Brunch at Norbert – London

Last weekend my mother was in town, and as you always do when a relative comes to visit London, you go for brunch. Most 20 or 30 something Londoners’ weekend life revolves around Friday evening drinks at the pub, Saturday morning brunches, Sunday roasts and ‘today I will eat healthy’ Mondays. Basically, brunch is an institution in the Big Smoke and a lot of places do it really well so competition is high.

We decided to go back to Noak in Brockley which we very much enjoyed! Upon arrival, we discovered that 1) the restaurant had been repainted and 2) the name had been changed to Norbert. Wait, what?

Norbert Brockley London

Noak was no more and had been replaced by its British brother Norbert. We headed in anyway as we were hungry and a bit curious. The interior remains very similar to what Noak’s used to look like. The waiters were with us straight away and efficient to take our orders and serve food, which in full honesty is where Noak wasn’t great. The previous team was on the slower and more disorganised side, so there have definitely been improvements there!

The Nordic-inspired breakfast platters seemed to have left with Noak but Norbert brunch menu looked promising, British classics made with local products.

We ordered coffees which were good! (not always the case in London)

Norbert coffee

My mum went for the vegetarian full-English served with halloumi and avocados. It was tasty and filling, just what a full-English breakfast is supposed to do!

Norbert vegetarian full-english

Both Andrew and I went for the poached eggs served on sourdough bread with wild mushrooms and Bayonne ham. It was really good! I was genuinely impressed, the products were flavoursome and fresh.

Norbert wild mushrooms eggs

What struck me too is how good the plates looked. You can tell that the people in the kitchen have some sort of gastro/fine-dining experience. So I googled them and discovered that the head chef has worked at Michelin starred The Galvin Brothers at La Chapelle. Not bad at all!

So for those of you who knew Noak and have yet to try Norbert, I can confirm that it is a bit of an upgrade! Noak had that lovely little local coffee eatery atmosphere, Norbert offers a more elevated restaurant-like experience but still at a decent (London) price.

Norbert restaurant indoor London

My only regret? The cinnamon rolls are gone! People of Norbert, if you read this post, please, please, please consider bringing the cinnamon rolls back!

A great unplanned (re)discovery and a new potential favourite local brunch spot!

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Dinner at Sparrow – London

Following our brunch at Sparrow, today I am finally sharing my dinner experience at Sparrow!

A little background story for this post; Andrew and I have had dinner at Sparrow before, very shortly after they opened. However, we had the ‘excellent’ idea of going the day after we came back from Japan, thinking it would be a great way to fight the jet-lag. We did stay awake the entire time, but it felt like a very vague dream the morning after, so our first impression was a little too blurry for me to share it on the blog. I knew I had eaten well but that was pretty much it.

So using the excuse of Mummy Imaginarium’s visit to town, we booked a table at Sparrow for an overdue evening visit.

The day was grim, rainy and cold, and we were very tempted to skip the reservation for a soup and movie night in. Thank god we didn’t!

Sparrow Lewisham London

We were greeted on arrival by the most lovely manager! I wish I would have asked for his name (as well as our waiters’) because they were all just so nice! The walk in the rain was worth it just for the warm welcome alone.

Sparrow Lewisham kitchen

We opted out of the aperitifs and went straight for a ‘warming’ bottle of Portuguese red wine (which was excellent). All their drinks sounded great and I would have definitely tried one of their homemade bellinis on a warmer day!

Douro Portuguese wine in Sparrow

Following the waitress’s recommendation, we ordered two dishes per person and shared everything.

Sparrow Spring 2018 menu

Spoiler alert – because I just cannot wait to tell you anymore – it was DE-LI-CIOUS! Seriously one of the best meals we had in a while! Sorry, I just couldn’t contain myself until the end of the post to share it with you! Now that have that out of my system let’s review all the details so you can order the same when you are going (because you absolutely have to, and will go to Sparrow). Just note that the menu may change with the seasons.

We started with the focaccia which was light, yet filling, with strong flavours of olive oil, yet not too oily. Delightful!

Focaccia in Sparrow

We ordered one of the specials of the day, a fried chicken tight with peanut satay sauce. Again, really good and not too greasy for a fried dish, and the sauce was delicious.

Fried chicken in Sparrow

Bear with me for the next dish, I just need a minute of contemplation… These roasted Jerusalem artichokes with hazelnut pesto and bitter leaves were by far my favourite dish of the evening. They were so good that looking at the picture makes me emotional. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life!

