Climpson & Sons, Broadway Market
Photographs: David Straight
Clove Club I’ve always dreamed of finding a very simple restaurant (wooden tables, denimed waiters, casual but good service, pottery plates) that served wildly adventurous, delicate food. This is it. Inside the old Shoreditch Town Hall, the Clove Club serves whimsical, gorgeous degustation menus that, accompanied by their inspired wine flight are something verging on phenomenal. Happily for vegetarians, there is an entirely considered degustation menu just for them – crafted, not an afterthought. No a la carte, book months in advance. Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St, London EC1V 9LT +44 20 7729 6496
Pavilion Victoria Park is often overlooked for bigger, more exciting options like London Fields or Hyde Park. I prefer its quiet areas and this cafe in its centre is much of the reason why. Coffee with milk direct from their Sussex farm, fresh pastries, fluffy ricotta pancakes, a very good sausage sandwich – it’s a weekly Sunday destination. For lunch, the Sri Lankan breakfast is wondrous – gently spiced and warming lentil curry, whole boiled eggs, stringhoppers (what a great name for a nest of noodles!) and coconut sambal. Watch out for ducks. thepavilioncafe.com
Broadway Market No Saturday is complete for me without a trip to Broadway. I pick up vegetables, British cheeses, organic meat and eggs, Climpson’s coffee, table wine from Borough (5 pounds ina refillable glass bottle) and flowers. Then, I try something new from one of the snack stalls that seem to be ever expanding – a black pudding toastie, a steamed pork bun from Bao Bun, a scallop and bacon buttie, a Persian wrap. Broadway Market, London Fields.
Leila’s I always feel so wholesome after a Leila’s breakfast. The uncomplicated menu, wooden tables that always seem to sit in a patch of sunshine and Arnold Circus location feel very Gentlewoman magazine. Have the sage eggs (buttery, served in a Le Creuset pan and accompanied with cut-your-cheeks crusty sourdough), freshly squeezed ruby grapefruit juice and a milky coffee. Calvert Avenue, Arnold Circus
Towpath Café The ex-food writer owner of this canalside café is delightfully stubborn. No takeaways, no card payments, no soy milk, only open in summer. It’s pleasantly disheveled and the food is gorgeous – simple French and Italian standards of the freshest produce. I recently enjoyed a Campari and soda in the sunshine before tender bavette steak with green beans and pickled walnuts followed by coffee and a slice of olive oil cake. Open 9am ‘til dusk on weekends, 8am til dusk on weekdays. Regent’s Canal towpath London N1 5SB – no phone, no website, no bookings. Watch out for cyclists.
G&T: A hole-in-the-wall oasis of healthy in grimy Bethnal Green, this is where I stop for my morning green juice and almond milk flat white on the way to the office. It’s also good for the not so virtuous – their coffee and cake is exemplary. gandtlondon.co.uk
Bistrotheque: For burgers served on proper plates, big birthday dinners and fancy Sunday brunch (with mimosas). bistrotheque.com
Rita’s: Pale pink booths, watermelon ‘ritas, swish take on American diner food. ritasbaranddining.com
Tonkotsu East: Best ramen in town – handmade noodles, lush, rich pork bone broth, Japanese craft beers. tonkotsu.co.uk
Rochelle Canteen: Margot Henderson’s converted bike shed is pleasingly simple, as is the menu. New potatoes. Green Salad. Crab and toast. Cheese. A pragmatic list that belies the tastiness of the dishes. No booze, but it doesn’t matter. arnoldandhenderson.com