Timeless ideas for Xmas in London

Walk along South Bank – and stop at the new Tate building for the view

There’s usually an pop-up xmas market up near Royal Festival Hall – and then keep going and explore four distinct fixtures:

  • Borough Market – where the well-to-do middle-class hangs out. That said, Monmouth is hard to beat. And if you have time, the bread baking courses are fun. Also, some of the fishmongers have a fire-sale just before 5pm on a Saturday. 
  • Flat Iron Sq – the newcomer to the area – mix of food etc. Also, Gentlemen Baristas are gentlemen (and a have a secret roof terrace). And sometimes you can hear music students across the street practice. Which is nice.
  • Mercato Metropolitano – slightly older than Flat Iron – and a bit further away – still worth a visit.
  • Maltby St. – only open on the weekends – the original break-out … Rope Walk is a tight but fun alley of interestingness. And you can taste Jensen Gin straight from the still… And on the other side of the railway tracks you have the Beer Mile.

More waterside walking – East London edition

Walk along the River Lee – and stop for pizza (and beer) at The White Building – or keep going and have a riverside coffee at Stour Space … and if you have salmon eaters with you, stop at Forman’s. For it is good.

Or if you ventured down the Hertford Union Canal, then make a side visit to the Pavilion in Victoria Park. Decent coffee.

Secret Sq. and an old mansion house

Have lunch at the co-operatively run vegetarian/vegan Bonnington Cafe – cash only… and then stop at Italo (across the street) before heading down to Brunswick House for a browse from cellar to top floor – (and have a drink in the bar at the end).

Books, nuts and cheese in Piccadilly and a proper martini in St James

Stop by the quirky Maison Assouline, then Hatchards (and the big Waterstones in-between if you must). Gorge on nuts and Greek Coffee at Carpo – and cheese at Paxton & Whitfield – and Nordic baked goods at Ole & Steen. And there’s a little wine-bar in Fortnum’s whilst you wait for others to finish their shopping  – whether upstairs or in one of the nearby historic Arcades.

And then ask lots of questions about wine – and buy a bottle – at BBR. Then repair to the frankly bizarre backstreet Duke’s Bar for a Martini. Remember: Only One.  

Four places in Camberwell

Silk Road – Noodles, dumplings and more from North West China
49 Camberwell Church St, Camberwell, London SE5 8TR|

THEO’S – Wood-fired joy, whether pizza or panuozzo 
2 Grove Ln, Camberwell, London SE5 8SY

Lumberjack Cafe – Quiet friendly corner for an espresso
70 Camberwell Church St, Camberwell, London SE5 8QZ

No67 Cafe & Restaurant – Post-gallery brunch, lunch or dinner
67 Peckham Rd, London SE5 8UH

London: all the caffeine & culinary apps you need

If you’re visiting London for #Eurocomm – or perhaps just visiting London in general, here’s a quick round-up of the top caffeine & culinary apps for downloading to your phone before you depart…

A brief preamble before we get stuck in

Maps, maps, maps
There’s a virtue in being lost from time to time, but if you’re short of time, then you may want to cache a London map onto your phone. You can do this with Google Maps – simply zoom to the area you want to keep and type ‘ok maps’ in the search bar. That should more or less take care of it. See the Google Maps help pages if you run into trouble.

Getting from A to B
Cycling is always fastest and there are Boris bike points throughout the centre of town (and here’s a handy iOS app for that) and lots has been done to make London more legible for walkers. Should you feel compelled to use the underground, be sure to follow @tfltravelalerts – and if you need a cab, book ahead using Kabbee – in fact, here’s £10 off code for your first use: PUEZFDget the app here.

Now onto the actual guide:


The good people a Blue Crow Media have a handy app that covers a lot of the top coffee joints across the city: App Store | Google Play | Website.


That’s a lot of choice though. If you’re a Foursquare / Swarm user then you may want to rely on what your friends have rated – or perhaps a curated list like this: London’s (arguably) Best Coffee.


If you’re attending Eurocomm, then here’s a long list of worthwhile /quirky eateries near London College of Communication.

If you’re looking for more specific suggestions based on cuisine (and less geographically bound), then here are a couple of curated lists ready made for Foursquare users:

App-wise, here are some favourites – that work for London – and well beyond:


A long list of worthwhile /quirky eateries near London College of Communication

Eurocomm is coming to town and this year it is hosted by the London College of Communication. For those attending – and perhaps anybody else visiting this fine school – here’s a brief list of eateries a brief walk away. Or perhaps a pedal or two on a Boris bike, if you’re into that sort of thing.

