With Restaurant Week in Hampstead just around the corner, we’re already planning seven days of delicious dining in one of our favourite London hotspots.
We love great food but we don’t always love to cook, especially after a days hard graft. So when we heard about the inaugural Hampstead Restaurant Week, which is set to run from 15-21 September, we didn’t hesitate to ditch our shopping list and mentally munch our way through the menus of the participating restaurants, cafés and pubs. Here’s our guide to getting the most out of a blissful week of eating out…
Start the day at The Coffee Cup, which has been serving a morning cuppa to the stars since 1951. Little has changed since Betty Grable sauntered her sassy style through its doors, and while Dudley Moore has been eclipsed by Russell Brand as its best bohemian customer, The Coffee Cup continues to serve a great breakfast.
If you need breakfast to go, you can do no better than Gail’s artisan bakery. It’s hard to resist its windows, piled high with high quality breads and pastries that smell as good as they look. Don’t resist, enjoy every melting mouthful.
If the little green mermaid leaves you awash with milk and you find the uniform flavour of high street coffee shops distinctly lacking, head to Ginger & White. Using seasonal beans, hand-roasted in East London, this is a cup of joe that you will remember all day long, until you pop back next morning for a repeat. It’s the kinda groundhog experience we don’t mind.
French by name and most definitely in the delicious patisserie, baguettes and cups of coffee that it serves up. Eggs en cocotte transport us back to summers in the South of France – daydream away a lazy morning here with the morning papers.
Now we know we said no cooking, but this is a butcher with a difference, as it’s also a delicatessen and charcuterie (delicious takeaway nibbles) and wine merchant. With a late Indian summer, picnic on the Heath still counts as eating out in our book.
Moving onto lunch, we’re big fans of The Flask, which has been serving locals since Victorian times. The name has a curious tale – apparently a spring used to run down the heath and its medicinal water was given to the poor. We’re more fond of its contemporary wines and ales, delicious with a menu that includes breads from Gail’s.
For a more contemporary scene, turn to The Horseshoe, which is a weekend wonder thanks to its lunchtime dish of the day plus drink for £8, well-sourced wines and creative Camden Town Brewery ales. Arrive early to avoid the rush.
Award-winning, imaginative and seasonal menus are just the starting point for this pub, which has been a local favourite for more than a decade. Nestled between the Heath and village, it’s full of Hampstead charm.
New kid on the block Aubaine is as French as a Paris salon and has a menu that reflects its chic décor. We highly recommend the cheese board to share and, if you’re feeling full of bonhomie, pair it with a bottle of Pouilly-Fumé for a quintessentially continental experience. Don’t miss their special Jazz Evening on Tuesday 16th September to liven up your Hampstead Restaurant Week experience.
As Aubaine is French, L’Antica Pizzeria is authentically Italian. The names may be cutesy, with slices of Sophia Loren, Caravaggio or Giuseppe Verdi on offer, but the taste is Neapolitan through and through. As you might imagine, families are welcome and the atmosphere is exuberant. Bellissimo!
Just up the road, La Gaffe has been welcoming guests to its hotel and restaurant since 1962. Created by a Cypriot and Italian couple, La Gaffe means ‘the mistake’, referring to the meeting of cultures in the unlikely setting of North West London – as mistakes go, it’s a pretty good one by our reckoning.
Again, not what you might typically expect of London life, but Woodlands is Hampstead’s only Indian vegetarian restaurant. As niche as it sounds, the food is homemade and utterly delicious, so be prepared to lose any preconceptions at the door and enjoy a sumptuous Asian feast.
Where you started the day, you can almost end it, in the safe hands of Villa Bianca which also owns The Coffee Cup. With live music this is the full-blown Italian dining experience, so relax and pretend that you’re in a little trattoria in a pretty village – well, this is Hampstead, after all.
If you’d like to make Hampstead and its fabulous restaurants part of your everyday scene contact us now.
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