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By Hanna Woodside
Kharmel Cochrane, Casting Director
“Dinings SW3, in Knightsbridge, for sushi and sake with my best friends – I miss getting cross at their indecisiveness and the time it takes them to order from the menu. I have my tried-and-tested favourites: Toro Tar Tar Chips, Wagyu roll, Chili Edamame – with multiple glasses of Champagne.
“Sarah Chapman Skinesis Clinic, near Sloane Square, for a facial with Fran, which is part beauty treatment, part therapy. I don't care that much about my skin, but I do enjoy making time for myself to be still and gossip for an hour. I can't wait to see her again after almost a year.
“Daunt Books, on Marylebone High Street, has been my sanctuary for years. I can spend ages pouring over books on interiors and Cookbooks. I often go with my daughters on Saturday mornings and walk out with a haul.”
Emma Davies, Composer and Founder of Pastel Prism Records
“I always feel very relaxed at Dem, which does Turkish mezze in Crystal Palace. It’s a great place to end the working week when you’re too tired to cook. My uncle was Turkish, so I order dishes that he used to make – my fave is sigara borek.
“I’ve had many delicious Pho in Urban Orient, which is also in Crystal Palace. It was refurbished just before the pandemic, so it's crushing to think that people haven't been in there for all this time.
“Rock Steady Rum Lounge is a cosy Caribbean restaurant in Gipsy HIll. My sister and I order takeaways from here, but I will definitely be heading in for cocktails as soon as we're able to.”
Rae Chen Elliman, Writer and Casting Director
“Locally, I’ll be heading to Queen's Peckham, a collective beauty space founded by my friend Beth Kucic. It had just moved into an amazing new premises when lockdown started. Beth is pretty hard to get an appointment with because she’s an amazing hairdresser, so I’ll be after one ASAP.
“I'll venture to Bethnal Green to go to Pellicci's, a cafe that's been feeding East London since the 1900s, for a long overdue fry-up (and catch-up). They are like family; the cafe was the first place my parents took me when I was born.
“I hit my limit for online HIIT workouts about a year ago, and I don't think I can bring myself to go for another reluctant run. My favourite workout is hot yoga (a COVID nightmare), so as soon as it's safe, I'll be back at Fierce Grace for their Deep Core 75.
“My favourite indulgence is massage, which helps with my anxiety and insomnia, both of which have been rife during lockdown. MASAJ is a few minutes from my family home in East London, so I'm dreaming of treating myself to 90 minutes of essential oil scented bliss and then strolling down to the flower market with my mum.”
Missy Flynn, Food and Drink Entrepreneur
“I recently moved to central London, having lived East for 15 years. It’s a BIG change but we are opening Rita's restaurant in Lexington Street, Soho, so want to be close by and get to know post-COVID central London from an intimate point of view. It’s been super-strange to see it go from empty in December to slowly getting busier, weekend on weekend, as people venture into town.
“Get a coffee and pastry at Arôme Bakery on Mercer Street, one of the best bakeries in central London. It's quite new but already has a cult following. Its baked goods are unreal and there is so much choice which is a good reason to keep going back.
“I'm excited about the NoMad opening in Bow Street, Covent Garden. I've missed good cocktail bars, and new hotels are always really fun for people watching, at least for the first few months. I can't wait to pitch up for a Martini in my new local.
“Supporting businesses in Chinatown is really important at the moment, having experienced a huge loss in revenue due to COVID restrictions. More upsettingly, there has been racist rhetoric surrounding the communities who live and work here, so spending money and experiencing culture there is also an act of solidarity. I often visit the supermarkets on Gerrard Street for vegetables and fresh noodles to cook at home.”
Marylou Faure, Artist and Illustrator
“I really want to return to Pidgin, in Hackney, for a lovely meal or head to Marksman for a roast. Then go to Selfish in Shoreditch for a detox facial; it is incredible; you leave with your face looking red and puffy, but it’s worth it.
Iona Mathieson and Romy St Clair, Co-Founders of Sage Flowers
Iona (left): "SAGE re-opens on 13 April and I'm counting down the days until we can sell flowers to our community in Peckham again. I'll definitely be treating myself to some Yo Keshh nails, which is also on Rye Lane. Keshia does the most insane designs, all freehand; she's also a total laugh and brilliant to talk to about motherhood and business. Then I'll head to Soho for lunch and dinner at some of my faves: Barrafina for the croquettes and Kiln for something off the grill.”
Romy (right): “Brockwell Lido in Brixton for a dip: I love the mix of cultures and ages there, and the little restaurant, 400 Rabbits at The Lido, is great too. Then The Camberwell Arms for lunch and a cocktail – its Thai dressed crab with chips is my fave. Special mentions go to: Artusi, The Begging Bowl, Mr Bao, Pedler and Ganapati, which are all in Peckham. Eat Vietnam in Deptford is insanely delicious too."
Alex Brownsell, Co-founder and Creative Director of BLEACH London
“London Fields Lido is one of the only outdoor heated pools in London. We had one in my hometown Daventry when I was growing up and it was the place to be, so it reminds me of school summer holidays.“
“For drinks, it has to be Pamela on Kingsland Road. In a former life, Pamela was a Bleach London pop-up bar for three months. It was the best and worst thing we ever did as a business. Me and my business partner, Sam Campbell, nearly died of partying too much, but it was really fun. It’s a really great night out with amazing cocktails and vegan food. It’s right by our Dalston salon and that part of Kingsland Road feels like my local area after having the salon there for 11 years.”
“I miss the cinema so much and I can’t wait to watch something on the big screen at Hackney Picture House with a bag of sweets.”
Bianca Saunders, Menswear Designer
“Viva Dalston is a great tapas and drinks spot, it’s my go-to for meeting people to catch up and chat. Cecconi’s has to be my favourite restaurant, I love the atmosphere and the decor is amazing. I miss swimming at Charlton Lido, it’s how I relax. I joined a swimming club in 2019 and it’s become my hobby.”
And Eight London restaurants to book now, from us...
St John, Clerkenwell. Simple, stripped-back, foodie temple next to Smithfield meat market with an all-French wine list (try the own-label Picpoul). Taking bookings for 17 May onwards.
BRAT, Shoreditch. Rustic, Basque-inspired cooking on an open wood fire grill in the Tea Building - enter via Redchurch Street. Taking bookings for 17 May onwards.
Cecconi’s, Mayfair. Swanky all-day Italian dining still has outdoor tables available from 12 April. Online and email bookings for indoors for 15 May onwards.
Lina Stores, Soho. This snug restaurant on Greek Street is an off-shoot of the famous Italian deli on Brewer Street. Its antipasti and pasta are to die for. Book for 17 May onwards for tables of up to four people.
Roka. Modern Japanese and some of London’s best sushi. Its Charlotte Street and Mayfair branches have some availability on the terraces from 12 April, or book ahead for an indoor table from 17 May.
Spring, Somerset House. Simple dishes celebrating seasonal ingredients, in a beautiful setting. Try the zero-waste ‘Scratch’ set menu (available 5.30pm-6.30pm), made from leftover produce. Book for 19 May onwards.
Bright, London Fields. Laid-back vibes with a pared-back modern European menu that people rave about. The terrazzo is available for walk-ins from April 12. Book indoors for 19 May onwards.
Header image by: Justin Leighton / Alamy Stock Photo
London is open(ing) - these are the places to get booking right now.
By Hanna Woodside