Although chains abound in Shepherd’s Bush thanks to the domineering Westfield, step outside the mega-mall's shiny surrounds and you can discover a whole lot of real places to eat and drink in the old-world SheBu. This western borough borders several worlds: posh Holland Park, dishevelled Uxbridge Road, twee Chiswick and homely Hammersmith. Meanwhile, the green at the centre — previously bordered by grimy takeaways and tat shops — is slowly being gentrified and begrudgingly becoming (and is now also home to the 4-star Dorsett Hotel).
Get your fry-up fix at unashamed greasy spoon Embassy Cafe, or an equally affordable but more upmarket version at Liz Cafe, just off the green. Almost in Hammersmith, there's the brand-new Blue Corner Cafe, which has incredibly good-value continental options. Hummingbird Deli is a new, more accessible offshoot of the Hummingbird Cafe, which knocks up quiches, tortillas, and healthy salads on site. The portions are massive and we particularly love the colourful wooden chairs.
Next to, and owned by, the music hall, Bush Hall Dining Rooms create arguably the best dishes in the area and offer a ridiculously good value lunch (they’re good for brunch too). They’re unfairly under-patronised so you’re almost guaranteed a table. Thai restaurant Jasmine serves very good meals at any time of day; the jungle curry is blistering, but it’s hard to beat their lunch deal of £5.95 for any dish. Nottingdale (open weekdays only) mostly serves the neighbouring Monsoon and TalkTalk offices, but is worth dropping by for its extremely cheap salads and jacket potatoes. And don’t be fooled by the unassuming frontage Mr Falafel, next to Shepherds Bush Market, is a local legend.
Middle-eastern restaurants abound along Uxbridge Road, but we particularly recommend Abu Zaad and Ayam Zaman; both are warm, affordable, welcoming and full of character. The Academy skirts Holland Park and is easily missed down a residential street but worth visiting for excellent food (get the burger) in stylish surroundings. Nearby, Genie’s at Hollands may not provide gourmet cuisine, but the eclectic decor, live pianist, and eponymous local celebrity Genie ensure a convivial atmosphere. Rivalling East London for the best fish and chips in town, Kerbisher & Malt don’t have too many tables but they do offer takeaways. Bush Hall Dining Rooms (again) also creative, flavourful, retro-modern dishes alongside craft beers and original cocktails (while next door ticket-holders can access the pre-gig/post-theatre deal).
Something special — fine dining
Shepherds Bush is not known for its fine dining but the newly-arrived Dorsett Hotel hopes to change that with their in-house restaurant, Shikumen. They serve upmarket dimsum in swanky surrounds and we hear good things although we are too poor to have visited (yet).
The Bird In Hand in Brook Green serves enormous and excellent wood-fired pizzas with delicious, unusual toppings, which compliment their extensive bar. A few doors down, the award-winning Havelock Tavern has a small but perfectly-formed menu, decent beers, and outdoor seating on a quiet road. We love former gin palace, the Princess Victoria, for its airy space, sweetly welcoming “Herb Garden”, and home-made ginger beer, but we’re assured that the food is equally wonderful. SheBu’s best Sunday roasts can be found at the Queen Adelaide, although it’s worth visiting any day of the week; and we hear nothing but good things about the Anglesea Arms, which changes its menu daily, according to available produce.
Yes, it’s in the belly of the beast, but Sacred — found on Westfield’s ground floor — serves arguably the best coffee in the area. Hummingbird Cafe has comparatively pricey cakes but lovely lattes and frothy cappuccinos made with Ozone and Square Mile. And although lacking in bricks and mortar, Scottie’s Coffee (usually found outside the Esso Petrol Station, 62 Wood Lane) uses Allpress beans to produce wonderful flat whites from the back of a van.
For the hot drink spot that used to reign supreme, try Betty Blythe, a vintage tearoom hidden away in Brook Green. Arrive early to avoid the hen parties, or book the whole place for a retro bash of your own.
Easily the best pub in the Bush, the Defector’s Weld has friendly service, a wide range of craft beer, cosy modern decor, and does an excellent burger. Immediately opposite, The Green isn’t particularly special but the place to go if you want to catch a game on a big screen with fellow fans. Hidden away, the Crown & Sceptre is a traditional local boozer with a friendly atmosphere and several decent board games.
Arguably more bar than pub, this branch of Brewdog provides post-apocalyptic industrial chic and all the beers we know and love. Feeling flush? Pop into Westfield’s glittering Village and visit Searcy's Champagne Bar.
Culture vultures will relish the surrounds of the Bush Theatre’s bar which is housed in an old library, complete with shelves of play-texts, though mercifully silence is the one thing that hasn’t been retained. Their beers and wines are fairly average, but soft drinks are a bit more unusual. Easily missed but for its proximity to Latimer Road station, Garden Bar is named for its impressive beer garden which they claim is the largest in central London. Drinks are standard but food is good, and festooned as it is with fairy-lights, the place is surprisingly romantic.
We’ve seen queues just off the green outside club BarFM where they offer karaoke, live bands and DJs until 2:30am on Friday and Saturday. The Defector’s Weld has a DJ and remains open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays, and Sindercombe Social offers a line in burgers until 10pm and music until 1am, for a generally younger crowd than the Weld. And for when all you need is something to soak up the alcohol, Abu Zaad does a cracking mixed grill.
By Robyn Jankel