As London enters summer 2022, thoughts turn to those beautiful balmy evenings and scorching weekend days of summer more readily than ever. But what to eat, beyond a DIY barbecue? Well, as it happens, London’s parks — from Clapham Common to London Fields — are flanked by great restaurants, cafes and bars. Here’s where to find the best refreshments.Read More
The Best Places to Eat in and Around London’s Parks
More than DIY BBQ: Sri Lankan in Hackney, a French bistro in Bermondsey, and old-school ice lollies in Walthamstow
Le Délice in the Park
This is a cafe that serves standard lunch time items, such as baked potatoes, salads, chips, and sandwiches. But it’s the ice cream (by Movenpick) and ice lolly selection that makes it such a find. And while, for the bo-bo Walthamstow park crowd, there are “natural”, “organic”, “fruit-juice-only” pops available, it’s the retro Franco’s brand Cherry Brandy and Banana Lolly which are thrillingly novel. In those there is no nature, nothing organic, and certainly no trace of actual fruit juice. So take your pick.
One of the most desirable green space tables in the city is an elegant pavilion (no groans, please) overlooking the lake in Victoria Park. Baked goods is the strong suit here, with turmeric, cardamom and cinnamon buns, but the most interesting element is the focus on food. Excellent Sri Lankan dosas, queue-worthy hoppers and ferocious chutneys and sambals are ideal for both leisurely grazing and a post-run feast, while recent specials include Cornish chowders and fish stews; scallop baps; and Tunworth pastries. It’s been meat-free a fair while, so those in search of bacon can make like the park’s sweat of runners and jog on.
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The sister site to Casse-Croute, on the other side of Tanner Street Park, Pique-Nique is devoted to eloquent, elegant French cookery. The menu leans into regions according to seasons, summer bringing a provençal breeze in the shape of grilled beef tomato with little gem and salsa verde or a revelatory cuttlefish carbonara. In times of lore — that is, mid-late 2017 — the menu “autour du poulet de Bresse” was the talk of the town for its dedication to each and every part of the esteemed French bird.
London’s finest Trinidadian purveyor is but five minutes walk north of Clapham Common: This legend succours the homesick or hungry with curry goat, doubles (small roti filled with chickpea curry), buss-up shot (broken roti bread, a popular side order, pholourie (like dough balls with rich tamarind sauce). Get a cold beer, or a Mauby Fizzz, sorrel or Supermalt to drink. Perfect summer food (for the park.)
Camden stalwart Seto specialises in shoyu and miso ramen, with twinkling, delicate, eminently slurpable broths a winning counterpoint to London’s widespread horn for vast quantities of pork fat. It’s family run, one of London’s best-value restaurants, and so singular as to require no other ordering — except some gyoza liberally coated in chilli oil. With Shimogamo sadly closed, it’s assumed the spot of Regent’s Park’s top adjacent pick — Survivor Caribbean on Arlington Road would also be a fine shout.
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This peerless Japanese bakery is the place to go in the vicinity of Ealing’s Lammas and Walpole Parks, either for custard buns that pop in the mouth like bubbles or matchless baguettes. Pre-ordering for a walk is best, but the counter will sometimes have some bakes left over. If too late, Pulp, the Ealing Grocer, and Santa Maria, all on St. Mary’s Road, make fine substitutions.
Lacquered, melting Cantonese roast duck just minutes from Hyde Park. With careful assembly and a willingness to get messy, perhaps a picnic of champions.
Beirut Street Kitchen
In truth, the restaurant options closest to Richmond Park leave a bit to be desired. If in need of coffee before or after, Kiss the Hippo in Richmond or Artisan, on the East Sheen side of the park, are the places to go; for a portable snack, Beirut Street Kitchen’s pillowy man’oushe are an excellent decision.
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Quickly established as a hit, this north Mexican taqueria is the main draw at Netil Market come the weekend, alongside superb coffee from Paradox and pita from Pockets. There are of course plenty of other local options, including Bright’s takeaway squid sandwich; pastries from E5 Bakehouse or Yeast; and much more.
Algerian pastry from El Marsem or explosive salteñas from Bolivian near neighbour Jenechuru are two of the best things to take into Burgess Park apart from oneself. And there’s plenty more to eat along the Old Kent Road. At the opposite of the park, find Ethiopian excellence to take away from Zeret Kitchen.
Open Thursday — Sunday, the return of Slow Richie’s has been a boon to Peckham Rye burger fans, and its click-and-collect / take away service makes for an excellent interlude before or after a visit to the park. If willing to walk a little further, or arriving from the station, there’s a whole clutch of excellent restaurants on the way down, including jerk from JB’s Soul Food or Smokey Jerkey if coming from Queen’s Road and New Cross respectively.
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