I’m terrible when I’m away for a weekend break or a holiday. So much of the structure of my day revolves around food, and when I went away for the weekend for my 40th, we certainly made the most of places to eat in London.
The main place we’d booked in advance was afternoon tea at The Delaunay on the Sunday. I’d planned that we should book in advance to try out some fancy restaurants, but my friend was much more relaxed and we ended up just finding places as we reached them.
I always prefer to eat in places that have been recommended, but trying to filter places online can be difficult. We used Google Maps on our phones while we were there, just looking up the restaurants and cafes near us. And it turned out really well, with us not having a bad meal the whole weekend.
Here’s some places we enjoyed the food and atmosphere at around London.
Locale Italian restaurant
(Belvedere Road, behind County Hall, South Bank)
The reviews online are mixed (if you can even find it online), but we had a lovely meal. The restaurant is just off the main area the tourists are walking, and at a weekend we missed all the office workers. The menu was simple Italian food, and although the service was a little slow – it was quite busy – and the tables are a little close together, the food was really good.
I had a chicken caesar salad which was delicious, and my friend had the risotto which she enjoyed. The portion sizes were just right for lunch, although you could choose a smaller start size or the standard size for many of the dishes. I was surprised that there wasn’t a set lunch offer, but for the 2 main courses and 2 drinks it came to just under £20 which wasn’t too bad.
Café Tarte – Italian deli/cafe
We were heading to see 18 Stafford Terrace on the Sunday and decided that there would be lots of cafes in Kensington High Street to eat lunch at. Or maybe not on a Sunday. We ended up walking all the way down to Holland Park and further, and found ourselves at Café Tarte, a little Italian place.
It wasn’t that busy, but the cakes looked divine and there was hot food on the menu which worked given we were having afternoon tea later.
We chose pastas – mine was a delicious carbonara, which were a decent size but not too big for lunch. The drinks ranged from the usual hot drinks to delicious healthy smoothies and juices. Mine was apple, raspberry and a bit of ginger and was so nice. Not too gingery which is always the danger.
We decided against cakes given our later booking but how amazing did the ones in the window look. It was definitely a nice find and good to get somewhere a bit further out than the main high street coffee shops.
Penang – Malaysian
(Westfield Shopping Centre, Shepherds Bush)
I’d presumed we’d eat out centrally in the evenings but because we were some way out and it would have meant heading back into town again and probably booking, we decided we’d just eat around Westfield. There’s a good selection of restaurants – from well known, to more independent places. On the first night we decided on Penang, a small Malaysian restaurant on the main walk way area into the shopping centre.
It was quite packed on the Saturday night, even though it was still fairly early, which I always take as a good sign. The prices were brilliant, and while it wasn’t a massive menu, there was enough choice for us. They do a tapas style menu option, but we decided on main dishes each.
For starters I had chicken satay which is one of my favourite dishes and although I was very jealous at the look of my friend’s vegetable gyoza parcels. For main, I chose the chicken Mee Goreng Penang, while my friend had Pad Thai noodles. Both went down really well – plenty of chicken, veg and flavour.
Given the limited choice on desserts, we paid up and headed off to buy cookies from Bens Cookies for pudding. The service and the food definitely made Penang worth another visit.
Afternoon tea at the Delaunay
I love the idea of afternoon tea, not just the cakes but also getting the chance to eat in some beautiful, usually old fashioned restaurants and hotels. The Delaunay was recommended to us for afternoon tea, and we had no problem booked for late afternoon. What’s also good is that there’s no specific dress code, so no need for me to put a dress on.
The Delaunay is a beautiful place once inside. The style is old, it makes you feel like you’re in a venue of the 1930s – no flapper girls but certainly not far off the art deco era. We liked that the barriers between tables are quite wide, so you don’t feel like you’re sitting on top of your neighbours and conversations don’t carry. But then it was really busy and loud with chatter so maybe that helped as well.
Our waitress was lovely, and was able to explain the mysterious German cakes we asked about. We decided on the straight afternoon tea, and rather than choosing between scones and the german cakes, we were able to try both. We also requested no salmon for the sandwiches which they were also able to cater for.
I’m not a tea drinker (I know, going for afternoon tea and not drinking tea!), so ordered a hot chocolate instead. It was mammoth, and very delicious once I’d managed to get through the cream. Yum.
While the cakes were a little more traditional, the savoury bites were a mixed bag. We had duck on mini bagels, egg mayo on rye bread, savoury cheese ‘custard creams’ and aubergine pate on rye. I wasn’t that fussed on any of them. I prefer a bog standard sandwich rather than fussy breads, and I’m not keen on condiments either. The cakes were much more my thing.
We were pleased we asked for the scones because the german cakes didn’t have much taste. But the miniature pastries and cakes were delicious and as pretty as you’d expect from an afternoon tea. We couldn’t eat them all up so the waitress offered to box them up for us to take away.
As we were at The Delaunay for one of their latest afternoon tea slots, we saw lots of other people having pre-theatre dinner. The food looked good coming out and it’s definitely somewhere I would eat again for a special occasion. There was a real mix of customers, so it wasn’t stuffy and there’s wasn’t an expectation to rush through your meal. With afternoon tea costing £24.95 per person (or £29.95 for prosecco afternoon tea), it’s not going to break the bank either
Alternative places for afternoon tea in London (according to my journalist friend)
- Ham Yard Hotel – scones are smaller than expected, but you get some really interesting treats
- Sketch – one of the best afternoon teas in London
- Dandelyan at the Mondrian hotel – comes highly recommended by my friend’s dining editor
Do you go out for afternoon tea? Where do you recommend to eat in London?
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