In the immediate vicinity (and then clockwise below):

Thur-Sat evening street food pop-up and creative space
The Paperworks
48 Newington Causeway
London SE1

Steak for breakfast and a shot of Colombian
La Chatica Café
2 Elephant Road
London SE17 1LB

Lunch or dinner for £6 or so…
Mamuśka! – Polish Kitchen and Bar
Unit 233, Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre (a blast from the past in its own right)
London SE1 6TE

A little piece of daytime South America in Southwark
El Vergel
132 Webber Street
London SE1 0QL

North towards Waterloo / Waterloo East

Best fish and chips south of the river – but *you’ll smell of fry*
Masters Super Fish 
191 Waterloo Road
London SE1 8UX
United Kingdom

Seasonal modern British and a nice atmosphere
The Laughing Gravy
154 Blackfriars Road
London SE1 8EN

South Bank riverside views

Sophisticated low-light, high ceiling setting
Royal Festival Hall
Belvedere Road
London SE1 8XX

A good view of the river and St. Paul’s
OXO Restaurant, Bar and Brasserie
OXO Tower Wharf
Barge House Street
London SE1 9PH

An even better view of St. Paul’s – and the City
Tate Modern Restaurant
Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG

Up near Borough Market:

For oysters and all that
Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House
11 Stoney Street
Greater London SE1 9AD
United Kingdom

Chocolate-based cuisine (yes, really)
Rabot 1745
2 – 4 Bedale Street
Borough Market
London SE1 9AL

+ little bit further East from there:

Cook school, social enterprise – and a decent dinner
Brigade (I was originally introduced to this place by @negriff)
139 The Fire Station
Tooley Street
London SE1 2HZ

Small and intimate
152 Tooley Street
London SE1 2TU
United Kingdom

Bermondsey Street

You may have to stand, but you won’t regret it – views from ‘13 still hold
104 Bermondsey Street
London SE1 3UB

You may also want to try the seated sister-establishment down the road: josepizarro.com/restaurants/pizarro-restaurant

A proper gastro-pub in the original meaning of that term
The Garrison
99 Bermondsey Street
London SE1 3XB

South towards Kennington

Quirky, kitschy small French seafood restaurant 
The Lobster Pot
3 Kennington Lane
London SE11 4RG

A decent curry
347a Kennington Road
London SE11 4QE

For more like this, see the archive / follow @michaelambjorn

Brief review: Jose

The view down Leathermarket St from Jose

Zagat has just released their 2013 list of top-rated London restaurants and I was particularly pleased to see the informal but superb Jose in Bermondsey Street right up there with The Fat Duck and old Soho favourite Gauthier.

So what better way to celebrate than to share my own views after a fair few visits, with more to come: 

// The unusual bit about this place

In addition to a superb selection of delectable tapas dishes of the more traditional variety, they sometimes serve acorn-fed pork that has only just been seared. And it is spectacular.

// The five reasons I’ll (keep) go(ing) back

The raucous atmosphere when it is busy; the speedy and efficient service; the wine selection which reminds you that it worth venturing beyond Rioja now and again; and most importantly – the food – which leads us to the fifth: you don’t mind having to sometimes stand up to fit in, when it is this good.

You can Jose on Foursquare – where it is, as you would expect, on my list of London’s Best Spanish.


Brief review: The Northall @ The Corinthia Hotel – London

// The unusual bit about this place

With a breadth of selection in the bar worthy of a gin palace, do start your evening there if you’ve arrived a bit early for your table – I’m sure you’ll find something that suits your taste to get you going.

// The five reasons I’ll go back

The gin list, the conscientious and seamless service across bar and restaurant; the atmosphere and the interesting wine list (which includes a good selection by the glass) – and fifth, but not least: if they can repeat the way they both cooked and presented their succulent pork chops, then they can look to count me as a regular.

Find it on Foursquare – where I have also added it to my list of London’s Best Hotel Restaurants.

#XX (at Sally White)

New addition to the London’s Best Coffee list on Foursquare. Nice little new café in Kennington. After you’ve caffeined up, I recommend you stop by the small independent Kennington Bookshop (and if you like those types of places, then there’s of course a list for that too).

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