The weather being so glorious and the next bank holiday in sight, we thought we’d bring you a selection of great dining spots in London parks. That way when you’re done with your leisurely stroll, game of tennis or you’ve finished reading a book in the sun, you can pop to a nearby restaurant for a spot of lunch and a glass of wine to toast the month of May and its two bank holiday Mondays…
Inn the Park, St James’s Park, SW1
“This architecturally striking venue certainly has a stellar location, within St James’s Park, and some “wonderful al fresco tables”; standards, traditionally lacklustre, have improved of late, and breakfast here is always “an uplifting way to start the day”.
Kenwood House, Hamstead Heath, NW3
“Nothing beats sitting outside on the terrace”, and a Full English at this smart self-service café, at the top of Hampstead Heath, makes a great way to start the day; later on, you can “eat delicious sandwiches, while sipping expensive coffee”.
The Old Brewery, Greenwich Park, SE10
The impressive garden is usually “packed with tourists”, but any visitor to this historic Greenwich site will be pleased by the formidable range of home-brews, plus the decent, if “basic”, dishes to go with ’em.
The Lido Café, Brockwell Park, SE24
“Brilliant” breakfasts are a highlight of the dining experience at this “spectacular” south London lido, but its “good honest grub” is enjoyable at any time; “book a table by the window, so you can watch the swimmers”.
The Victoria, Richmond Park, SW14
Handy for Richmond Park, a big and “friendly” East Sheen gastroboozer, where the “imaginative” and “very appealing” dishes are realised “with a sophistication worthy of pricier establishments”.
Ones to watch
We hear these park cafés impress punters. Tell us your opinions in this year’s survey.
The Magazine Restaurant, Hyde Park, W2
Zaha Hadid, no less, is the architect of the restaurant of this gallery in the heart of Hyde Park, which opened as our guide went to press last year; the chef, Berlin-born Oliver Lange, apparently cooks in British style. Feedback welcome.
Café on the Rye, Peckham Common, SE15
Owners Fiona Halton and Andy Clayton use local suppliers – William Rose butcher, Let Them Eat Cake bakery – to create a menu of breakfasts, burgers and daily specials that kids and grown-ups both seem to love.
Pavilion Café, Victoria Park, E9
From the owners of Elliot’s Café in Borough Market comes this summery spot on the edge of Victoria Park’s lake. As well as breakfasts and lunches diners can enjoy homemade lemonade and vegetarians are well catered for.
The Serpentine, Hyde Park, W2
Benugo, one of the better café chains, is behind this restaurant on the eastern edge of the Hyde Park boating lake. The chefs serve up sandwiches and crispy wood-fired oven pizzas, as well as a menu of more upmarket offerings.
Springfield Park Café, Springfield Park, E5
Set in 40 acres of beautifully landscaped parkland, this little hideaway is deemed one of London’s ‘hidden treasures’. Food is popular with locals, but that’s not the only draw – creations by local artists decorate the walls and there is a lovely tea lawn.
How are they doing now?
A couple of London’s park cafés failed to impress during the survey last year. Let us know if you think there has been any improvement (or further decline), by taking part in this year’s survey.
Petersham Nurseries, Petersham Meadows, TW10
“Primitive, scruffy, but oh-so-trendy” – this “ramshackle” venue (in the glasshouse of an upmarket garden centre) makes a famously “quirky” setting; since Skye Gyngell’s departure, however, its performance seems ever more “smug and overpriced”.
Chiswick House Café, Chiswick House Gardens, W2
“You love or hate the new building” (a symphony in concrete), but this year-old park café undoubtedly occupies “such an idyllic spot”; “why didn’t an independent get it”, though? – the menu’s “very limited”, and service “breaks down” at peak times.
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