I walked 37 miles, in one pair of Pumas, over 6 days in London. I figure that’s a mile for every time the words ‘fish & chips” “one pint” or “another croissant, please” fell out of my mouth and food appeared on my plate.
I’ve been to London before. Each time for a stop-over headed elsewhere, ooorr the sort of trip with no room for variance where you find yourself looking up at Big Ben wondering how you’ll ever get a good picture of it and prove you were actually in London and knew it. That is to say, I’ve never wandered London always hungry and just slightly lost. That’s a fantastic experience.
I was in town teaching a workshop in Notting Hill about food styling and photography. The rest of the time my friend Jessica would make dinner, share tea, and shove me in different London directions. Thank you, Jessica! Here are some of my favorites from my week of adventuring.
Some of the first sentences Jessica spoke to me upon my arrival were, “Go to Borough Market. Go by yourself. Eat everything but especially the oysters. Please eat the oysters”. She was right! It’s best navigated as a solo adventure so you can wander the stalls in seven rounds, stopping every other round to chat with the old French oyster man who will shuck two fresh just for you. They were sweet and lightly minerally and very near earthly perfection. Also at Borough Market, a very fine / very serious / VERY hearty + heartwarming bakers: Bread Ahead.
The Chipping Forecast is a casual, early evening restaurant for great Fish & Chips. They fry their fish in beef dripping and have rose wine ON TAP, so… hallelujah and amen!
Just down the way from The Chipping Forecast in Notting Hill is The Tin Shed. Perfect coffee and breakfast spot! Their croissants are light and tender and chewy in just the right way… plus they have an incredible bagel and smoked salmon situation. Pro-tip, head for a seat downstairs and scope out their open bakers, back patio, and some really nice photography light!
I had an epiphany at real-life Ottolenghi. By ‘real-life Ottolenghi’ I mean the brick and mortar store, not just the flawless cookbook on my shelf. Real-life Ottolenghi is like an edible museum of fresh and stunning food. Salads, greens, vegetables, grains are piled high on platters, artfully, casually, perfectly…. It’s almost disarming and certainly a refreshing way to interact in a restaurant. It’s right.
Pub culture makes London feel super welcoming and neighborhoody. One of my favorite stops on this trip is the The Churchill Arms. Flowers and greens adorn the building, old chamber pots hang from the inside ceiling, and there’s a Thai food rainforest towards the back. It’s the best for a cold cup of Guinness and really spicy Thai food if you don’t mind the waitresses yelling at you a little (ok… actually a lot).
A walk down the road from The Churchill Arms is my favorite restaurant in London: Ffiona’s. Small, homey, REALLY FANTASTIC FOOD, great wine… just exactly where you want to be just about every night of the week. Ffiona is fantastic, and her sister is downstairs ruling the kitchen. Please go and enjoy whatever Ffiona tells you to eat especially if it’s meatballs or lamb.
Indian Breakfast!? Heck yes! Head out to Dishoom for Bacon Naan rolls or Indian spiced scrambled eggs. They also have incredible decor and seating and Chocolate Chai. These are all very good words.
Soft, doughly, rightly browned, cardamom buns from Fabrique. With milky tea or a dark Americano… it’s perfect fuel for a long afternoon walk through London parks.
Also very good long afternoon London walks:
An American in London at The Electric Diner. Very good for a solo bar burger and a movie night at The Electric!
The Thomas Cubitt gastropub for oysters and champagne and majorly rewarding feelings of playing hookie on a weekday. It’s a good lunch linger.
Wild At Heart is a charming wedge in Notting Hill that sells beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers. Perfect for gifting your hostess or Instagraming, or apparently… baby chasing.
The Laslett is a modern but cozy hotel for afternoon scones and clotted cream and fresh jam and tea. And clotted cream. And clotted cream. Pass the clotted cream. I love you, London! You were good to me and I thank you! Jessica… see you real real soon!