Cake Hole at the back of Vintage Heaven on London's Columbia Road is only open at weekends. But once you're tired of looking at the brilliant flowers, antiques and bric-a-brac on offer in this part of London, Cake Hole is a brilliant place to rest your feet. It's part of a new trend of shops linked to cafes who use some of what they sell in the shops to display the cafe's wares. Think dainty flowery chintzy cups and saucers and traditional olde Englishe cakes and you'll enjoy a delightful afternoon supping tea at grandma's table.
Local Expert tip: Open on Saturday and Sunday for cake, coffee and vintage treats. See how the Stylists work whilst eating your cake, as you can later pick up some antique china to recreate your own cake hole cafe at home.
In the chilled out vibe of Stoke Newington, this cafe / restaurant fits in perfectly. Two more branches have now opened up in other 'yummy mummy' territory of Islington and Crouch End. You can start your day here with bountiful smoothies, flaky croissants or eggs Benedict. Then go off for a yoga lesson or a browse of the shops, before heading back for lunch of quiche, frittata or stuffed aubergines and peppers and salads. Dinner is also good, they have a huge range of hot food, some of it with that comforting seventies vibe of whole vegetables and pulses, generous portions and bright sunny food. It brings a taste of the Mediterranean and East of that into London and local residents are all the better for it.
Local Expert tip: Best for Brunch and lunch just because of the feel of the cafe, but the food doesn't stint if you want to pop in for an evening meal either. Go early to avoid disappointment as they are often full with a queue.
Bea's of Bloomsbury was established in 2008 and has been going from strength to strength ever since. Their window displays of towering plates of cup cakes, decorated with fresh fruit and whipped sweet icing and cream cheese are a work of art in themselves. They also serve a great lunch, supplemented by seasonal vegetables, herbs grown from their own roof top gardens and food with as few 'food miles' as possible. They compost their own waste, and provide unique, high quality food to their customers. The flavours are exquisite, and the variety knows no bounds. As well as the cupcakes and afternoon tea, you can sink into delicious cheesecakes, rich chocolate truffle cakes, baked donuts, raspberry swirled meringues and much much more. The decor is old English updated with a contemporary twist and that just about matches the place itself.
Recommended for Cafés because: Bea's of Bloomsbury is a brilliant place to take afternoon tea, from crunchy meringues, to cup cakes, to scones, the produce is delicious, fresh and very British.
Local Expert tip: It's no longer just in Bloomsbury, find branches in Chelsea, at major stores, food markets, St Pauls, and of course Bloomsbury. Apart from the delicious cakes, their savoury lunch menus are great too.
Come rain or shine, the Fleet River cafe always has a busy queue of people waiting as it opens up its lunch menu at 12 noon. In summer, the pretty enamled tables with jugs of fresh field flowers glint enticingly. In winter, the benches upstairs and down bustle with hungry office workers, students and tourists, all stopping in for meals of salads, quiches, frittatas, sandwiches, and of course cake. Mugs of steaming coffee and tea are also served up. The coffee sourced from London's Monmouth Coffee house. The menu changes daily and they often have specials of the week. A recent 'American cake week' allowed many in the Holborn area to indulge their love of peanut butter, oreos, marshmallow and many other delights on the west side of the pond.
Local Expert tip: Get their for 12 to get a place high up the queue and that way you have the choice of the best cuts of quiche, salads and cake. Or pop in for coffee and cake later in the day when the lunchtime crowd has moved on.
Fresh seasonal, home made ice cream, daily baked scones, bread and cakes. What more could you ask for from a cafe? The Light Cafe is the sister cafe to the Light House restaurant. It's a tour de force of cool greys, light interiors and delicious food. In the centre of Wimbledon, one of the capital's go to spots, not just for tennis but also for beautiful houses, yummy mummy's and lots of green space. This cafe, sums up cafe culture at its best, London style.
