Guest post by Jamila Jamani and Nijhad Jamal
I started my love affair with London at the age of 12. I was lucky to come back annually to visit and then eventually to study, to work and now to live here with my life sidekick. Here are some of our favourite places - some old gems and some new surprises.
Like the HNDSM team, every day begins with coffee and we will travel for a delicious roast and perfect espresso.
Monmouth - Coffee roasters since the late 70's, we love their original location in Covent Garden and also use their beans at home. Don't expect dairy alternatives here, they are loyal to full-fat milk!
Omotesando Koffee - This beautiful spot is the first European location for the Japanese coffee house dedicated to excellence and perfection.
The Grind - Although almost 10 years old, this place is always buzzing and is a great spot for coffee and food. Their recent growth has been supported by multiple crowd-funding campaigns and they even sell compostable pods for Nespresso machines.
We often find ourselves starting the weekend with breakfast or brunches at homey and humble spots that grow or source high quality ingredients. Our favourites are The Fromagerie (gourmet deli and grocer) and Daylesford (everything is grown on their farm 2 hours outside of London). Other places we frequent for their innovative ingredients and creativity such as Honey & Co, Nopi, Modern Pantry, and Abuelo. Even though it's originally from Sydney, when we feel like an American-style brunch (and people-watching), we head to Granger & Co in Notting Hill. Or, for something simple and cozy try EggBreak or 26 Grains.
No-reservation restaurants that are well worth the (sometimes long) wait:
Padella - the most delicious handmade pasta. Sit at the counter and watch the chefs cook classics like caccio e pepe, pici and ricotta ravioli with lemon and sage.
Homeslice - the location in Covent Garden feels like NYC. A 20” pizza can easily be shared between two. You can’t go wrong with 1/2 margherita and 1/2 mushroom.
Barrafina - the best Spanish tapas and seafood. We are told by our Spanish friends that Spanish chefs travel to eat here for inspiration. Enjoy their snacks and cerveza which they offer you while you’re waiting for a place.
The Barbary - A small bar surrounds the chefs who cook small mediterranean dishes. Come with 1 or 2 others and share the entire menu.
For the times when you need a reservation:
Gymkhana - This casual + Michelin star + Indian restaurant holds a special place in our heart. The restaurant group (run by three siblings) seems to get everything right with each of their restaurants. For more casual but equally as delicious try Brigadiers, Hoppers or Berenjak.
Bocca di Lupo – The Italian menu is designed to be shared so expect something a little more interesting than a standard trattoria.
Sushi Tetsu - Their counter seats 7 people and is run by a husband and wife team. It's an effort to get a reservation, but well worth it once you sit down.
Carousel - Communal dining with a different international chef each week.
If you're looking for a traditional English roast (we are still searching for the perfect one), we recommend Thomas Cubitt or their sister gastro-pub, The Orange, OR for something delicious AND English, we like Sunday lunches at Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch.
We can’t resist mentioning that we are currently obsessed with chocolate chip cookies from Creme for dessert (and also for main course)!
When we are bouncing around the city, we love to stop by Borough Market for grilled cheese sandwiches from Kappacasein Dairy, browse through books at Daunt Books in Marylebone or at Maison Assouline, watch a play at The National Theatre, see a ballet or opera at the Royal Opera House or Sadler's Wells, take in some art at Victoria Miro, Frieze sculpture park, the Royal Academy, V&A, Tate Modern or Somerset House, go for a run through Hyde Park or Battersea Park, and shop for special pieces at Dover Street Market, MatchesFashion, The Conran Shop and Connolly.