My hood: Sharing the local love.

We are foreigners in a strange land. I washed up on London’s shore from Sydney and The Swede, not surprisingly, hails from Sweden. Needless to say, we have a lot of visitors passing through our little Holland Park home.

The first thing most people ask upon arrival is where they should eat and what they should see in the area. To this, my response is a well-practiced blank stare. How should I know? Sure, I live here. But half the time I don’t even realise I am outside until the chill sets in and I realise I forgot my jacket.

As a means of resolving these increasingly awkward encounters, I have taken the time to collate a list of the places we most frequent in our hood. It is made for you. But mostly, it is made for me so I no longer have to respond to questions I don’t have the answer to: www.babbleandbite.com – knock yourself out.

  1. I love truffles. If you didn’t know that, then you don’t know me at all. Imagine my elation when I discovered our local Italian has a full seasonal menu dedicated to that glorious fungi. Go for the burrata, but stay for the homemade tagliolini cloaked in a blanket of black truffle. Edera, 148 Holland Park Avenue, London, W11 4UE

  2. There are few things I love more (and, sadly, there are few things I am more horrendous at) than a good round of pub quiz. The Hillgate holds a fantastic one every Monday evening from 8:00PM. The food is tasty, so we usually book a table from 7:00PM and grab dinner beforehand. Need a team? We are always adopting members, so feel free to come on board with The Swede and I [NB: only individuals with a wealth of useless knowledge need apply]. 24 Hillgate Street, London, W8 7SR

    Parmesan gnocchi with watercress, wild mushrooms, oven-dried tomatoes and garden peas.
  3. Looking to watch a football game? Me neither. However, The Swede often likes to and, much to my annoyance, compromise is key when it comes to building a sustainable relationship. When I have exhausted all other avenues of diversion, I can think of worse places to be than The Prince Edward. The food is not great, but as far as traditional English pubs go, this is a good one. There is a wide array of comfortable seating and television screens a-plenty. And if you choose your position correctly, there is very little glare to interrupt alternative iPad viewing. 73 Princes Square, London, W2 4NY 
  4. It is a Wednesday evening and I cannot bring myself to cook: E&O is our first point of call. A pan-Asian restaurant and cocktail bar, it is a fun little place to dine and down a few drinks. Especially in the summer months, when the warmer weather lends itself to al fresco dining and a front-row viewing of local personalities. Don’t forget to order the sea bass sashimi with yuzu and truffle oil. And the wagyu tataki with citrus ponzu and garlic chips (feature image). 14 Blenheim Crescent, London, W11 1NN 
    Sea bass sashimi with yuzu and truffle oil.
    Black cod with sweet miso.
  5. Looking for a bit of physical action? Again, me neither. However, if tennis happens to be your thing, Holland Park has a number of courts than can be hired by the hour. If you are lucky, you may even catch a rare glimpse of me flailing a racket around against my will. The Swede bought me a ridiculous outfit for the one hit I have had all year. It means I feel even more like a jackass when I lose. ‘At least Bjorn Borg is Swedish’, he says in response to my scowl. Ilchester Place, London, W8

  6. So let me try this again for those less-physical beings: Holland Park. It is a beautiful space where squirrels abound and children run free in well-kept gated playgrounds. The Kyoto Garden is worth a wander. But by far the best activity on offer is to unfold a picnic blanket on a vacant stretch of grass by the fountain and while the afternoon away with a good book and a bottle of rose. Ilchester Place, London, W8

  7. Travelling with a kitchen handy – or have free reign of mine? Definitely make use of the wonderful stores lining Holland Park Avenue. Coming from the station of an evening, I often stop first at Jeroboams to pick up some after-dinner cheese (they usually stock burrata, yippee!), followed by Nicolas for a bottle of wine and Michanicou Brothers for fresh fruit and veg (in my opinion, the best greengrocer in London – plus they always let you try before you buy). Last stop is Lidgates for some of the best meat you can get your hands on. Need fish? A short stroll up to Kensington Church Street yields the amazing Kensington Place Fish Shop. For each of these places, I cannot sing enough praise. Holland Park Avenue, London, W11

  8. Warm summer air means Aperol Spritz and sunshine. Nowhere is better for this than The Ladbroke Arms, with its large terrace and outdoor seating. The food is good too, so settle in for lunch and have a drink or three for me. 54 Ladbroke Road, London, W11 3NW 
    Aperol Spritz.
    Goats cheese with candy and golden beetroot, pea shoots, pumpkin seeds and truffle honey.
  9. I am not a huge breakfast fan, but when I do partake, I go all in. Granger & Co is one of my top picks because it reminds me of my other home: Surry Hills, Sydney. The menu doesn’t stray far from what I know either. You simply can’t go wrong with the sweetcorn fritters with roasted tomato, spinach and bacon – or the ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter (NB: photo credit to Baker Yee). And everything tastes better with a breakfast bellini and a rare-for-London well-made latte. Be sure to go on a weekday when the queues run short(er). 175 Westbourne Grove, London, W11 2SB 
    Ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter.
  10. I think I spent a sufficient number of words waxing lyrical about the joys of Sunday roast in a previous post, so I will spare you a second bout. However, I think The Mitre does one of the best in the area. Send my love to Jean-Michel, my favourite Holland Park hospitality hero. If he rolls his eyes, it is probably because I am sitting nearby. 40 Holland Park Avenue, W11 3QY 
    Suffolk farm chicken, stuffing, pork shipload sausage, bread sauce, Yorkshire pudding, seasonal vegetables, roast potatoes and gravy.

So there you have it: the surrounding area of Holland Park through the eyes of The Swede and myself. I assume that this deems me exempt from ever having to answer that god forsaken ‘where should we go?’ question until the end of time. At least it had better.

UPDATE: The Ladbroke Arms has superseded The Mitre in terms of Sunday Roasts for me! Definitely my new favourite in the area.

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