Jerusalem artichoke in Sparrow

We followed the most epic plate of vegetables I ever had with the scallops and crab tortelli with mussels. They were good but it was hard for them to follow after the artichokes.

Crab and scallops tortelli in Sparrow

For some reason we mainly ordered vegetarian dishes that night, it wasn’t done on purpose but we were very happy we did as the meatless plates are clearly Sparrow’s forte. The grilled asparagus with lemon and parmesan are a perfect example of it, crunchy and full of Spring flavours!

Grilled asparagus in Sparrow

We ended the savoury courses with the most beautiful Puy lentils I had served with carrots and beetroots.

Puy lentils in Sparrow

We had no appetite anymore but if the desserts were as good as the mains we had to have some! So both my mum and I went for the rhubarb trifle which was rich and delicious and Andrew chose the strawberry pannacotta.

Sparrow rhubarb trifleSparrow strawberry pannacotta

We left Sparrow with the most gratifying feeling, one of having had one of the best meals of the year (so far!).

So make a booking, show up (even if it’s – 20 and snowing) and let the lovely staff take care of you! Wait, did I mention it was one of my favourite meals in a while?

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Model Market – London

Guess who’s back, back again
Guess who’s back, guess who’s back?
Guess who’s back, guess who’s back?

I am telling what is back: Model Market! One of the best places in Lewisham!

Model Market Lewisham-

Model Market is one of the few Street Feast food markets in London. Open every Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 1am this is the ultimate south east London destination for a tasty rum punch and some delicious food.

Model Market Lewisham

Once an indoor and outdoor market, the venue had become an abandoned dilapidated space before it was taken over by Street Feast which created a fun venue answering the increasing demand for good food venues in the south-east borough.

Model Market Lewisham

Model Market is like a small version of Mercato Metropolitano with food stalls and sheltered sitting areas so you can enjoy a night out in Lewisham even on a rainy day.

Model Market Lewisham

Once in, head to the main bar to grab a refreshing beer or one of their many cocktails. If you are more of a gin and tonic or rum person there are two other bars purely dedicated to the clear and amber alcohols.

Model Market Lewisham

Since our trip to Barbados, Andrew and I cannot resist a good rum punch which is of course what we opted for last time we went (dragging with us my sister and her fiance who both were seduced after just one sip).

Model Market rum punch

I have also done a little selection of food stalls I highly recommend!

Start the feast by sharing some steamed bao buns from Yum Bun. We had the fried chicken ones which were very tasty and I am planning to try the tofu ones next time (I will update this post to share my thoughts).

Model Market chicken Yum Bun

We then shared the most delicious fried chicken strips from Mother Clucker. So delicious that we finished them before I took a picture so you will have to take my word for it.

Still feeling a bit peckish both Andrew and I opted for burgers from Pocho. They were tasty and satisfying, and the best part is that they are all the same price no matter which feelings you picked!

Model Market Pocho burger

My sister and her fiance were craving some Indian flavours (when in London…) and opted for naan wraps from Frankie Goes to Bollywood. They both reported that it was delicious and they are both French so I trust their opinion!

Model-Market-Lewisham-Yum-Bun

We grabbed some more G&Ts and rum punches and chatted a bit longer, ending a very happy day in London town!

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The best places to see the Cherry blossoms in London

Seeing all the beautiful pictures of the sakura season in Tokyo and Kyoto, one could forget that London is another fantastic city to enjoy the Cherry blossom season.

Cherry blossoms in Notting Hill

I have been a Londoner for more than seven years now and I can honestly say that the city is the prettiest in the Spring and the Autumn. London may be nicknamed The Big Smoke but is a surprisingly green city with countless tree-lined streets and many big parks. I have never lived more than a 5-minute walk away from a green space here and with so many trees the change of season is spectacular!

Cherry blossom in the UK is a little later than in Japan. Peak cherry blossoms hit us between the middle of April and the middle of May. I am writing this post in the middle of April and at the moment most trees have not blossomed yet. So this article is perfectly timed so you can plan your Spring London adventures for the next few weeks!

Notting Hill

This is an obvious one but it is worthed mentioning because Notting Hill is truly spectacular in the Spring. I used to live very close by, and even then I would only hang out in Notting Hill in Spring. The rest of the time it feels a bit too crowded with tourists for my liking, but in the Spring the cherry trees thrive and create the most beautiful scenery against the white and coloured houses of West London.

Casual tube ride 🌸👀🌸 #flowers #tube #tfl #flowermarket

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Holland Park

Just south of Notting Hill you will find Holland Park. Less famous than Hyde Park or Regent’s Park, Holland Park is a great place to enjoy Spring. It has a magical Japanese garden which makes it an even more special place to appreciate the Cherry blossom season.

