As this time of year London looks irresistibly, lip-smackingly gorgeous. We’ve got a (pop up) beach, acres of green parkland and plenty of beer gardens and rooftop bars. But what about eating out? I don’t mean grabbing a big Mac and scoffing it on the only square foot of scorched grass you can find, but a proper eating place, with waiters, cocktails and a decent, tasty meal in dappled sunlight. It may seem a lot to ask but there are a few hidden gems, so we thought we would share them with you…
Best Al Fresco Dining In Central & West London
If people-watching is your thing, this beautiful oasis on the King’s Road is well worth a visit. The follow up to the original Soho Ivy has been a hit since opening its doors in 2015 and that doesn’t look like changing any time soon. The garden is one of the lushest dining spots in London and perfect for whiling away many a wallet-emptying hour on magnums of Whispering Angel rosé. You can’t book for outside, so if it’s a sunny day, be sure to get there early doors for a garden table. Although with rugs, heat-lamps and a fire pit you’ll be warm even when the sun’s gone away.
Tucked away in the opulent, pastel-hued streets just west of Ladbroke Grove, Casa Cruz is something of a hidden gem. The small terrace is off the first floor and nestled among some huge leafy trees making it feel like you’re dining in a tree house. The cuisine is South American and, to my taste buds at least, utterly delicious, although the menu may not appeal to fussier eaters.
It is quite extraordinary when one minute you are in the hustle and bustle of tourist-packed Oxford Street, drowning in Primark bags, and the next you are in an immaculate country garden in the sky, complete with sheds, deck-chairs and all manner of other wonderful things. Recently invited to an event here, I was shown around the garden sheds, each offering a different dining experience. You can book a shed for a group, which I fully intend to do this summer. The rooftop menu is limited and fairly simple but effective – whether you’re after a burger or a kale salad, you’ll find something to your liking.
The leafy terrace outside the hugely popular Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone is the perfect spot for a sunny breakfast. I had the pleasure of feasting on my favourite smashed avocado and poached eggs on toast in the dappled sunshine last week. If you wait long enough, you’ll be sure to spot a celeb popping into André Balazs’ latest 5 star hotel. It’s damn hard to book a table in the restaurant for dinner, and the food, while looking promising on the menu (chef is Michelin starred Nuno Mendes) was underwhelming in reality. However, book for breakfast on a day with promising weather and enjoy your Eggs Benedict in an wonderfully civilised setting.
Situated in the carpark above the old BBC Television Centre at White City, Pergola has become a hit pop up over the last few years. Scheduled for conversion into flats in the coming years, for now, from Spring till Autumn, it becomes a outdoor dining and drinking destination for hundreds of West Londoners. It’s worth making a reservation before going, because it does get jam-packed at popular times and they might not let you in without one. Consisting of a large, central, poorly organised bar and four pop up restaurants selling street food from burgers to tacos, it has a great atmosphere and is perfect for getting large groups of friends together on a sunny evening. Always disappointed when 11pm arrives too soon.
This pop up by Wandsworth Bridge Road is on a derelict piece of land which used to be a car auction and is now scheduled for high rise flats. In the interim some bright spark (ex-Quintessentially I hear) has turned it into a holiday destination, consisting of a sandy beach, street food stalls and a Mediterranean-inspired eating area. You can either buy booze at the bar, or bring your own – the latter making it a great place to hang out with friends and not break the bank. The street food stalls are eye-wateringly good but painfully slow to cater to demand, so don’t be in a hurry. Enjoy the atmosphere and make new friends. Reserve a spot in advance.