Local Expert tip: Lunch starts at 12 and dinner at 5 here. Coffee and cakes sold all day, it's closed on Sunday nights.
Set in the grounds of Chiswick House. Chiswick house cafe brings you beautifull presented food in relaxing surroundings. There are plenty of other cafes in Chiswick, the garden borough west of London's centre, just along the river Thames, but Chiswick House cafe's company of cooks produced food is a great place to stop and rest those tired legs before some more sightseeing calls.
Local Expert tip: Open from 9-17.00 or dusk in winter, this calming cafe serves up the cream of English food to a discerning public.
Ginger and White does artisan British food at its best. Their website front page reads 'don't do grande' overlaid over the Union Jack, a clear message to those of us used to coffee chains and huge buckets of coffee. This is all about the quality as the owners love food and love coffee. These are three people who have spent time living and working in New Zealand, Australia and Europe, so they know what they're talking about when they mention good food and good coffee. When they set up in 2009, they felt that no one was doing coffee as they wished, especially not in North West London, so they sourced their beans from London's own roastery, 'Square Mile Coffee' which specialises in seasonal coffee from around the world. Having chidlren themselves, this is especially family friendly and soft boiled eggs and marmite soldiers as well as fish fingers are permanently on the menu to delight mouths big and small. They've already opened a second cafe in nearby Belsize park, with another one expected in Soho. In Belsize park, the menu has expanded and they even do a 'builder's breakfast' complete with beans and all the other fried food that one has come to expect from the English cooked breakfast.
Local Expert tip: The kitchen closes at 16.30 so this is strictly lunch or a quick coffee but so worth it. Burn off some of those calories after with a spin around Hamstead Heath.
Sable D'Or patisserie is very clear in its aims. It wants to provide fresh French style food to its customers. But this being London, the place has a very relaxed British feel. You can go here on a Sunday morning with the papers and stay for hours, reading, and eating your way first through the crisp succulent almond croissants, then after a quick coffee, on to the bigger Brunch and lunch menus. Prices are fairly pricey, but no more so than the rest of this affluent part of London. The walls are painted great chalky colours in muted tones, and although a fairly small space, people manage to cram in push chairs and other family paraphenalia in between the comfy wooden chairs, chandeliers and distressed 'french country' meets London cool look of the place.
Local Expert tip: Bring a Sunday or Saturday newspaper, and hunker down for a long morning of indulgence and magazine browsing peppered with flaky croissants and milky frothy coffee.
Broadway market is bursting with cafes, but Climpson & Sons is widely acknowledged as one of the greats. Restaurants around the neighbourhood will boast of stocking Climpson coffee. This is where 'hipster Hackney' come for their coffee, and you'll get the fashion types, tattooed foodies, the fixie-riding laptop wielding cool crowd all queuing for the serious coffee. They also stock flaky pastries, warming porridge and other breakfast and lunch munchies. Sometimes service can be a little slow, some of the baristas adopting a studied nonchalance, but who's in a hurry? Sit at the counter, or get one of the pavement pews and watch the Broadway Market show reel.
Local Expert tip: On Saturdays, Broadway Market is packed with food stalls and kooky products from vintage tea cups to retro baby clothes. You'll be lucky to get a coffee within 20 minutes wait.
This delicious bakery turned lunch cafe has opened up branches across London and in several big arts venues like the South Bank. But it's to the little bakery on Cornwall Road that I always return, for bags of boston brownies, enriched with cranberries and soft moist cakes of all descriptions. At lunchtime and the weekends, they also do great flaky sausage rolls, quiches, salads and other lunchtime fare. Just round the corner from Cornwall road, one of their many new cafes sits with a few tables inside and out, so that you can take your time over your lunch, brunch or breakfast before heading out to enjoy the delights of London's South Bank.
Local Expert tip: Does great cakes all year round, but their Christmas treats for children are brilliant, colourful and eye poppingly good.