The Wheatsheaf hotel and pub in Virginia Water is set in an ideal location as it is right by Virginia Water Lake and Windsor Great Park. It is cosy with its open fireplaces and it has a large beer garden at the back. The inn welcomes families for dining and staying. Traditional, freshly cooked English food and light bites are available.
For a bit of history, King George III and Queen Charlotte are known to have stayed at the inn in the early 1800s.
London Road, Virginia Water, Surrey GU25 4QF
Google map: bit.ly/RPdXMJ
The Dock is a newly-opened restaurant in Docklands, just a short walk from Canary Wharf. It's a bit off the beaten track but a real hidden gem. It serves delicious seafood - I had the scallops with bacon, and tried some of my friend's calamari. It was really good! I was tempted by the steak but in the end opted for the fish and chips which were great. The batter was light and crispy and the chips nice and chunky. The food is top-class but there's nothing stuffy about it - it's very relaxed and the owner and staff are very friendly. It's great value too. I am looking forward to my next visit to try something more adventurous. I would really recommend it as a place for lunch, or for meeting friends after work.
This transformed warehouse is a hidden haven for anyone trying to avoid the obvious crowds in Dalston. They serve hearty British food, sourced locally, seasonal and fresh. The eating area is warm, friendly and relaxed, and the kitchen in plain view, which is always a good sign when they have nothing to hide! A perfect place to come for a quiet read or to go with friends for a sensibly priced dinner. It also hosts exhibitions and live music events.
For those who want everything a classic French Cafe/Bistro has to offer, including atmosphere, Tour de France cyclists in full gear (on a Sunday morning anyway) and right at the base of South London's Eiffel Tower (i.e. The Crystal Palace Communications Antenna), look no further than the complelely brilliant Cafe St Germain. The menu is authentic too, and you can light up your Gauloise on the terrace whilst watching Gay Palace stroll by.
I recommend Brula as an authentic and exquisite French Bistro experience in St Margarets, south west London. It has an amazing interior with stained glass windows and original block wood flooring. A delicious seasonal menu of traditional French classics with a twist keeps things fresh. If you're with a group I'd book the private dining room upstairs. I had a great evening with all the family on the eve of my wedding as they do a superb set menu and on a warm summers evening with the sash windows flung wide open, candles lit and champagne flowing. Magnifique!
Great restaurant, really delicious food, easy going atmosphere.
Italian food, small plates to share (two per person was recommended by the waiter and is right).
6 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7NA
+44(0)20 7836 8448
Google map: bit.ly/xz54yz
With the chaos and cars of Kingsland Road, Dalston’s busy high street just around the corner, the Farm Shop on Dalston Lane makes a welcome escape. Slightly bizarre stark white décor greets you on arrival in their first room with ‘aquaponic’ fish tanks and a wall of plants. There are signs explaining that the water is circulated between the fish tanks and the plants and this is all harvested off the roof, which incidentally is where they keep their chickens! Wandering through the shop is more like a science museum with gems of sustainable inspiration and you can even hire out the polytunnels for parties complete with a disco ball! Once you’ve finished exploring the shop sells a range of delicious foodstuffs – from London honey to today’s eggs to fish to fairtrade organic coffee. There’s also often art on the walls up for grabs and the café serves the best bacon sandwich in London! Much loved and recommended for an intriguing shopping experience – who knows, you could come away with a chicken!
Borough food market is not a London secret, in fact its one of busiest attractions in South London and one of London’s most famous markets. This however doesn’t make it any less appealing. I visit Borough for breakfast or lunch and snack on my buys while exploring the Southbank. It’s the perfect start to a day out in the city and launches new visitors headfirst into the reality of London. It is full to bursting with people and offers huge choice and variety (it’s also a little dear on the pocket).
8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL
+44(0)20 7407 1002
Closest tubes: London Bridge and Borough Closest station: London Bridge
Opening hours: Thurs, Fri and Sat 8-4 (but the earlier you get there the better your chances)
Google map: bit.ly/nj08Mm
* Sophie is our Been there local for London. You can view her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/london-local-sophie-mitchell-intro.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/SophieMItchell
Elephant offers authentic Pakistani street food in a modest setting in the uber-cool Brixton Village market. Meat curries, naan breads, daals, salads, rice dishes and divine samosas are served up by owner Imran Bashir using his mum's secret spice concoctions and the price is very reasonable.
55 Granville Arcade, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton Village, London SW9 8PS
+44 7590 389684
Google map: bit.ly/mQpVAk
* Lucy is our Been there local for London. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/london-local-lucy-mallows.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/LucyRM.jsp
Amazing sourdough bread that you can buy to take away or toast there and then in the huge Dualit toasters on tables outside the little venue. Lots of fantastic loaves, cakes and sausage rolls. Yum.
The longest running organic bakery in London started out in 1982 in a disused post office in Clapham. The bakers use the best quality flours to produce divine breads, pasties, pastries and cakes. The aroma of fresh bread draws in customers from all over south London, and there’s even a home delivery service. Scrummy.
Greensmiths is an amazing food emporium, café, cheese heaven and bakery.
