I love to eat, in fact I am happier with a great cup of coffee and a little something to eat than I am shopping. Odd creature. So here are a few of my fav places to indulge in.
Flat White, Soho
I am a coffee snob. Starbucks and Costa will do if I am dying for caffeine, but I’d rather walk halfway across London to get to this amazing coffee shop than simply make do with a Starbucks over ground burnt offering. Found on Berwick Street in Soho, just a short walk from Carnaby Street and Liberty or a quick sashay down from Oxford Street. Established by expat antipodeans’ desperate to get decent coffee they brought the flattie (Flat White) to London.
Leon – The Strand
One of the I believe eight restaurant across London. Great for a quick incredibly tasty bite. Admittedly it does cost more than a McDonalds, but who cares when you can tuck into Hummus and Flat Bread, Gobi, and the famous meatballs. I have been told that I am a creature of habit, and at Leon I am. I will order with out fail, a Slow Cooked Pork Wrap, with Hummus and Grilled Halumi with a cold freshly made Lemonade.
I am going to miss Leon.
For when you want something that is just a little special. Inside the Royal Festival Hall enjoying stunning views over the River and the Embankment.
Menu is pricey but worth it for that special occasion. The restaurant takes its name from “Vertical Feature” that was an abiding symbol of the Festival of Britain which truly must have been a sight to behold.
I adore the Southbank Centre. I often just love to come and sit here and watch the people hustle and bustle past. I love the clash of cultures that it encourages, when they evenings entertainments are finished and the audience spills out. You get those dressed smartly for an evening classical recital and then the younger and funky who have been to some amazing urban poetry/hiphop event. Where else in London would these two groups of people brush shoulders so happily?
Top tip – even if you can’t quiet stomach the price of a full meal, you can take drinks at the bar or on the comfy seats by the windows and soak up the view.
Italiano Coffee Company
Cheap and Cheerful just off Tottenham Court Road popular with the local students. Easy to see why when you can get a freshly made 11″ Pizza for £3.50.
Great communal atmosphere where everyone bunches up next to each other on long tables and stools canteen style. Great place to grab a quick but great bite on the go.
Harpers Cafe, London Bridge
A complete gem in the London Bridge area, about 40 paces from Borough Market. Serves classic greasy spoon fry ups as well as a very good range of generous sandwiches which are made up on the spot. Fantastically cheap considering its proximity to Borough Market, a full English and a cup of tea will set you back about £3.80. One thing though – give the toilets a miss.
Carluccios, Garrick Street
Ok, ok, this one is very ‘high street’ but it is a great place to go pre theatre or to meet up with friends. It is central, nearly always able to squeeze you in and the stairway is to die for. All that bare plaster with each step home to a tiny rosemary plant in a terracotta pot, and frankly who doesn’t like pasta?
I’d recommend the affogato desert!
Rules, Maiden Lane
It is rather hard to say that Rules is ‘Secret’. They claim that it is the oldest reastraunt in London. I don’t know whether that is true, but it certainly feels terribly old and fabulously British when you enter it. Rules has a very special place in my heart as part of it’s empire is actually the Lartington Estate in County Durham, about 3 miles from where I grew up. The pride and joy of Rules is rather unusually a 1935 Rolls Royce called Bubbles. Bubbles was rebuilt by my Dad and gives me a little thrill each time I see her trundling around the streets.
Food is very traditional and really a no go for the vegetarians amongst you, but brilliant. Dining here is an experience.
And finally, the secretes top tip is…Top Table. The restaurant booking website which magically manages to find offers and deals at amazing places making it quiet possible to take High Tea at the Ritz with out being press ganged into doing the washing up afterwards.
Make sure you sign up, you don’t have to live in London to use this site, in fact it books in many other places across England and excitingly the world. Hunt around on it, be open minded and you will find yourself a brilliant deal.