Are you looking for an inexpensive activity that does not eat up your entire day? If so, head to West London’s new Design Museum. A visit to the architecturally stunning museum, which relocated this year from the east, is a perfect afternoon stop. While the crowds can be a little more than the building can handle in its first couple weeks, it’s still nice to wander around a space that you can actually cover in one go.
The building’s size is much grander than the content. At first, it seems like you would never be able to visit such a monstrosity in just a couple of hours, but once inside, you see that the building is comprised mainly of open space, and is really an exhibit in itself. The minimalist, raw vaulted ceiling, soft lighting and clean lines makes for one of the most beautiful modern designs in London. You can take it all in from the mezzanine level, then wander through the three or four free exhibits, have lunch in the cafe, or pay to visit one of their two featured attractions.
The content is all design–fashion, architecture, furniture, graphic, and more! It’s fun, loud, and colorful, making it a family-friendly environment, complete with a creative drawing station for people of all ages to channel their inner designer.
At the end of the experience, you can stop in both of the property’s gift shops–just in time for Christmas–to find fun, unusual gifts for all.
I highly recommend a visit to London’s Design Museum to get in from the cold and explore the best of past and modern design.
224-238 Kensington High Street
London W8 6AG
Oh Happy Day!!!!! I am over the moon right now having solved one of the biggest food challenges I have faced in London. I am constantly (and unsuccessfully) scouring West London for the best Thai food I can have delivered to accompany me on my Netflix binges, and up until now, I’ve had to trek over to Edgeware Road myself just to bring back my original favorite Thai from the Heron Pub. Now, I have a VERY close and equally delicious option at Market Thai. No, they don’t deliver, but this right on my husband’s commute home and he is very good to me.
I have been desperate! My guys at my Connecticut Thai place felt like family. They knew my order–Chicken Pad Thai with extra scallions and some of that Satay peanut sauce on the side–and every time it came out to perfection. I have tried so hard to replicate my meals and experiences there. But up until now, most Thai (and Mexican) places have let me down. (Thai and Mexican are tied for my favorite type of cuisine, but a good Pad Thai, that would be my last meal before execution.)
Market Thai inside is MUCH nicer than you would expect from the outside. It’s located on the corner of Lancaster Road and Portobello Road, just above Ukai. It has ratty signs and a dingy entrance that takes you up a dark staircase that faintly smells of cigarette smoke. At the top of the stairs, on the left, a double door leads into a surprisingly clean, pretty, authentic, rustic dining atmosphere. I was seriously blown away. Their sign boasts that it’s newly reopened, so perhaps it’s freshly remodeled? The busser did not speak enough English to make sense of it for me. She said the restaurant has been there thirty years, but then looked at me with a blank stare when I asked about the “Reopened” sign.
That language barrier did not prevent me from getting a bottle of water and perfect Chicken Pad Thai with a side of Satay peanut sauce. It was presented in front of me in a timely fashion and went down just as quick. I had a lovely little lunch experience at Market Thai and cannot wait to go back (maybe for lunch tomorrow and with my husband this Saturday).
I just wish, with my whole little heart, that Market Thai would get on the delivery circuit. Nowadays, with services like Deliveroo, restaurants don’t even need the delivery infrastructure (like a car and a high-schooler), they just need the Internet. Until then, I will take my hungover or too-lazy-to-cook self down to Market Thai those days the craving strikes. I suggest you do too. Enjoy!
BOOM. It’s Carnival year round over at Notting Hill’s Boom Burger. The Jamaican burger joint under the Westway overpass on Portobello Road is a youthful hangout and takeout hotspot. A visit to Boom Burger is recommended if you want a chill and inexpensive experience, unique food, and a brief escape from the English culture.
There are some serious vibes over at Boom Burger. Picnic tables out front are filled with young kids loitering, smoking joints, and digging in to some intense burgers. Reggae music is blasting, entertaining the street. Inside, you will find casual tables and decor proudly sporting the colors of red, green, yellow. The dining is informal. You order at the register and grab a seat while the open kitchen tirelessly flips burger after burger.
It was actually mesmerizing to watch how on point the staff was at quickly preparing and packaging dozens of to-go orders while simultaneously filling the burger baskets for the waiting diners. It was hot, loud, and sweaty, but that didn’t stop the Boom Burger staff. They were chill.
After a short wait, we were handed our signature Boom Burgers–cheeseburgers with their own bacon jam–and baskets of fries and (my favorite) fried plantains. The fried plantains satisfy your savory side dish needs and sweet post-meal dessert cravings all in one bite. They are an absolute must at Boom Burger.
