Feeling a bit peckish but don't know what you're in the mood for? We're so spoilt for choice in London it's hard to know where to start, so here's a street full of independent restaurants to get you going.
Daisy Green Food
Beginning at the south end of the street, the nearest to Marble Arch station, we find Daisy Green Food. This Aussie influenced cafe is the brainchild of Prue Freeman who packed in her job in finance to sell fro-yo from a van. After moving into the coffee market, she eventually opened Daisy Green — the baby of her restaurant franchise, which is now opening its eighth site.
The food is heavily influenced by Prue's Ballarat beginnings, where she grew up on a rural farm, and she returns to Australia frequently in order to find inspiration for new dish ideas. Quite a few of the current menu items are actually family recipes. Their award-winning banana bread sandwich was passed on to her from her grandmother Peggy. Their rocky road comes from her great auntie's recipe.
Daisy Green emphasises on selling fresh food — healthy and naughty — on site every day. Their 24-hour pastry kitchen ensures the best quality possible, and their British meat comes from small farms in the Norfolk area.
A menu item they highly recommend is their fancy bacon roll, which comes with Indian flatbread and is piled high with bacon — "there's got to be loads of bacon", they told us. Their most unusual item on the menu is probably their black charcoal bread, but how it's made is a closely guarded secret.
Seating is available outside to make the most of the sun, and the dining area inside is light and airy (though it can get packed with the lunch time queue). But make sure you take your food downstairs to the Alice in Wonderland themed dining room and outside alcoves. The decor is floral, bright, and eccentric, designed by a local artist Shuby, and it's hard to miss the giant paper mache rabbit head. We have to wonder what the Australian prime minister thought of that when he dropped by on a visit to London...
A trip to Daisy Green is worthwhile for typical friendly-Aussie service and particularly for the brunch menu.
Daisy Green Food is open Monday-Friday 7am-6pm, Saturday 8am-6pm, Sunday 9am-6pm.
When Zayna's head chef and owner Riz Dar tried to make room for new items on his menu by taking off a few others, his regulars and locals were outraged at the loss of their favourite foods. "I took off an okra dish but they weren't having any of it", he said. "It's not on the menu anymore, but if they ask for it I cook it for them anyway".
No wonder the restaurant is in the top 5% of London restaurants on TripAdvisor with service like that.
This family-run authentic Pakistani/north-Indian restaurant opened on New Quebec Street at the worst time possible — September 2008, during the UK's hard-hitting credit crunch. For Riz however, his restaurant was an intense passion and soon word of mouth brought visitors and regulars through the door in droves.
On the top of your list should be the Murgh Taka Tuk, the signature dish of marinated chicken off the bone, slow cooked in a clay oven and finished on the griddle with onions, tomatoes, green chillies and fresh coriander. Zayna is vegetarian-friendly too, with the Lahori Chunay coming highly recommended. Chickpeas cooked overnight with onion, garlic, ginger and cumin, it's enough to get the mouth watering.
The spices, herbs, marinades and sauces are sourced from trusted Indian supply specialists who import for family owned businesses, and their vegetables come fresh from Covent Garden market every day.
Dining here, you might find yourself in the company of a few billionaires, lords, or the owner of Fulham Football Club. Another celebrity sighting Riz remembers is when he was discussing the restaurant's lighting with a designer friend sat at a table for two (they're planning a refurb in 2018). The designer wasn't happy with the lighting at their table and asked to move, to the unexplained despair of her friend. Once sat comfortably at their new table, the friend revealed she'd recognised the man sitting at the table next to them as Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. Her eavesdropping plans had been foiled.
Zayna's authentic and quality ingredients are at the restaurant's core, and with Pakistani/north-Indian restaurants few and far between in London's West End, this is a regional meal not to be missed.
Zayna is open Monday-Thursday 5pm-10.30pm, Friday 5pm-11pm, Saturday-Sunday noon-2.30pm and 5pm-10.30pm
New kid on the block Boxcar is already making waves on London's food scene since its June 2017 opening, with incredible meats butchered and prepared on site and surprisingly affordable dishes for the Marylebone area. The chefs have a passion for seasonal produce, and all their beef comes from Thirsk in North Yorkshire. "We want to show what's available within our own country without having to go to supermarkets for food bought in from elsewhere", the told us.
