Thursday, August 07, 2014

Notting Hill - London

Portobello Road
Our neighborhood for our week in London was Notting Hill.  I chose it because it was a place I had always wanted to visit but never had the chance, and it seemed like a likely place to find a good Air BnB rental. Our flat was a small studio with a fold out couch, but there was a stand of Barclay's Bikes within spitting distance, a bus stop right out front, and a tube stop a block away, and the $140. per night price would have made up for any shortcomings in any case.  (I really wanted this one, but someone booked it before I could get to it.)
Our building in London
We were within walking distance of Notting Hill's trendy business district Westbourne Grove, and Kensington Palace with it's beautiful gardens and the Orangerie tea room.  The building was an old art deco style building that had recently been refurbished, on Palace Garden Terrace, just off Notting Hill Gate.  There was a Paul Rhodes bakery just at the end of the street (that's the bus stop in front of the building out the window below).  I wasn't familiar with this chain but they are numerous in London.  Don't go out of your way, it's nothing extra. We popped in for our morning coffee and a bite several times during the week and I was sort of fascinated by this stack of scones.  It stayed there, for several days. I couldn't tell if they were selling them all every day or if it was the same stack.  They must have been new ones, but it was a little strange that they never moved.
Scones at Paul Rhodes Bakery
After grabbing emergency coffee at Paul Rhodes on the first morning, we walked over to Granger & Co. in Westbourne Grove, a popular breakfast spot owned by Australian chef Bill Granger. It had a surprisingly West Coast vibe to it with a boho chic crowd to match.
Granger & Co.
At breakfast they specialize in these velvety looking scrambled eggs.  I didn't try them but they do look interesting don't they?  Ben said they were good.
Granger & Co.
I chose the chili fried egg and bacon brioche roll with spiced mango chutney and rocket. It tasted just as good as it looks - in other words, damn near perfect.  (And I mean, who could resist a chili fried egg??)
Breakfast at Granger & Co.
James had the avocado toast (he was a leetle hung over.)  The last time I spent time in London, I don't think I even saw an avocado, but good news travels fast I guess.  This was lovely with huge creamy chunks and cilantro - definitely a taste of home.
Granger & Co.
They have a beautiful display of pastries and cakes piled on the counter near the entrance - this was a popular thing there, often accompanied by a beautiful oversized flower arrangement.  We saw it in lots of cafes and at the festival - it reminded me of the desserts displayed at Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkeley.
Granger & Co.
The Ottolenghi cafe around the corner from Granger & Co.has theirs right in the window, and it looks over the top amazing.  The fact that we didn't get a chance to eat here (or at any of the other Ottolenghi restaurants) was one of the (few) disappointments of the trip.  Next time, for sure.
Ottolenghi in Notting Hill
Westbourne Grove is a trendy district of shops and cafes - it reminded me a lot of the West Village in NYC, in terms of the vibe and jewel box shops showcasing the best of everything - like Daylesford Organics - where the picture below was taken.
Daylesford Organic in Notting Hill
And Nicki Tibbles' Wild at Heart florist shop....
Nicki Tibbles Wild at Heart in Notting Hill
And of course, Ottolenghi.
Ottolenghi in Notting Hill
One of the reasons I picked Notting Hill was to check out the Portobello Road Saturday morning antique market.  I was warned that it was "touristy" - but I figured that was kind of a given. I was completely unprepared for the onslaught of humanity that descended on the place at 8 AM.  It was so overwhelming and unpleasant that we didn't make it very far - and the few stalls and shops I saw didn't seem to be offering anything very exciting.  We were running a few minutes late, so we bailed out of there and headed on up to Cambridge, where I spent the summer of 1990 drinking beer and Bailey's on the rocks and trying to smoke Silk Cuts.  More on that, plus dining at St. John and the Clove Club - coming up.  :)  


  1. Alice,
    I can't wait to read the rest of your trip report. St. John is a favorite of mine. I was in London last week and had dinner at the Clove Club too! I am curious to see what your impressions were.