Located in the original 1924 Bluebird Garage, then the largest in Europe, Bluebird has a brasserie, pit-stop café and a new deli bursting with delicious French and Italian treats. It now also boasts its own impeccably-edited fashion store, with an ever-changing mix of such fresh designer labels as Bella Freud, Mint and Park Vogel.
Cha Cha Moon
Famed restaurateur Alan Yau (the man behind Michelin-star Hakkasan and fun dimsum eatery Yauatcha) has opened a new Soho spot for those on a budget (perfect for those disadvantaged by the current exchange rate). Every dish is priced at £3.50 (about $6.50), there’s a no-trimmings approach (you’re given three choices of wine: red, white and rosé). Within a few weeks of opening, the lines are already down the block.
Chin Chin Laboratories
Europe’s first ‘liquid nitrogen’ ice cream parlor has just opened in Camden, north London. The Chin Chin Laboratories are an ice cream parlour and candy shop. Instead of freezers, there’s a 180-liter tank of nitrogen and staff wearing leather gloves and safety helmets. They’re working on such concoctions as glow-in-the-dark ice cream and ice cream noodles. Started by a former city broker and marketing consultant, Chin Chin takes its inspiration from such top chefs as Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal. The couple have been researching ‘nitro’ ice cream for almost two years before opening this cutting-edge new shop.
Cuisine de Bar
Fans of mouth-watering, French artisanal Poilâne bread should flock to this small restaurant headed by Poilâne, the first in the UK. In a central location near Sloane Square, Cuisine de Bar is an ideal place to have a meal or snack while shopping or seeing the Saatchi Gallery’s latest show, all at the nearby Duke of York Square. Customers can order up the famous tartines or signature loaves throughout the day.
Lady Carole Bamford’s eye for detail wins again at Daylesford’s Pimlico setting, her latest. The gleaming white marble interior and handmade willow staircase are exquisite, as is the shop’s selection of cheeses (especially the cheddar). After antiquing on the Pimlico Road (don’t miss Gordon Watson’s new shop at No. 28), stop here for a cappuccino and a slice of apple, chestnut or pecan pie.
Fernandez & Wells
Described as a ‘European market stall in an English setting’, this lively food and wine bar is not for those on a diet, serving cured meats, cheese and bread piled high on the oak counter (which becomes a bar in the evening). Perfect when you need something more than a quick coffee, you can also visit their nearby sister café (on Beak Street) and espresso bar (in St Anne’s Court).
Better known for his appetite for cutting-edge art, collector Charles Saatchi just opened Gallery Mess, a casual brasserie housed in a dining room that boasts Georgian architecture and walls adorned with modern art. Mess serves delicious, affordable food all day, from breakfast to afternoon tea and dinner. The food is provided by top-of-the-line London caterers Rhubarb. Best of all, Gallery Mess is attached to the Saatchi Gallery just off the Kings Road, in case you get an appetite for more of Saatchi’s incomparable collection. 9 a.m.–11.30 p.m. daily.
Jak’s Walton Street
What started out as a small café and organic food shop on Walton Street has expanded and the cozy bistro now offers delicious take-away as well as meals in its casual dining room.
The legendary department store Liberty of London has jumped on the fashion cafeteria bandwagon by opening a new Champagne and oyster bar where shoppers can refuel with bubbly, including chairman Richard Balfour-Lynn’s own award-winning vintages.
Take a shopping pit stop over a cup of tea and guilty pleasure dessert at this off-shoot of well-established restaurant Mildreds (next door). The fig frangipane tart and white chocolate and pistacho cheesecake, plus the kitsch 1940s pin up décor, make it a must-try detour. Open Mon – Fri 8am to 6pm, Saturday 12pm – 6pm.
Nicole’s of Nicole Farhi
Located beneath the Nicole Fahri shop on New Bond Street, Nicole’s minimalist dining room is top choice for lunch or a glass of wine while hitting the area’s swish boutiques. The Mediterranean-inspired menu, while not adventurous, serves reliably fresh and simple salads and grilled fish as well as heavier fare for those not watching their waistline. Closed Sunday.
At these convivial neighborhood bakeries, London’s beloved Israeli-born chef and cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi transports his patrons to aromatic lands south and east of the Mediterranean. Ottolenghi’s countertops, fragrant with dukkah and za’atar, lavishly display tarts, cakes and canapés of vibrant green, crimson and violet. The assortment is quite literally a feast for the eyes – one feels revitalized just gazing at it. Enlightened pastries are seasoned with Iranian lime, pomegranate molasses, and lemon myrtle salt, though traditionalists will be very content with a cappuccino and an inspired almond croissant. Ottolenghi is perfect for breakfast, lunch or a quick break between boutiques.
A favorite of Nathalie Hambro.
“The Rose Bakery, a small café located on the fourth floor of the Dover Street Market, is owned by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons and her husband Adrian Joffe. It’s the perfect place to drop after shopping for tea and a snack. You’ll find all manner of left-field designs and cutting-edge curios as well as stars from the fashion world munching on the bakery’s scrumptious fare. Look for the cookbook, Breakfast, Lunch, Tea (Phaidon Press), written by Adrian’s sister, Rose Carrarini.”
This is a fun place for lunch or a casual dinner. With its pewter bar and contemporary design, it’s the ideal spot to drop in for a delicious tartine (open-faced sandwich on Poilâne bread), salad or fish and chips. I loved my tartine of goat cheese and chargrilled vegetables while my teen daughter thought her grilled squid, rocket, sweet chilli jam and fresh lime was worth coming back for. It’s a simple menu, but it hits the spot.
Best of all: Tartine is located in the heart of South Ken’s shopping district across the street from Jean Paul Gaultier’s boutique. My ever-observant teen spotted the French designer checking out his designs, giving Tartine that extra edge. Reservations are accepted for parties of six or more.
A hip hangout owned by Sir Terence Conran’s son, Tom’s Deli has a buzzing café and a deli section that’s filled with cakes, chocolates and other treats.