🌸🌸🌸 #spring #london #wanderlust

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Little Venice and Regent’s Canal

This is one of my best-kept secrets which I only share with our visitors on their 4th or 5th time in London, so consider yourself very special! I absolutely love walking along Regent’s Canal – starting in Paddington, heading north through Little Venice, Regent’s Park and Camden and ending in King’s Cross. It will help you reach you 10,000 steps a day easily and you will see the loveliest corners of London in the process!

British Sakura 🌸🇬🇧🌸 #london #sakura #wanderlust

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Regent’s Park

Similar to Notting Hill, this is a bit of an obvious one, but nothing beats a walk in Regent’s Park. Feed the ducks, smell the roses, grab a 99 flake and enjoy the sunny day!

🍦🌺👍 #99 #spring #bankholiday #icecream #instagood

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Greenwich Park

Most of the places I mentioned above are in West London, but if like me and many other Londoners you are based either East or South of the river, Greenwich Park is a great place to enjoy Spring. Not only does it have one of the best views of the city, it also is home to the fantastic National Maritime Museum AND if you explore the area behind the Observatory, you will find the most beautiful alleyway of cherry trees!

Greenwich Sunday walk #greenwichpark #sundays #wanderlust

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Go explore those places and for a split second you may even forget that you are in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world!

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El Pastor – London

Another day and another London eatery to share with you!

Now, who doesn’t like tacos? Pretty much no one! And if you are not a Mexican food fan but are still looking for a nice place to eat in London I recommend you check out this link where hopefully you will find something you like better! For the others, today I am taking to El Pastor a little taqueria lost in the back streets of Borough Market.

El Pastor London

It had made some noise the past few months with a fair amount of decent reviews so I thought I would check it out! I headed there on Tuesday using the excuse of a girlfriend catch-up and Tacos-Tuesday (I lived in the US for a while, can you tell?) to try El Pastor.

El Pastor London

Similar to Padella, the queue can be the killer here. Do not expect to get a table straight away. Add your name to the list, go grab a drink at Flat Iron Square and wait for the text announcing that you are finally allowed to eat.

Once sat, we both ordered a Pacifico beer, which for two people who never drink beer, tasted appropriately beery and fresh.

El Pastor London

We decided to give the mains the lead role and skipped both starters and desserts. It is also good to note that the staff was great at managing my food allergy to avocado (one terrible human tragedy I know) with all the guacamole flying around.

Kitchen at El Pastor London

There are 2 tacos per portion which is perfect for sharing. We order a good variety of mains and there were some disappointments but also some great surprises!

***Warning the pictures that follow are a bit graining but the place is fairly dark and my camera on its last stretch! ***

We ordered the Al Pastor, the signature tacos with marinated pork, caramelised pineapple and guacamole. I had to have it without the guacamole which made it a little dry. The meat serving was generous and tasty but the pineapple piece was too much on the small side. Good but not mind-blowing.

Al pastor pork tacos El Pastor London

We then had the mushroom tacos, which were… DE-LI-CIOUS! I am making the effort of trying more of the vegetarian options at restaurants and this one did not disappoint. The mushrooms were juicy but not watery, the cheese was tasty but not overpowering. A real and very pleasant surprise!

Mushroom tacos El Pastor London

We liked it so much that we ordered another portion of these!

We tried the Choripapa tacos, a mix of chorizo and potato served with salsa verde. It was tasty and the potato felt surprisingly present to the palate against the spiciness of the chorizo.

Choripapa tacos with chorizo and potatoes El Pastor London

Finally, we shared the Gringa quesadilla. The pork quantity was very generous but it could have done with more cheese and been a bit bigger. One quesadilla is just enough for 2 people to share.

Gringa pork quesadilla El Pastor London

All mains are between £6 and £8 so you can eat for around £30 with a drink which is not too excessive in London.

So if you are looking for gastro-gourmet tacos on a Tuesday evening, head to London Bridge and add your name to the list. ¡Buen provecho

El Pastor London

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Mercato Metropolitano – London

One of my favourite food markets in London is Mercato Metropolitano, and this is a big statement knowing how many street food places there are in London!

Mercato Metropolitano entrance London

Mercato Metropolitano is hidden in an old warehouse of Elephant & Castle and just a stone’s throw away from the famous Ministry of Sound. From the outside, it may look deceivingly small, but don’t get fooled by the narrow entrance. Once inside you will be surprised by the scale of this place!