It won’t be the best burger experience you’ll ever have, but it will be something different. Do not bring parents that may be hard of hearing or expect to be able to have an in-depth conversation with dinner mates across the table. But do bring your hungover buddy that needs a greasy fix. A quick and easy guilty pleasure is waiting for you both over at Boom Burger.
Looking for a fun after-dinner drink?! Head to Trailer Happiness, right off of Notting Hill’s Portobello Road. You can’t miss the retro underground cocktail bar. The street level entrance is a glass showcase illuminating funky wallpaper and a life size hula girl. The entrance is enticing, and once head down the staircase, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported onto the set of That 70’s Show.
Wood paneling, geometric prints, and carpeted surfaces definitely give Trailer Happiness a 70’s vibe. But you’re definitely not in Wisconsin, like in the aforementioned show, you’re in Hawaii baby. Trailer Happiness is one big luau with tropical drinks decorated with pretty orchids served by serious bartenders in Hawaiian shirts. The music, however, is not that of a luau, but instead the rap and hip hop dance anthems of my 20s. It was great. We danced like we were in college and sipped the best damn cocktails we have had in some time.
Those bartenders were serious about their drinks. Their determined faces and honed precision resulted in three delicious Polynesian Princesses. These well-crafted drinks alone make Trailer Happiness worth a visit back. The upbeat music and kitschy decor are just bonuses.
If you’re looking for a silly time, feel like dancing, and want some high-quality cocktails, head to Trailer Happiness. Keep in mind that the ventilation is not great down there, so it can get hot and stuffy and make for some pretty frizzy hair. Other that that, enjoy!!
177 Portobello Road
London W11 2DY
Okay, this one is a Do with a disclaimer. Goode & Wright, on Portobello Road, teeters on the edge of not so good, and even poor sometimes, but there’s something about this place that keeps me coming back. I’m not sure what it is, the food, the decor, the location–all of the above?–but one thing I know for sure, it’s not the service.
I love the look of Goode & Wright. It almost reminds me of a restaurant you would find in France or even New York. It has perfect lighting (when they remember to change the light bulbs–an embarrassing total of four were out!), warm colors, and classic vintage decor, with a mid-century modern flair. It’s casual, yet fancy, and perfect for a leisurely brunch, a first date, or even as a place to bring the folks when they’re in town.
It’s one of the nicest restaurants on Portobello Road, since most of the street is filled with commercial shops or tourist traps. During the day and weekends the restaurant serves as a nice escape from the market crowds, while still allowing for some interesting people-watching. At night, though, is when the restaurant shines. The only bright light among all of the dark storefronts, Goode & Wright becomes a scene from a movie, looking in at happy diners, clinking glasses and filling their bellies. When I finish a meal at Goode & Wright, perfectly buzzed for the walk home, I find it amazing how peaceful Portobello Road is late at night. It’s like the streets morph as Eponine describes in Les Miserables during On My Own. It’s something beautiful and poetic. So yes, I’m a huge fan of the location and the magic surrounding me whenever I’m there.
The menu is pretty amazing, too. It’s a creative mix of food classics with unusual ingredients. You’ll find a duck egg omelette, bone marrow spread, buttermilk schnitzel, fried brussel sprouts, grilled octopus and gypsy toast. All of the dishes and sides are perfectly seasoned and really flavorful. I’m really such a fan. The French toast I had for brunch was crisped with a toffee coating as an unusual twist on a basic maple syrup topping. Despite it being very difficult to eat once it hardened, and sticking to my teeth, the breakfast was one of the most decadent and delicious items I’ve ever had in London.
My only annoyance with that meal, and any others I’ve had at Goode & Wright, really, boils down to the service. It is slow and aggravating.
I sat down for my brunch and looked at the menu. After awhile the waitress came over to take my order. Once I ordered, I was then informed that they were out of the dish I was requesting. I then asked if there was anything else they were missing so that I could accurately start over. She mentioned a few more items. This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of my biggest pet peeves. Why would you not give your table any pertinent information at the time they are seated? Why have them peruse an inaccurate menu for twenty minutes and then expect them to have a different decision on the spot when you inform them of your kitchen’s lack of demand planning? I needed more time. I was hungover so this was a big decision.
After asking the waitress for a few more minutes, she came back 15 seconds later, and then again. I swear the only time I get good service here is when I don’t want it. Finally she left me alone to make a new decision, and then, in true Murphy’s Law fashion, she never came back. I eventually flagged her down and I ordered the French toast that was coming with strawberries instead of bacon, due to another kitchen amendment. This change was actually what sold me on the dish since I’m trying to eat less meat.
