every Saturday curated by Partridges – the gourmet grocer’s holding a Royal Warrant of Appointment by HM The Queen.

If you’re still around at the end of summer, look out for The West End opening of the largest food hall in the U.K., set to feature an unparalleled collective of local producers, retailers, restaurants, street food vendors, bars and even a demo kitchen!

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While you may be enjoying a weekend lie-in, our traders are up at the crack of dawn preparing for another busy Saturday. We wouldn’t have it any other way – from 8am until 5pm, the Market is buzzing with people here to pick up their favourite ingredients, discover something new, chat to traders and generally take in the atmosphere of a special place that has been here over 1000 years. We 💚 Saturdays at Borough Market. We hope you do too. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Market scenes captured beautifully by @tobylewisthomas for @mimolondonboroughmarket (which, if you want to learn how to cook with BM produce, you should definitely check out!) #boroughmarket #community #saturday #marketshopping #produce

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To level with you, if you truly fancy an insight into #LondonbyLondoners, it’s worth paying heed to those timeless words by Hemingway:

“Don’t bother with churches, government buildings or city squares.

If you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars.”

From terrifically-trendy haunts (rooted in a seven-ingredient menu!) and clandestine speakeasies (promising to transport you to tropical climes) to the plush environs of a classic hotel bar – here’s a bucket list of drinking destinations in London, which are as much about the enchanting experience as the immaculate cocktails and extensive drinks list promised!

Your Eating Atlas, Curated By Cuisines

The bold flavours and boisterous beauty of Israeli food continue to weave their  charm across London. Spanning a compellingly-chaotic compilation of cultures and sub-cultures, this is a cuisine which has been shaped across generations of widespread immigrant communities, each adding their own twist and traditions. From a breakfast sabich and the best pitas this side of Tel Aviv, to the high-octane cooking of modern-day Jerusalem – here’s where to experience Israeli cuisine in London.

If it’s a lust-worthy Lebanese meal you’re after, Ishbilia in Knightsbridge hits the spot for its marvellous selection of mezze, whilst Maroush Gardens in Marble Arch is an all-time-classic for its cacophony of comfort-laden dishes, each glowing with colours under the natural light shining through the restaurant’s spectacular dome skylight!

Roka Mayfair and Nobu Old Park Lane retain star billing for those keen on Japanese cuisine.

Meanwhile, Duck and Rice is a steady choice for cathartic Chinese cooking, its soulful menu matched by cosily-snug surrounds in the heart of Soho. China Tang  is a ritzier option, channelling the Art Deco glamour of 1930’s Shanghai; but for a truly opulent experience, Park Chinois’ debonair lair in Berkeley Square lends itself to a hedonistic evening complete with summer truffle dumplings and a cabaret show. Read on for a guide to the best dim sum spots in London.

Pasta lovers can rejoice in finding the best Cacio e Pepe outside of Rome – at Stevie Parle’s Pastaio in Carnaby, or Padella at Borough Market.

The truffled heap of carbs at Harry’s Dolce Vita delivers sublime satisfaction too, injected with a dash of vintage glamour circa Italy in the ’50s & 60’s, while Theo Randall at The InterContinental Park Lane is an instruction in rustic and fuss-free Italian cooking, albeit executed with an inimitable degree of finesse. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The River Café here – the iconic Italian restaurant where Theo Randall – among other successful and celebrity chefs – were trained. Expect immaculate dishes in a breezy riverside setting, which remains to this day (over thirty years on since its opening in 1987) an institution among institutions.

As for the restorative boost of a good pizza, Homeslice and Santa Maria continue to be dependably excellent, with Del Fino’s in particular fulfilling the role of a neighbourhood Italian with aplomb.

Brunch is taken very seriously in London too, with Sundays often spent in pursuit of charcoal cloud eggs, melt-in-your-mouth stacks of buttermilk pancakes and unabashedly-decadent chocolate brioche French toast. Contemporary and globe-trotting twists to this weekend ritual are just as enticing, right down to Coya’s Peruvian-style party powered by bottomless Pisco Sours and a live saxophonist… ¡ Arriba arriba ! Here are our favourite brunch spots, worth hotfooting it our of bed for!

A Cheat Sheet to Need-to-Know Essentials

If you’re in London on holiday, chances are that you’ll be balancing bags for a good part of your day, as you manoeuvre between frenzied shoppers hitting the summer sales. The experience can be a  tad… discombobulating. Thank goodness then for the restorative care of restos & bars conveniently tucked away nearby. Here’s where to eat & drink whilst you’re shopping.

Of course it deserves mention that a certain cornerstone of Knightsbridge is just as fabulous for foodies as it is for fashionistas. From the elevating pleasures of The Ultimate Truffle Toast to a VitaDrip Elixir, ground-breaking facial and blowout blow-dry (with a styling session slotted in too!), here’s the lowdown on the high-level highlights of a day blissfully ensconced in Harrods.

By way of more top tips, do bookmark these beguiling boltholes the next time you need to flee the madding crowd of Central London – from a luxury bookstore you can sink a cocktail (or few) in, to an unimaginable place of beauty which will quite quickly have you #UnderTheFloralSpell.

Understandably, it can be a bit daunting to navigate your way around London, particularly in light of the fact that there are over 45 distinct neighbourhoods in the city! Which is why, I’ve introduced a set of area-based guides highlighting the best of what to do, see and eat in the different pockets of London.

Discover the hidden gems of Covent Gardenmeander around magical Marylebone, or explore my revelatory map to Chinatown, which has – over recent years – emerged as an incubator for the trendiest eats and treats in town. Stepping out of Zone 1, I’d also recommend pottering around St Kats Docks – sheltered the shadow of  Tower of London, the gentle waterfront is home to some of the most fascinating and underrated restaurants in London!

From Mayfair to Notting Hill, there are plenty of other ‘hoods to explore too, with these Area Guides hopefully providing you with a good starting point!

And while you might inevitably plan your days around food & drink, you can also find a whole host of other recommendations for things to do in London, running the gamut from experiential events and wacky pop-ups to thought-provoking art exhibits, cultural cornerstones and winsome shops galore…

Happy holidays x

Explore my entire London series, hereStay updated with the latest in the world of  food, travel, life & style by signing up to my monthly newsletter – here.

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