Mercato Metropolitano entrance London

There are three main areas in Mercato Metropolitano, the warehouse where most of the food stalls are. Prezzemolo & Vitale, the Italian deli, a big store full of delicious fresh products which you can either take home or consume on site (including the wine!). And there is the outdoor garden area, a great place to hang out in the summer evenings with a glass (or jug!) of Pimms.

Mercato Metropolitano LondonMercato Metropolitano Italian deliMercato Metropolitano London outdoor area

My routine is as follow when I go there. And yes, I do have a routine because I am massively a regular- I just love this place so much!

Mercato Metropolitano London

First stop is the Italian Deli where we will buy a bottle of wine to enjoy in the market. The staff is amazing and will happily make you taste different options before you buy a bottle. I even converted one of my friends to red wine in this shop!

Mercato Metropolitano Italian deli

The second step is to browse all the different food options before selecting your lunch or dinner. I highly recommend the meat platter from the Argentine Grill, the pulled pork burger at Prairie Fire BBQ, the charcuterie and cheese plate from Champagne & Fromage and the gelatos at Gelateria Badiani.

Mercato Metropolitano gelatoMercato Metropolitano London BBQMercato Metropolitano pulled pork burger

Finally, grab a table inside during the winter or on a rainy day (Mercato Metropolitano is opened all year round!) or outside on warmer and sunnier days.

Mercato Metropolitano foodMercato Metropolitano London outdoor area

End your visit by checking out all the cool street art going on in the venue and grabbing some Italian treats at the deli to take home. Get some houseplants at RootLabs or go watch a movie at the Backyard Cinema.

Mercato Metropolitano London street artMercato Metropolitano RootLabs bus

So make sure to pay a visit to Mercato Metropolitano, and if you have visitors in town bring them with you! They will be blown away by the place and they will find something they like no matter what!

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The Brockley Deli – London

I have recently taken the leap to leave my job and to give the freelancer life a go. That means that every day I am at home. I am quite a homebody anyway and like my own company, so most days I am happy! Sometimes though, I need to get outside and change the scenery to stimulate my creativity. I have therefore made it my mission to try all my local coffee shops while working – you can call it multitasking!

I mentioned the Good Hope Cafes before, and this week we are heading to the west part of Lewisham in Brockley where you will find the eponymous Brockley Deli.

The Brockley Deli

Part delicatessen, part coffee shop, Brockley Deli is a bright spacious place where your creative juices will be flowing while your stomach enjoys a nice pastry and a coffee.

The Brockley Deli toasted croissant

It is also good to note that the WiFi is very reliable, which, if you are in the same situation than me, is a detail but an important one!

The shop section offers fine foods and wines, and you can order tasty freshly-made sandwiches and nibbles at the counter. The Brockley Deli also works with local suppliers as much as possible and all their beers are from local breweries.

The Brockley Deli counter

My order of choice there is an almond milk latte with a delicious blueberry muffin.

The Brockley Deli coffee and blueberry muffin

With a novel author on the left and two digital nomads on the right, you won’t feel lonely! The Brockley Deli is a great place to settle for half a day as a freelancer. They are open from 8am to 7pm most days, so you can even make it a full working day if you fancy! You can even reward hours of hard work with one of their cocktails, because why not?

The Brockley Deli

They say you should work hard and play hard, well I do it the foodie way!

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Antonio Delicatessen – London

You have been to Italy before and love getting lost in the lively food shops and farmer markets there? You love Italian food but you find the supermarkets’ mozzarella disappointing? Me too! Unfortunately, we cannot just jump on a plane to Rome when we are craving the flavours of Italy. Not very budget-friendly neither environment-friendly.
The great news is that if you are in London I know a place where, for a short period of time, you will feel like in a shop in Florence. Lewisham city centre is definitely not the most pleasant place in London. It can be grim and a little rough around the edges so you would not think that a little piece of Italy is hiding there. Yet it is home to one of the best Italian delis!
Antonio Delicatessen Lewisham London
Antonio Delicatessen is in a street just off Lewisham shopping-centre and a short walk away from the station. A real hidden gem where you will be greeted by ‘Buongiorno!‘. There all the staff is Italian!
The shop is small but packed to the ceiling with Italian products. You will find all the types of pasta, sauces, biscuits and even drinks commonly found in Italian supermarkets!
Antonio Delicatessen shop
Head to the counter and order some delicious Italian pecorino and charcuterie.
Antonio Delicatessen charcuterie
It is good to note that by default the staff will talk to you in Italian, and when visiting you will quickly understand why. Most of the customers in the shop are Italian too! Now if this is not a sign of quality and authenticity I don’t know what is!
Antonio Delicatessen cheese and deli
Antonio Delicatessen products are very reasonably priced. This shop is not trying to be a fancy European deli. Its objective is to cater for London’s Italian community and make sure that their weekly shop is as good as it is at home.
Antonio Delicatessen shop
Luckily for me, I live a short walk away from Antonio Delicatessen. And if you don’t, yet still want to treat yourself to a tasty homemade Italian dinner, consider hopping on the train there. It will be a mini weekend adventure into the depth of South-East London and you will head back home with excellent burrata!
Ci vediamo lì, arrivederci !
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Flat Iron Square – London