Without building this up too much, the waitress was wrong. Or the kitchen. Somewhere there was a disconnect and not only did the dish have bacon, but it was caramelized onto the top of the dish. What if I was not just trying to cut back on meat, but an actual vegetarian?! It really aggravated me and made me realize that every aspect of this woman’s service bothered me. Down to her oblivious tone. The end of the meal was no better. And I left puzzled: Would this be a do or a don’t? I had to fall back on the test question of ‘Would I go back?’ And like a battered woman, the answer was yes. There are too many goods in Goode & Wright to just give up. Plus, there’s always hope that they will read this and get their shit together.
So, with all that said. Good luck at Goode & Wright!
My experience at Ripe Tomato reminded me of the childhood lesson that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The little Notting Hill Italian establishment is a definite must-do, and I regret how long it’s taken me to realize that.
My husband lived on All Saints Road during our long distance relationship. Since we only saw each other every few weeks, we made the most of the four days we would have together hopping from the bedroom to a restaurant, on repeat. During those many dates, we always skipped Ripe Tomato. My husband thought it looked like a chain pizza place, and just not very interesting. The typeface for the restaurant’s storefront reminded me of the 90s hit, Comic Sans, which we always used when we typed notes to our friends in computer class. It’s outdated and not very chic, which led us to believe the same thing about Ripe Tomato.
So, fast forward to a few years later when one of my girlfriends suggested it for our monthly catchup dinner. I originally hesitated, but decided it was time to give Ripe Tomato a chance. And I’m glad I finally did.
The inside is actually a lot more interesting than it appears from the outside. It’s older and more eclectic than you could tell from the street, and reminded me of a friendly restaurant you would actually find in Italy. The owner seemed nice and very involved in his restaurant’s ongoings, and the staff was attentive.
So, within the first five minutes, I was already impressed with the restaurant’s staff, look, and location. Then I began looking at the menu and specials board. The prices seemed very reasonable and I became torn between five entrees. I was extremely hungover and dying for food, so that could have been part of it, but it really seemed like I had found the restaurant with the most appealing menu in town. I settled on the the Insalata Tricolore, which was basically a Caprese salad with avocado, and the Gorgonzola Gnocchi as my main. Both were delicious and hangover cures. You can’t really beat multiple types of cheese and cream when you’re suffering from last night’s good time. I also sampled my friends pasta and another’s pizza. The crust was amazing and a perfect vehicle for my gorgonzola cream sauce.
At the end of the night, we all split up our bill, which also included a few glasses of the house white, and the amount was shocking. I owed just £30 for two courses and a buzz. What a steal.
I wouldn’t choose Ripe Tomato for your big Saturday night date and can think of other places to entertain out-of-towners, but for a weeknight or a lazy Sunday meal, it won’t disappoint. I can’t wait to grab a cozy table with my husband, split a bottle of wine, have some comfort food and show him what he’s been missing all these years.
So, don’t be like us and miss out on years of decent food. Head to the local favorite, Ripe Tomato, for nice food at attractive prices.
7 All Saints Road
London W11 1HA
NAMA, the raw food restaurant in Notting Hill, is the premier destination for ladies who lunch and feel guilty about last night’s dinner. I’m sure NAMA has serious juicers and vegans among its many patrons, but the vibe of the eatery is more sceney than holistic. But that’s okay, I’m just happy it has a home in my neighborhood. And, I’m just as guilty, using the health food restaurant as a way to balance out my bad choices or days I skip the gym. If any of this sounds like you, head to NAMA, Notting Hill’s healthy choice.
NAMA is tucked away on the quiet Talbot Road. This location doesn’t keep anyone away, though. The lunch crowd is just as steady as restaurants in the prime spots on Westbourne Grove. There are always women coming in to grab goodies to go, or queue for an indoor or outdoor table. The outdoor tables are cute and sun-facing but there are only two of them, so good luck if your goal for the day is to get some sun. Not to worry, though, the inside tables are a worthy runner up. The back area of the restaurant is light and airy, despite how tiny it is. You feel healthier even before ordering, sitting at a peaceful table decorated with an adorable succulent and drinking a cucumber-infused water.
