Foodie Portobello Road Uncovered
What was I going to expect? After my chat with a local shop owner 2 weeks ago I was slightly apprehensive. She was packing up her shop as the area and visitors had changed. ‘It’s the fault of the Olympic Games and the internet. We get the wrong type of tourists here now. Souvenir tourists. My clients used to be famous people and Royals. All gone! Not worth me running a shop anymore so I’m going’.
That day I decided because of a lack of time not to explore Portobello Road, but have a quick lunch at Ottlenghi’s den in Coventry garden, Nopi. A wise decision. The plan was to uncover the secrets of Portobello Road next time. Two weeks passed by and my schedule was pretty packed. So the initial plan to arrive at Portobello road went completely down the drain. I finally got there at 1.30pm. Took the wrong turning and ended up moving away from Portobello Road with lots of great foodie places though!
The reason for going to Portobello road wasn’t food related, but dress fitting for my wedding. I was pretty peckish when I made my way along Portobello road at 2.30pm. I had spotted a Sicilian cafe the other day and thought this would be perfect for a small snack. I was quite disappointed with their offering. Mainly mains and big pieces. Not as refined as Aromi in Cambridge.
My stomach was rumbling. I spotted ‘the Artisan Baker’ and another cafe selling chocolate, wine and coffee. Although the looks we’re tempting, the food wasn’t. There must have been a reason for all of this. I stumbled across my favourite type of food; grazing food. My eye caught an amazing line up of Tapas in a small bar on Portobello Road! Pix was definitely the place to still my hunger.
This fine display of Tapas or as they call it Pinxtos was ‘smiling’ at me. The biggest problem was; what to choose! Pix serves definitely my type of food. It’s a funky bar with the understated design and the fantastic Tapas. It’s a new chain of restaurants started by a Brit, who lived for many years in Spain and until recently lived in Cambridgeshire. They are looking to expand their popular concept and I’m secretly hoping they’re spreading their wings to Cambridge too. They have 35 different Tapas and every day there is a selection of 15 out on the bar. My favourite ones were Foie gras and Brie, spicy Manchego and the broad bean and mozarella.
I almost forgot to mention, that they have ‘speak easy’ rooms downstairs too. It’s a new trend in London. Their private rooms are inspired by the church next door. You can lock yourself away and nobody will disturb you. The drinks are served through a small door just like in the church when you do confession.
It was difficult to break away from the Tapas and the lively conversation with Tom the manager, but foodie Portobello Road was waiting. Meandering my way through Portobello Road I soon came across some of the foodie shops I wanted to visit. It wasn’t difficult to miss the Spice Shop as the strong smell of spices drew me in. It’s a tiny shop, which is jam packed with small bags of spices from all over the globe. My eye caught the mix of chakalaka. It’s one of my favourite South African ways of preparing carrots. I wondered why it was there. The owners, who started with a small stall on Portobello Market are German. If wouldn’t surprise me, that they have strong ties with South Africa. When you visit, don’t forget to check out the interesting selection of salt!
Just around the corner I spotted the Biscuiteers. It’s a lovely brightly coloured shop with pretty biscuits and lovely decorated cakes. They started this venture about a year ago and they are expanding already!
Books for Cooks was my next stop. I was intrigued by this foodie emporium. I was wondering if it was profitable dedicating a shop solely to cookery books? The answer is yes according to the shop owner. People love to browse cookery books. Their book selection isn’t just the talk of the town, but their cafe and food demo’s too. ‘The cheapest lunch in the area’ according to the friendly lady, who spoke to me. No demo’s on the day of my visit unfortunately. Only on Thursday’s so this will be on my bucket list when I visit Portobello Road on a Thursday.
On my way to the Ginstitute I noticed an interesting place. I couldn’t work out if it was a shop or a restaurant. It had clearly something to do with fish looking at the name and the blue plastic bins, which I remembered from my days as a fish buyer. It was a restaurant, but not open yet for service. Unfurtonately I didn’t write down the name. On my list for next time as it certainly looked very interesting!
I always was a big G&T fan, but the warm South African climate put me off it. Only recently since the opening of the Pint Shop in Cambridge, I’m back liking this tipple. So when I spotted the sign of Gin tastings in a Portobello Road, I had to check it out. No messing about here. It’s the full Monty. They make their own Gin, the Portobello Road Gin Company. On a Gin experience you will get the full low down about the history of Gin, learn how to mix Gin, mix your own whilst sipping 3 different kinds of Gin. If this isn’t enough, you will go back home with not only your own Gin, but a bottle of their famous Portobello road Gin too. It’s a very nice soft Gin. One you easily could drink straight too.
Time to find my dinner spot. Ottlenghi it would be. Last time I ate at the very sophisticated Nopi, tonight it was the Ottolenghi ‘s shop turned into a restaurant in Notting Hill. This lovely place was never meant to be a restaurant, but it became so popular that they put a table in the back of the restaurant. There is a great vibe and perfect if you’re dining by yourself as it’s very likely, that you will be drawn into a conversation. The food was excellent again, especially the mascarpone lemon tart. Just a small note; they don’t serve wine and they don’t have a toilet.
My day was drawing to an end. However there was a small restaurant, which had caught my eye on the corner of one of the streets. Perfect for a drink to round off the day. And it was. An amazing small Italian restaurant where the back wall was stacked with a fine collection if wines. I perked myself at the corner of the bar with a nice glass of white wine. Saparitalia was the perfect end to a great foodie day. Another place for lunch or dinner to try as the food looked really good. Not cheap, but worth the expense.
I’ll soon be back here. Watch this space…..