chicama-chelsea

The borough of Kensington and Chelsea parcels London sophistication into one neat little package; a postcard of leafy gardens, ornate black railings, cobbled mews, designer boutiques, tiny dogs and beautiful people (cue: the Made in Chelsea theme tune).

It has long been the home of London’s most exclusive bars, member’s clubs and shops – Raffles, Vivienne Westwood, Kensington Roof Gardens, to name but a few – and was once the centre of city’s music scene; a playground for a stylish boho set. But sky-rocketing price tags began to drive that personality out, giving it a reputation of outdated glitz and tourist traps.

All is not lost, however. Delve a little deeper and you’ll find plenty of that old soul alongside an influx of new bars and restaurants. We’ve picked out the best places in this polished London enclave – which is certainly not just for cash-rich chihuahua clutchers.

Bread Ahead

Pick up freshly baked loaves, croissants and a fistful of oozing doughnuts at the Chelsea branch of this iconic bakery. Not only can you grab a coffee and browse the day’s pastry offerings at this little nook on Pavilion Road; go one step further and learn how to make them yourself at their in-house cooking school, which offers everything from introductions to French baking to how to make perfect sourdough.

Granger & Co.

Now a certified restaurant don, Bill Granger has expanded his mini empire by opening another branch of his eternally popular Aussie-style eatery Granger & Co. This one offers the same global, sun-drenched dishes as the others, with staples like crumbly coconut toast, ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter and brioche rolls topped with chilli fried eggs, all on offer until a leisurely 12PM. Drinks include killer bloody marys, cacao smoothies and fresh juices, as well as Allpress coffee and some seriously good cold brew. Later in the day, expect more seasonal cooking in the form of virtuous grain bowls, fish curries and barbecue dishes. Downstairs, you’ll find Chelsea locals gathered in front of a giant brassy bar, while the elegant dining room upstairs gives a little nod to Bill Granger’s passion for the modern restaurants of Tokyo – think 70s vibes with fresh flowers, gold finishes, peach-coloured leather booths, big windows and a cracking playlist.

London Cheesemongers

Just as we were starting to think that the whole of Chelsea had gone dairy free, we happened upon this little cheese shop just up the street from Granger & Co. Their counter is chock a (cheddar) block full of traditional cheeses with delectable chutneys, more-ish crackers and interesting booze to go with them.

Tom's Kitchen

Stylish locals pour into this friendly pub-turned-brasserie, done up like a farmhouse with glossy white tiles, scuffed wooden sharing tables, a curved marble bar and portraits of local farmers with chickens in tow. The food is British, seasonal and damn satisfying – no surprise given that this is Tom Aikens’ lovechild. For breakfast, it’s got to be French toast – topped with caramelised apples and vanilla ice cream, it’s big enough to pitch a tent on. The spatchcock chicken comes with charred broccoli and a spelt salad, while their egg dishes are so good they’ve spilled over on onto the lunch menu. A burger is often the litmus test of a good restaurant; this hunk of glistening beef, pickles, bouncy bun and golden hand-cut chips is perfection.

Iddu

It probably helped that we were sitting next to a woman sipping an espresso and barking Italian down the phone, but a visit to this little corner café feels a lot like slipping into Sicily for the afternoon. Drop by on a sunny day to sip strong coffee and fresh pastries under the orange-and-white awning, or for a simply delicious lunch of tagliolini with homemade pesto and burrata.

Maitre Choux

There’s arguably nothing sweeter or more elegant than an éclair. Maitre Choux is a whitewashed patisserie specialising in these cream-filled fingers of heaven. We’d say they look too good to eat, but we’d be lying. Buy a box and head straight home. Alone.

Cuisine de Bar By Poilâne

Hailing from Paris, this chic bakery has been producing fine baked goods since 1932. This bright, airy outpost in Cadogan Gardens dishes up some of the best sandwiches in the area, piling seasonal ingredients onto their pillowy, lovingly made bread, which has been handmade using recipes perfected over the last 80 years.

D. McKay Fruiterer

You may have noticed the army of gym bunnies bouncing around in expensive Lycra in this part of London. While there are abundant juice bars and health food cafés to pump them with nutrients, we prefer this historic fruit and veg shop which serves up fresh juices squeezed from the organic produce on sale. Here, you can slurp on anything from fresh OJ to celery, cucumber and spinach, pomegranate and watermelon. Just don’t ask for bee pollen.

  • 020 7584 1929
  • 19A Harrington Road
    Kensington
    SW7 3ES

Phat Phuc

Well-heeled locals hit up this neighbourhood noodle bar when only pho will do – which in our experience is on a hangover, when nothing beats a salty bowl of goodness. Naughtily named Phat Phuc has gained cult status for some of the best broth in West London, creamy laksas and refreshing noodle salads. Eat in the outdoor courtyard, or at the little window by the entrance.

Café de Nata

Our obsession with Portugal is largely attributable to their traditional custard tarts – if you don’t already know, get to know. This hole-in-the-wall café right by South Kensington tube churns out handmade pastéis de nata; crumbly, buttery tarts fill to the brim with smooth custard. Don’t mess about with just one.

Browns & Rosie

If you’re dilly-dallying about where to go, head to Exhibition Square where you’ll find upmarket chains like Fernandez & Wells with plenty of outdoor seating. Close by, Browns & Rosie is a favourite among cool cat locals, who pour like Kooples couples for Aussie-style brunches, colourful salads and fresh Pablo & Rusty’s coffee. The rustic, homely interior is comfortable enough to bed down in for an entire afternoon – ideal after a morning at the museums.

  • 020 7589 9817
  • Go to Website
  • 10-12 Exhibition Road
    Kensington
    SW7 2HF

Peggy Porschen

When you’ve quite finished posing outside the flowery, candy-pink exterior of this sophisticated Belgravia bakery, you’ll find homemade cakes, cupcakes and every other afternoon tea delight you can imagine inside. We only wish our parents’ had bought our childhood birthday cakes from here.

Chicama

Inspired by the food of coastal Peru, this millennial-pink gem single-handedly changed our opinion of Chelsea’s dining scene. It has a sunny, plant-filled patio at the back, a dining room done up in blushing encaustic tiles, a marble bar and candy-coloured velvet booths, with sharing dishes served on mismatched, ceramic plates and bowls in earthy pastel shades. Order a biting pisco sour and peru(se) the menu while you snack on a few popped-corn monkfish cheeks. Their fish comes fresh from Cornwall daily, thrown on the grill and arriving whole with avocado and jalapeño, or mango and hot aji chillies. Don’t miss the blackened octopus or turmeric-stained mussel curry.

Chicama

Bread Ahead

Granger & Co.

London Cheesemongers

Tom’s Kitchen

Iddu

Maitre Choux

Poilaine

D. McKay Fruiterer

Phat Phuc

Café de Nata

Browns & Rosie

Peggy Porschen

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