The food is good. Well, as good as a vegan, gluten-free substitute can be when trying to recreate some of the best dishes of all time. NAMA has their own takes on classic dishes such as pizza, pasta, pad thai, and a burrito. In my everyday gluten-friendly, carnivorous life, I enjoy those said dishes for how they are intended, so when you recreate them with zucchini noodles and turn a burrito into a Mexican wrap that is stuffed with veggies instead of ground beef and cheese, it’s not going to ever be as tasty. But we’re adults, and we know that most of things that taste the best, aren’t good for you. Yes, I prefer whole wheat pasta over white, love asparagus, and would prefer roasted brussel sprouts over a hot dog, but who are we kidding, nothing is better than a McDonald’s double cheeseburger. I haven’t had McDonald’s in probably 3 years, and when I did, it was a weak moment after a concert when I was shit-faced, or something like that, but regardless, I know that I can’t eat what a drunk boy in college would binge on in good conscience and at the mature age of 31. That’s what brings me to NAMA. Not because I am a freak of nature and love all things veggie and gluten-free over the other options out there, but because I want to take care of my body. I want foods that are packed with nutritious ingredients and vitamins and will improve my energy, complexion, and general health. I want to be able to skip the gym one day and still feel like I treated my body like a temple. I want to be able to go out and get wasted and not feel like I’ve gone and undone all this work. NAMA gives me that peace of mind. NAMA is a beautiful, healthy restaurant that serves the best raw meals I have ever had.
The place where NAMA really stands out to me is in their juicing department. They have a grab-and-go fridge stocked full of their fresh juices and milks, which are all delicious. They offer a frequent buyer card to reward you with a freebie after several purchases, which I always like. I’m an extreme couponer at heart. These cards are easy to fill up with some of the best juice and milk combos I have ever had. With ingredients like banana, lúcuma, coconut oil, chia seeds, almond milk, maple, coconut sugar, and vanilla, in their Luscion Lúcuma, their smoothies are a healthy alternative to dessert to end a great meal with something on the sweeter side, or a nice afternoon snack. You won’t be disappointed, but beware, they are a bit pricy. Their steep prices, however, are worth the creativity, art, and wholesome ingredients that go into each bite and sip.
So whether you are embarking on a vegan, gluten-free lifestyle, or someone like me that wants to feel good and do good things with my body, head to the tasty raw food restaurant NAMA. Enjoy!
Lowry & Baker is such a delight. The cutesy cafe on Portobello Road is located in a quieter section of the buzzing market street. This area is a nice break from the crowds, but still makes for great people watching, giving a sense of the Portobello Road culture. Lowry & Baker offers bistro tables and a community bar outside, for a prime spot on the famous London road. On Sundays, their tables spill out, down the road, in front of the closed businesses to accommodate many outside diners. It’s a perfect location on a sunny day, for a hangover brunch with friends, or to go read the newspaper with some nice coffee and delicious food.
Lowry & Baker inside is just adorable. It reminds me of a doll house. You step right into a narrow restaurant and small kitchen filled with an assortment of colorful chairs and tables giving the cafe a look that’s eclectic, but pretty. The front of the restaurant has a nice long, farmhouse table, right in front of their big window. I like to sit there and enjoy my meal with a great view of the outside world. All the details are so lovely and dainty inside. The miniature restaurant is filled with fresh flowers, pretty pastels, and a mix of plates and teacups in a variety of china patterns. It’s a very informal place, ordering and paying at the counter from the two-person team that puts on the whole show. The serious, but kind, staff takes pride in each dish presented to you, making sure it is made to your preference, welcoming questions and requests.
The cafe’s menu is simple. They serve coffees, cakes, and brunch items during the day, and small plates and wine on select nights. Their sweet treats are displayed at the front counter on an assortment of cake stands and mixed serving dishes. Additional breakfast options are listed on chalkboards and cooked right in the middle of the restaurant, behind the counter in the little kitchen. The small prep area and tiny kitchen appliances reminds me of a college dorm, when you had to get creative with nothing but a hot plate and a package of Ramen noodles. Lowry definitely makes the most of their space, serving basic dishes at the highest quality. My favorites include delicious eggs on toast with avocado and harissa and their yogurt with granola, honey, and fresh fruit.
I’ve never had a bad experience at Lowry & Baker. I’m always pleased with the scenery, the service, and the food. It is one of the most consistent cafes in the area. I highly recommend you try it out next time you’re visiting Portobello market or just wandering through beautiful Notting Hill. Follow Portobello Road all the way up and you won’t miss it. Enjoy!
The Hillgate Pub is a fun little place to stumble upon! It amazes me how a short walk behind the always-busy Notting Hill Gate can lead to the most beautiful and peaceful streets in London!
That pretty walk gets you to the adorable rounded-corner Hillgate Pub. It’s beautifully painted, has cute picnic tables, and always a nice, lively surrounding crowd. Inside its equally as adorable. Modern and fresh, the walls are painted a clean cobalt blue. Informative black chalkboards with fresh white scribblings are displayed all over among eclectic graphic wall-hangings. The rustic wood tables keep with the laid-back pub style, but are sweetened with tabletop flowers and candles. We had reserved a table and it was just too cute seeing a little spot for two with a personal chalkboard and my name.