It doesn’t happen often but sometimes looking for free wifi and clean toilets can lead to great things. It was the case for me recently while looking for a decent spot to work from, around London Bridge, before a dinner with my friends at Padella.

The Shard London

I was walking down the streets hoping to find a warm place with good coffee which was not a chain. I eventually saw a warehouse-like door opened with people coming and going and some music playing. I had time to lose so I thought I would check it out. One of the best decision I have made within the past 10 days (my life is not that exciting). This is how I discovered Flat Iron Square.

Flat Iron Square

Nested under some of the London Bridge train tracks, Flat Iron Square is an indoor/outdoor food market. It opened in 2016 so it is still fairly new and not too crowded. Part of me considered not sharing this address with you so it would remain fairly low key, but sharing is caring and I couldn’t let you miss out on this place!

Flat Iron Square

Flat Iron Square is part of London’s Low Line project aiming to open South London railway arches to local businesses.

Flat Iron Square

The first time I visited I took a sit indoor and grabbed a coffee and one delicious cinnamon roll at Burnt Lemon Bakery. Their sandwiches also looked amazing and I would definitely go back there for some flavoursome bread and tasty pastries!

Flat Iron Square

I actually liked Flat Iron Square so much that I went back with my friends Hemma and Camille for a drink (alcohol is on the pricey side there) and Andrew for a Sunday lunch.

Lupins in Flat Iron Square

The day we went with Andrew was absolutely freezing so we both opted for a warming ramen from Tatami Ramen. The ramen was decent, not as good as the ones served in Japan, but it did the job of keeping us warm and full.

Ramen in Flat Iron SquareEating ramen at Flat Iron Square

Be warned Flat Iron Square, I will be back! My plan is to try all the eateries under the arches, and by the time I am done maybe London will be warmer and maybe we will be able to sit outside.

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Padella – London

Just a stone’s throw away from London Bridge you will find Padella. Weirdly, I had never heard of this place before. I say weirdly because when we got there the queue was wrapped all around the building and the next table for 3 was available an hour and forty-five minutes later. So clearly Padella is a popular place!

After a nice girly catch-up and a few drinks at a close by venue, we finally took a seat around the bar with a prime view into the kitchen, where all the magic happens.

Padella kitchen London

And it is not any magic happening at Padella – it is delicious Italian-pasta-magic!

Being a girly catch-up dinner, we all ordered wine of course and we decided to share two starters – the burrata and the salame. Both were delicious and between three people the perfect amount of food to save our appetite for the pasta!

Burrata and salame Padella London

The burrata was creamy and filling and the salame had the flavour of real well-made charcuterie (for a few bites I felt like I was back in France).

A special mention to the staff, one of my friends doesn’t like parmesan ( I know, weird, but we are still friends). The staff went above and beyond to make sure she enjoyed her main and that there would be minimal traces of parmesan on her plate (rather challenging in an Italian restaurant).

We all went for a different dish but all tried each others’ so I can comment on all! It is also good to note that Padella is very affordable. A meal without drinks will only set you back a tenner!

Padella London menu

Hemma went for the spinach and ricotta ravioli. These were excellent and so creamy!

Spinach and ricotta ravioliPadella London

Camille went for Padella signature dish Pici cacio & pepe, a very satisfying and simple cheesy plate of pasta! Comfort food at its best!

Pici cacio & pepe Padella London

I went for something a little different, the tagliarini with chilli, anchovies and capers. I felt adventurous and wanted to try something new. It was really good, neither too fishy nor too sour. All the flavours were subtle yet noticeable and it wasn’t too spicy either!

Tagliarini with chilli, anchovies and capers Padella London

So is Padella worth staying in the queue for? Absolutely! And while you are waiting, make sure to go explore and have a drink at Flat Iron Square, another nice discovery I made that same day (I can smell another blog post)!

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