Nothing can really be totally ‘hidden’ when it’s located anywhere around Charlotte Street in the heart of London’s Soho, but Pierre Victoire still manages to survive as a snug little gem among its brassier, busier neighbours. Located on Dean Street, its long, narrow layout and piano in the corner, friendly staff and affordable prices mean it’s always a welcoming little home away from home and keeps the regulars coming back for more of the hearty fare on offer. The moules-frîtes in white wine and fresh seafood dishes are particular favourites, but you’ll be more than satisfied with a cheese board and some fabulously french baguette bread plus a carafe or two of their excellent wine selection.
Just down the road and not too far from this national neck of the woods, the Spanish tapas restaurant Navarro’s serves up traditional and tempting small plates of mouth-wateringly good Iberian produce. From mini portions of paella to scampi in garlic and oil, paper-thin slithers of cured ham and a Russian-Roulette plate of Pimientos Del Padrón, this is as authentic a tapas experience as you’re likely to salsa into outside the homeland. The wines are very fairly priced, delicious and slip down as easily as the atmosphere in this friendly, cosy little nook just off Charlotte Street. Large groups can be catered for as well, and there’s even a paved terrace area for the sunnier days that are nearly upon us…
Head a little to the North and London will reward your efforts with the rolling hills (no really) and grand terraced houses of Hampstead. Bordering the vast Heath and known as the ‘Village”, this is one of the leafiest, most tranquil and sought-after areas of the capital, with innumerable local neighbourhood bars, cafes and restaurants that mean residents would never actually have to venture past the borough’s limits to stay well fed and watered. One such institution is the Crêperie de Hampstead: still cooking and serving out of the little white van the creators puttered up in over 30 years ago, the Crêperie serves pancakes, and only pancakes. You can devour them filled with savoury ham, egg and cheese, spinach and egg, or head straight for dessert with the classic banana and Nutella, but either way, devour them you must. There will always be a queue, because the Crêperie is deservedly well-loved and thus frequented, but this is fast-food to be eaten straight away on-the-go, so the lines move quickly and really only enhances the delayed gratification element.
Just to the East of Hampstead, Crouch End is well known as a favourite haunt of artists, musicians and actors. A residential but quietly happening corner of London, one of its local gems is undeniably the Italian Fabrizio Restaurant. Honest family recipes passed down through the generations to preserve properly traditional Italian classics such as baked gnocchi, spaghetti with bolognese sauce and mushroom, pizza by the metre (you don’t actually have to eat a whole metre of it, they will slice it proportionately), risottos and so much more mean this fresh favourite retains its recipe for success.
Finally, Ffiona’s. This time you can try out our own home-grown national dishes, served up in the elegant surroundings of this pocket of West London. One of the oldest, family-run restaurants in the capital today continues to produce traditional British food with a contemporary twist. Dishes include pan-UK specialities such as Scottish beef, Devon scallops, Welsh hill farm lamb and outdoor bred pork, plus the delectable fish and chips are also of course always on offer. The brunch menus are something close to perfection for a lazy weekend morning spent reading the papers in this relaxed, welcoming, picture-perfect corner of Kensington.
So now you’ve got your trove of treasures to uncover for yourselves, all that’s left to do is pick your dates, book your every hotels room and start planning your menu!