The innovative meets the unpredictable at The Modern Pantry: with a ground-floor cafe that includes an airy terrace overlooking St John’s Square, first floor restaurant and the pantry (deli) itself all under one roof. Open all day long, you can sample an internationally-influenced three course menu, order birthday cake or take a sandwich away for lunch – the brunch menu is substantial and ranges from the standard eggs on toast to the more unusual curry leaf waffles. Asian and Aussie flavours complement plenty of seasonal British fare (wild garlic, purple sprouting broccoli). The signature dish is a sugar-cured prawn omelette with chilli, coriander and spring onion, which matches perfectly with a blackcurrant and liquorice sorbet – yes seriously.
For more emphasis on tradition in both the cooking and the concept, the Bonnie Gull Seafood Cafe will have you hankering back to beach holidays and seaside souvenirs: located just of foodie-haven Exmouth Market, there are around 20 tables spread about the (with any luck) sunny terrace. The decor here is beach-shack chic, with ship lights, whitewashed wood, low lighting and jukeboxes sending out some gentle Northern Soul tunes. The food is old-school, 100% British, responsibly sourced fresh catches, from crab rolls to razor clams, seared scallops and mains of whole grilled fish, it’s as unfussy as it is irresistible. Even if you’re not quite hungry enough for the full spread, sit back and be transported with the special summer cocktail menu – crafted especially for the warmer weather and to be enjoyed as an afternoon aperitivo, if possible.
Dishoom is a louche London take on the traditional old Irani cafes of Bombay: serving up cafe-style food at diplomatic prices, it’s filled with retro, whirring ceiling fans, low lighting and walls covered with vintage Indian magazine advertising. Generally packed from breakfast (nan rolls with chilli jam) to dinner (stir-fries and tandoori grills) and filled in the intervening hours by passersby craving birianis, pau bhaji (toasted white bread rolls with a spicy vegetable stew) and refillable chai, they also serve wine by the glass and soft drinks imported from Mumbai – perfect for reviving the spirits on a warm summer’s afternoon, lounging on their sunny, indulgent terrace filled with comfy sofas, exotic plants, oil lamps and rugs so plush you could curl up and spend all summer (or winter) on them.
In need of a lie-down just reading about all these fresh-air foodstuffs? every hotel Piccadilly is within easy access of even more hotspots to whet your appetite for the best of summer in London.