Boxcar is the project of Barry Hirst (of Open House) and school friend Matthew Tidinan, to showcase the best of British produce and farmers and bring local Londoners "the quality they deserve". Everything about the restaurant's design is bespoke, and a butchery cabinet sits near the entrance for those without the time to sit and eat, so they can grab some of their delicacies to take home.
The menu items to look out for here are the 45-day aged burgers and the 28-day aged steak, or for a great deal try the pork pies, each injected with a pork and cider sauce. Every recipe has been developed over the past year through close contact with the producers and farmers to ensure every meal is cooked to perfection.
So far it's received great support from locals, as well as rave reviews, and they're hoping to increase the public's interest in cooking meat properly by holding masterclasses in the on-site butchery. Each class will be tailor-made every month depending on the cuts of meat available or requested, and eager students will learn to to cook them to get the best results.
Boxcar is open Monday-Sunday 8am-10pm
The Grazing Goat
Cubbitt House owns a fair few pubs around London, beginning with The Thomas Cubbitt on Elizabeth Street when the founders wanted a nice local pub in the area they lived. A few years down the line, The Grazing Goat took up residency on New Quebec Street. If you're wondering about the name, it's all down to a lady with a dairy allergy. Lady Portman used to graze her goats in the area — now covered in concrete — in order to add goats' milk into her diet.
Each of the Cubbitt House pubs has its own identity, but the two things they all have in common are selling seasonable and sustainable British produce, and getting involved in the local communities by taking part in festivals and street parties.
Lyons Hill Farm supplies the meat you'll find at The Grazing Goat — it specialises in rarer breeds like White Park cattle. And they really do use every part of the animal in their efforts to be as sustainable as possible, including Glazed Waveney Valley pigs cheeks with black pudding, baby turnips and apricot salsa. Or perhaps crispy tongue is more your style in the Norfolk Horn lamb rack main with truffles pommes Anna and English peas.
You won't find the grill menu at Cubbitt's other pubs, so tuck into the beef, lamb, pork or chicken. They once attempted to take their chilli salt squid starter off the menu, but brought it back following much protestation, so that's definitely worth a taste.
The menu tends to change seasonally, although in reality some dishes change every two weeks in order to work with sustainable farmers and the produce they can source. The fish also comes from a sustainable fishing area in Lyme Bay, and so changes daily depending on what's available that day at the market.
Considering it's a pub with great locally sourced beers, we're advised that their cocktails are actually rather extraordinary if you're looking for something a little more fruity and sophisticated. And if you find yourself getting a little too sloshed, you could always see if they have a free room at the hotel just upstairs.
Grazing Goat is open Monday-Sunday 7.30am-11pm
La Petite Poisonnerie
Owner Nic "I am a rascal" Rascle is a joy to talk to about La Petite Poissonerie, and meeting him is worth a trip there in itself. This isn't your typical restaurant — mainly because it isn't a restaurant, though there are eight seats if you'd like to eat in. Should they be full, you can pre-order and pick up in store, or pop along spontaneously and take something home.
Despite its resoundingly French sounding name, La Petite Poissonerie is a French and Japanese hybrid concept selling sushi bento boxes, black cod miso, and Brandade de Morue (a mixture of salt cod and olive oil eaten with bread or potatoes).
80% of the British fish produce comes from local markets, and every Friday, fresh oysters are delivered direct from France. There are big plans ahead; while they can already recommend the best alcoholic tipple to accompany each fish, an alcohol licence is in the works in order to serve you then and there so you can see for yourself. They also want to add an oyster bar into the repertoire.
Asked what people should know about La Petite Poissonerie, Nic said "we're very friendly and we love what we do. Ask us questions so we can advise on the best choices. We're here to help".
Originally, Rascle wasn't even looking at this area as the site for his second shop, but "New Quebec Street chose me. I loved the village feeling of the street". Three years later, La Petite Poissonerie has loyal regulars, as well as visitors coming from as far away as Japan after seeing them featured on Japanese TV.
If there's one thing you should try on the menu, Nic highly recommends the Donburi — a bowl of fish, rice and vegetables made fresh each day. Convinced of a second visit? Then the sashimi or fish soup should be next on your list.
La Petite Poissonerie is open Tuesday-Saturday 9.30am-7.30pm [closed for August]