This month’s Eating out in post comes from Frederica who blogs at Whatever Gets You Through The Day. Federica was born in Italy, but has been living in London for the past five years, and loves it a little bit more every day. She is as passionate about discovering new restaurants and cafes in town, as she is about cooking and baking
Over to Frederica…
Notting Hill is such a fascinating place: I’ve lived here for more than two years, and the list of local cafes and restaurants I wanted to visit started building up the very second I moved in! While new openings keep adding notes of liveliness and freshness to the area, I wanted to share a few of my favourites with you, so you’re never out of ideas on where to have coffee or lunch when you’re out and about.
Best for Portuguese custard tarts – Lisboa Patisserie (no website)
Lisboa Patisserie is an unassuming, strangely homely Portuguese cafe. If you’re looking for a lively atmosphere and a vast array of tempting food, it’s definitely worth a visit: the spartan decor, and the few small, shared tables will add up to the experience, rather than put you off.
The range of fresh pastries on display is impressive, and you’ll need multiple visits to try them all. Their signature bake, however, are pasteis de nata (custard tarts); even native Portuguese people recommend them without hesitation. Two pastries and a coffee will set you back less than £4 (unheard of in London). Be warned, though: Saturdays are crazy busy, with Portobello Market in full swing!
Best for chocolate cake – Kipferl
Eating and drinking at Kipferl is just lovely: you get to spend time in a quiet, relaxing setting, and treat yourself to Austrian delicacies you’ll hardly find elsewhere in London. Not at such small prices, at least; £4 for a coffee and a slice of cake is a bargain you’ll hardly find anywhere in the area (Lisboa Patisserie aside), and the savoury courses promise to fill your stomach without costing a fortune.
The mains I spotted (sausages, soups, and other hearty Central European dishes) come in generous portions, and the range of homemade sweet treats includes all the best-known staples: Linzer Torte, Apfelstrudel, Guglhupf, and many more. Whatever you do, don’t leave without trying Sachertorte: their take on the most famous Austrian chocolate cake is remarkably close to the original.
Best for atmosphere – Golborne Deli
Golborne Deli is the kind of place I’d have appreciated in my hometown, back in the days when weekend pleasures were as simple as enjoying endless catch-ups with friends that stretched into the early evening. Catchy pop music, played at a borderline acceptable volume, creates the perfect soundtrack for a merry get-together – and coffee and tea mugs are large enough to last you through the afternoon (or you can always go for seconds).
The food menu includes both Mediterranean choices such as paella and lasagne, and British breakfast dishes and sandwiches. I’ve tried a range of soups, all unfailingly tasty and warming; their toasted ciabatta sandwiches are also very nice, and you can spot some unusual combinations in the fillings, as well as typical Italian cheeses, cured meats and sauces.
Best for breakfast pastries – Bluebelles of Portobello
Shabby chic meets hip at Bluebelles of Portobello: picture mismatched vintage tables and chairs, wooden crates turned table displays, and a few more random but perfectly fitting items, such as a tree glistening with blinking lights, and a blackboard showing the cute quote of the day.
If you’re like me, their spectacular cake and pastry counter will lure you right in (their rich, flaky almond croissants are a favourite of mine). Savoury food lovers will find plenty of brunch options, including the evergreen eggs benedict, while healthy eaters will salute the presence of fresh fruit juices, and tall glasses of yoghurt with granola. Their selection of sandwiches hints that Bluebelles is a fine lunch spot for those lucky enough to pass by when the midday munchies start kicking in.
Best for comfort food – Lisa’s
Lisa’s has more in common with a converted British period house, than with the efficient, minimal style of many Scandinavian buildings. Its quirky decor gives it plenty of character, and its spacious dining room and high ceilings add to its relaxing atmosphere. On weekends, vacant tables are an unlikely sight, as brunch crowds love the place; you’ll be more likely to find a seat on weekdays.
Lisa’s menu is full of hearty mains, perfect to satisfy the fiercest comfort food cravings. All come in abundant portions; the fish gratin I’ve tried was more filling than my last Christmas meal (yes, you’ve heard that right). The bucket of Nordic Atlantic prawns is also remarkable: it’s served refreshingly cold, with warm bread and a pot of delicate aioli, and tastes lovely with a sprinkle of lemon juice.
Best for spring and summer days – Talkhouse
Some of Notting Hill’s pubs and coffee shops have outside seating, but few have a large back garden like Talkhouse. Whether you’re into artisan roasted coffee or not, it’s a great space to spend an enjoyable couple of hours, especially as spring kicks in.
The interior decor will immediately remind you of a hipstery East London cafe; the garden feels peaceful and welcoming, and has tables big enough to accommodate large groups as well as lone coffee lovers. If you stop and think that Talkhouse is steps away from the hustle and bustle of Portobello Road, you’ll find it hard to believe it can be so quiet!
Best for feeling cosy – Gail’s
Gail’s is my go-to spot when I’m in need of comfort. I enjoy taking a break in their large seating area on chilly days as much as I enjoy lounging in Talkhouse’s garden when the weather’s warmer; even on busy days, I feel I can get the privacy I need, and visiting in the early evening, when Portobello Road’s shops begin to close, is a guarantee for peace and quiet.
Their cappuccino is the creamiest I’ve had in Notting Hill so far, and the food in display on the counter looks beautiful, as if it had come straight out of a cookbook photoshoot. Every time I visit, my only regret is not being able to take it all home!
Best for Italian gelato – Gelato Mio
If you love gelato, and stop by in Notting Hill often, you’ll be quick to develop an addiction to Gelato Mio. Their pistachio and hazelnut flavours are among the richest in taste and most authentic I’ve had outside of Italy, and if you order coffee, tiramisu or Bacio (chocolate and hazelnut) gelato, you won’t be disappointed either.
I’m one to eat gelato in any season and with any weather, but if you’d rather keep it for the summer heatwaves, their waffles and hot chocolate (the thick European type, not the runny British version) are also worth a try. Plus, they have a loyalty card, which wins you a free cup or cone (of any size) after the tenth purchase. Enough said.
Best for healthy eaters – Daylesford
Daylesford hosts a bakery, a full-on restaurant, and an organic food store…all in the same place, at the swankiest end of Westbourne Grove. It sounds impressive, and it is, too: all the products they sell and ingredients they use are fresh, delivered daily from their Gloucestershire farm’s market garden.
If you’re looking to treat yourself, head there for lunch: the quality of the food stands out at every bite, and the mains are filling without being overly naughty. In fact, if you’re quite the healthy eater, there’s a wide range of vegetable and superfood salads to choose from. Prices can be quite steep, especially considering that portions are on the small side, but you’ll leave fulfilled.
Best for window shopping – Ottolenghi
Ottolenghi’s cafes require no presentation: if you’re into the food scene, you’ll know enough about Yotam Ottolenghi’s fine Middle-Eastern recipes to want to sample them in person. The truth is, I’ve never visited the Ottolenghi store on Ledbury Road, as if I did, I’d most certainly walk out without a wallet, a debit card, and a savings account! As I walk by on the way to work every day, all I see are savoury and sweet dishes that look right up my street. I crave everything, from aubergine and pomegranate salads to mini lemon cakes, from the healthiest meal to the sweetest treat. I’ll be there as fast as I can, as soon as my wallet’s fat enough to buy me a week-long supply of all that goodness.