The aroma from the cheesemonger’s section reminded me of old fashioned speciality shops last smelt in my early childhood. So evocative. I was offered a tasting nugget of Coolea cheese made by a Dutch couple who moved to Cork, Ireland, it is a bit like a hard, tangy Gouda, and very moreish!
Fresh meat is delivered from the Ginger pig farm in North Yorkshire, while bread, pastries and cakes come from the superb Old Post Office organic bakery in Clapham’s Landor Road.
The Waterloo wine merchant provides the bevies, and the Solstice fruit and veg department looks like something out of Harrods food hall, with every aubergine polished to within an inch of its life and every grape gleaming in the sunlight.
The café is located upstairs and outside on the pavement. My friend enjoyed the all-day veggie breakfast and I wolfed down a roast beef and horseradish ciabatta sandwich, refreshed with specialist coffees and other brews from Caffe Antica.
27 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7RG
+44(0)207 921 2970
Google map: bit.ly/lv6Hte
Open Mon-Fri 08.00—20.00, Sat 08.00—18.00, Sun closed
Overground train or Northern Line underground to Waterloo, Bakerloo Line underground to Lambeth North, bus 12, 53, 148, 159, 453, N109, 171
Sophocles is one of the best bakeries in south London and knocks all other Camberwell cakey places into a cocked hat. Where else can you try a kolokotes: a Cornish pasty-shaped sweet pastry case hiding an unusual and surprisingly tasty mix of pumpkin, raisins, cous cous and spices? It sounds strange but one of these is worth a journey on the number 12 bus alone. This Greek-owned bakery and patisserie tempts me inside daily, with its irresistible, fresh bloomers, whose fluffy white (or brown) bread, with a crisp sesame and aniseed dusting, cries out to be slathered in butter. There is a vast range of sweet pastries, creamy cakes, fruit tarts and almond pies dripping with honey. I only recently spotted the savoury section at the back, hidden behind the small café area, where elderly Greek gentlemen sip sticky coffee. However, I’ll be back soon to try a feta and spinach pastry, a crimson slice of pizza or a made to order sandwich. Tasty.
24 Camberwell Church Street, London SE5 8QU
+44(0)20 7252 6316
Bus 12, 171, 345, 36, 436 to Camberwell Green
Google map: bit.ly/lF8fAn
A fascinating market which reflects the diversity of the local population.
A stroll down Atlantic Road and Electric Avenue in the centre of Brixton will take you past well established British fishmongers and more recently arrived Portuguese grocers. Further into the market are the stalls and shops stocking Caribbean staples, salt fish, plantains, green bananas and cassava. Butchers shops cater to many different communities, some are halal some sell pig's trotters and tails. Others sell Brazilian sausages or Columbian delicacies. In the last 12 months the Brixton Village project has seen the development of previously empty market units so that there are now new shops and stalls in the Granville Arcade, sitting alongside those selling dried fish from West Africa and a bewildering variety of yams. These ventures include small independent coffee shops and pizza restaurants, bakeries and an old fashioned sweet shop. Best of all there is always something new and especially on a Saturday you never know what you may find.
A bar in Drayton Park opposite the Arsenal Football Stadium, the perfect venue for watching the world cup. Multinational staff and punter will ensure a competitive atmosphere, fantastic food and prosecco on tap. What more can you want?
020 7704 2387
66a, Drayton Park, London, N5 1ND
Google map: tinyurl.com/2wahhtd
Columbia Road is probably my favourite street in London. Open every Sunday, there is a flower market and a mass of independent shops, selling a brilliant selection of everything from jewellery, antiques and cupcakes, to furniture, vintage clothing, art and toys. You can expect honest, traditional service from the shopkeepers, and the cobbled streets and period shop fronts make for a charming backdrop.
Last year in December there was live music, mulled wine and mince pies on offer ... In my opinion it's the perfect way to warm up on a winter's evening, and avoid the high street Christmas crush!
This one of the best fish and chip, places in London. It has a restaurant as well, cheap and large portions.
Always full in the take-way and the restaurant is a lovely bistro style place, staff a good laugh. The Asian guy who owns it is very funny...
...walking along Southbank is one of the most beautiful ways to see various sites of London.
Starting from the London Eye, overlooking the Thames, Houses Parliament and Big Ben.
The Royal Festival Hall in particular, is an excellent meeting spot and place to chill... sometimes you get art or music for free in the foyer :) and there's a cafe and bar for refreshments!
There are plenty of tourist-friendly/child-friendly restaurants around here, big chains such as: Waggamama, Strada, Giraffe, also a pretty big "eat" (with great sandwiches, juices etc,.) a bookshop and music shop too... plus a regular book market outside the BFI, in the summer various free events outside, well worth checking out this area and just walking, walking, walking...
Great alternative theatrical dining experience. It's had sell-out performances across South Africa over the past two years. The show combines performances from contortionists, comedians and circus actors with a four-course meal and it would be a great Christmas experience.
Battersea Power Station - a 5 minute walk from Vauxhall tube station
We went to El Torero Loco for a quick after work drink - we ended up staying there all night! It really is a tapas place with a difference - stylish with a glamorous sofa area at the back. Great happy hour 5-7pm, with amazing cocktails. The tapas were divine - try the chorizo stew and gambas.
351 Fulham road, London (Chelsea)
Gloucester road or Fulham Broadway
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