We’ve got two new favourite places to eat in central London, both in locations that have formerly been a little thin on the good food front.
For years, we’ve struggled to find anywhere decent to eat in Paddington. Aside from the Frontline Club or the tiny Monocle Kioskcafe, we’ve never found anywhere and, returning from Somerset, we once ended up meeting a friend for overpriced wine in what was the unlovely Sloe Bar in Paddington station. Those days are firmly behind us, now that The Pilgrm Hotel has opened, serving food and drinks throughout the day. Thrillingly, The Pilgrm is visible from the station so it really is little more than a hop, skip and a jump from the train platforms. Breakfast is inspired: with a lovely kimchi rice and tea-poached egg dish or a buffet of sourdough, pastries, fresh fruit and yoghurt to kick off the day. There is even “toast” made out of sweet potatoes and served with guacamole for anyone wheat-dodging. A relaxed all day menu is available for the rest of the day, featuring plates of British charcuterie, a dhal of the day or a wild mushroom and dolcelatte toastie that we are yet to try. Unless you’ve got a meeting that involves spreading out papers, we would suggest you skip the booth-like seating in the café and head to the cosier lounge.
Like many others, we loved Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch but it wasn’t exactly on our doorstep. So we hurried off to the ICA when founders Margot Henderson (wife of St John’s Fergus) and Melanie Arnold opened a second premises there last month (on the inspired invitation of new ICA director Stefan Kalmár, formerly of Artists Space New York.) The restaurant retains the spartan, modern feeling that the ICA has always had with it’s minimalist white walls and white Alvar Aalto furniture. But the food is most definitely not spartan. It’s rich, full and flavoursome, we’d even go so far as to describe it as hearty. The menu changes daily but when we went there was pheasant and trotter pie, harissa-spiced spatchcocked quail with aoili and brill with lentils. We couldn’t quite manage pudding but our co-diner raved about the meringue and quince ice-cream. Looking out at the autumnal trees on the Mall, we couldn’t wait to come back, this time perhaps combining both the latest art show and booking in for yet another delicious lunch.