I was completely surprised at how young, well-dressed, and lively the crowd was. The pub seems to hide in such a quiet area that I did not expect to be around so much energy! It was really refreshing compared to a lot of the traditional London pubs that have quieter, older patrons.
I arrived before my husband, straight from Selfridges, and was instantly asked out by actually another American. I obviously did not give the guy my number, but was flattered and at that point decided that I loved the Hillgate Pub.
With my ego-boosted I relaxed, ordered a glass of wine, and waited for my husband. He arrived shortly after and we began a meal that was reasonably priced, extremely tasty, and brought to us by a competent waitstaff.
We started with the meat plate and padron peppers. Very tapas style, so not exactly what you would first expect at a British pub, but they were delicious starters. After that, my husband thoroughly enjoyed the bavette steak and I the salmon special. My only criticism was the portion size. The generous salmon fillet was imbalanced against a dollup of smashed potatoes. You couldn’t even see the potatoes until you moved the fillet, as if they were only there to keep the salmon from sliding. What really irked me about that, though, was the waitress’ response to the potato problem. As she cleared our empty plates, I told her for the sake of the next patron. She just said “you should have let me know.” This brought me to think about another issue I see a lot with the service in London. It’s Serving 101 to know that you need to check back with your table after they’ve begun eating their meals. The rule is to ask how everything is within two minutes or two bites. That is the only way to ensure your customers are happy with the preparation and quality of their dish. This server did not check on us post-delivery at all, so how should I “have let her know”? Should I have gotten up and looked for her? Should I have brought my dish back to the kitchen and re-plated it myself? No. It was just a rookie comment that highlighted holes in the service. A simple sorry about that, can I bring some extra potatoes out now, or any other gesture would have been appreciated.
But, aside from my one little potato problem, the food was outstanding and we enjoyed the experience. By the time we left, the music was turned up and the party was really starting. Everyone was really happy and even starting to dance a little bit. Our night was just starting, too. Our little pub dinner turned into an all night affair, leading is to The Electric, Nam Long, and Raffles. It was a big night and my poor body could have used those extra potatoes!
Still, an absolute must-do at the Hillgate Pub. Tasty food from an interesting menu regardless of the size. Check it out and enjoy!
Okay, now it is time for a Notting Hill favorite, The Cow! It’s really important to me that this blog focuses on all areas of London and many different activities. This is a lifestyle blog and my life includes more than just restaurants. I like to go to museums, shop, exercise, view incredible sites, and try pretty much everything once. With that said, you all seem to really like the restaurant posts, especially those in Notting Hill! So, here goes.
The Cow is one of my favorite pubs in Notting Hill, and not just because David Beckham is known to pop in for a pint. I like it because it has a very traditional and cozy feel to it, almost like a Cheers. In reality, it’s not an old London pub. It’s not even on a corner and it opened in the 1990s. It’s just another brainchild of the successful restauranteur, Tom Conran.
Downstairs at The Cow, is a bustling bar friendly to dogs and all walks of life. There are small and large tables that can be pushed together any which way to squeeze in as many people as can fit. It makes for an informal, neighborhood feel, especially when you’re literally sitting on top of your neighbor.
Upstairs at The Cow is very different. They have a small, more formal dining area, complete with tablecloths and personal space. While this area is great for a special dinner, it really feels like you’re put into quarantine away from civilization in that room. For that reason, I always request a seat downstairs. It’s much more lively and exciting. My first date with my husband in London was actually at one of those little tables downstairs, and we didn’t need tablecloths or proper service to make it one of the most romantic seats in the house. Perhaps that’s why The Cow holds such a dear place in my heart.
It could also be because the food is really good. The British menu has something for everyone. Easy pub eats, like prawn cocktails, sausages and mash, and pot pies, as well as a more sophisticated fare. My last visit, I had the amazing warm goat cheese salad, and the pasta special that had crab and a little kick to it. Before that, our group began with one of the monstrous seafood towers. Everything was fresh and delicious. My family equally enjoyed their meals which is why I chose The Cow as a reliable choice to bring out-of-town guests. It’s also right across from The Westbourne, so I will usually start out the night there with a couple pints before wandering to the other side of the street.
Whether it’s a dinner to show your visitors the neighborhood, a first date, a mid-week catch-up, a Sunday roast, or a crazy St. Patrick’s Day venue, whatever you’re looking for, The Cow fits the bill. I’ve been for all of the above and it lead to happy people, full bellies, a marriage, and some blackouts. After all, isn’t that what life’s all about? I hope your visits to The Cow are as successful. Enjoy!