I have not done one of these 'Dear Rachel' posts for a while, even though quite a few people have been emailing and Tweeting me questions. As I am away from London this Summer, one of the few things I have really been missing is the amazing choice of places to eat out (though I'm hoping to find some amazing new eateries to frequent in Los Angeles), so I had a lot of fun answering this question. If anyone has any questions you'd like me to answer, drop me an email or send me a tweet - I honestly don't mind!
It's my 21st Birthday in September and I'm thinking of heading to London with my boyfriend. I'm a massive foodie, and I don't want to spend a weekend in London and go to all the wrong places, I want to make this weekend perfect! Could you recommend some places to eat; breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as maybe a few good places for drinks?
Well, lets start with breakfast (it is usually what comes at the beginning!) In my mind, a Sunday morning in the city is not complete without a good breakfast or brunch, and if I had the time I think I would apply that to every weekday. Lets go to one of my favourite places in London: Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill. It is one of the most fashionable roads in the city and has some great shops, as well as a surprisingly calm atmosphere, even on a Saturday which is surprising as it is just off of Portobello Road (incidentally, if you go to brunch in Westbourne Grove in a Saturday morning, the market is a lot of fun to look around!). So, my favourite Westbourne Grove brunch spot is Bill Granger's restaurant Granger & Co. The food is amazing and I love the atmosphere. The iced tea is also the best blend I have ever tasted in my entire life. Usually, I find the new fashionable thing to do in restaurants, refuse to take bookings, rather irritating. However, while this is Granger & Co.'s policy, the food is well worth the wait and you can leave your name at the door and you get told when to come back so you can go off and explore the amazing area. As I said, there are some amazing shops and boutiques on Westbourne Grove, and the Oxfam shop on the corner has some of the most amazing designer finds I've ever seen in a charity shop before. If you're super hungry while you're waiting, you can pick up a pastry from Ottolenghi's around the corner. If you're lucky they'll have their cinnamon buns which are divine. However, if you really can't wait for your meal, Tom's Deli has the most amazing breakfasts, and 202 has a fantastic community atmosphere and a great clothing boutique in its basement.
Before I move onto lunch and dinner, I just wanted to suggest one of my favourite London afternoons which I have done several times. After brunch in Notting Hill, and if it is a Saturday a wander around the market, catch the N28 bus from Notting Hill Gate and stay on it until you reach Camden Town. Camden Locks is where I first visited, the first ever day I was left to my own devices in London, and while I don't really frequent the North of the city, I still love to spend an afternoon wondering around the eclectic stalls and amazing street food. They also have bubble tea and nitrogen ice cream! Once you're done there and you've eaten a very late mid afternoon lunch off of one of the street stalls, it is a short walk to Primrose Hill (find it on Google Maps) to visit The Primrose Bakery, which in my opinion has the best cupcakes in London. They are also a lot cheaper than most other cupcake boutiques in London too! After you've eaten walk back the way you came, but instead of heading back to Camden go straight and walk back into Central London through Regents Park, which is a beautiful walk any time of the year.
Right, lunch and dinner. Lets start with one of my favourite London eateries which I frequent for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktails: The Diner. I literally cannot get enough of this all American eatery, which has locations in SoHo, Covent Garden and Shoreditch. From the menu, my picks would be the Sweet Potato Fries, the Tortilla Dog, Blueberry Pancakes, the Breakfast Burrito, the Virgin Mary's and the Southern Iced Tea!
As for bars, you can't go wrong by heading to Covent Garden. Its a bit pricy but I can't recommend my favourite bar int he city; Circus enough. I think the amazing cabaret and burlesque performances make up for the costly (but totally delicious) cocktail menu. I also like going down the road to Foundation which has good drinks, a great underground chic atmosphere and amazing bar food and pizzas.
I've covered Central, West and North London, but lets not forget my old stomping ground of East London. If you are at all into vintage shopping head over the the Blitz Vintage Department Store which is incredibly laid out and just about the only vintage store I enjoy shopping in. I try to head in there ever time I have a few spare moments on Brick Lane. Also, if you head East down Brick Lane, head towards Shoreditch High Street station and right next to it is Boxpark, which is a totally awesome pop up shopping centre made out of shipping containers. There is also a wonderful sun deck with different food places for dinner. However, if nothing there takes your fancy you are only a stones throw away from my favourite takeaway burritos in London. Head back to Spitalfields and turn down the side street opposite Patisserie Valerie. There you will find Poncho No8 - I really wish they would open one in Canterbury!
I hope this has given you some ideas for what you could do (and eat) in London this September!