London is full of amazing parks and greenspaces. It’s also full of those patches of grass in front of flats and next to playgrounds that you somehow end up settling for after three pints. Don’t do that. Go to a proper park because, aside from being much nicer, they’re also next to some great places to eat and drink once you’re done doing nothing in the sun. Here are some of the best across the whole of London.
A sunny day spent on Hampstead Heath is a sunny day well spent. Unless you went swimming in the ponds, got out to find somebody had taken your clothes, and resorted to wearing a Female Body Inspector t-shirt you found. In which case, our condolences. At least nobody at the Southampton Arms will care. This Gospel Oak pub is as old school and no nonsense as they come. Ale. Cider. Crackling filled pork baps. Sausage rolls. And an excellent vegetarian scotch egg.
Whether you’ve been at Hampstead Heath, Waterlow Park, or wandering around Highgate Woods, The Flask is a good place for an after-party, if only because hanging out in a spacious garden in Highgate Village would usually cost you seven figures and/or an arrest for breaking and entering. This old pub got bought by Fuller’s a few years back. They’ve given it a little bit of TLC whilst retaining it’s village-y and hidey-hole interior, and on a nice day it’s got one of the best beer gardens in London. The food is nice enough, and there’s decent choice, so it’s a good place to head if you’re with someone who’s a bit picky.
Finsbury Park, when playing host to a festival, is about as enjoyable as building works outside your window on New Year’s Day. But once the WKD has drained away, it’s a great park to laze about in. Especially as you’ve got Dotori next to the station. This little Korean and Japanese restaurant is a neighbourhood favourite. Once you’ve tried their seafood pancake and their bulgogi beef, you’ll know why. Be prepared to queue if it’s a weekend evening. And remember to bring cash.
So you took a frisbee to the face in Brockwell Park, who cares? You’re at Llewelyn’s now and it’s basically impossible to feel stressed, unhappy, or concerned about the mountain range that’s appeared on your forehead when you’re in this kind of setting. You can expect dishes like lasagne, caesar salads, and a flourless chocolate cake you’ll ditch any lido for, but be warned, it’s very popular with locals so you should probably book ahead at weekends.
Lemonia is a Primrose Hill stalwart and you can virtually roll there from the top of the hill. This old school Greek restaurant is a good-times place that’s less about the food and more about the people you’re with. That said, the hot and cold mezze is reliably tasty, and there’s a load of grilled meat and fish to choose from as well. Primrose Hill types have been coming here for years so it’s safe to say, children are very welcome.
Once the barbecue’s checked out, the booze has run out, and you’ve stopped trying to eat a half-thawed Linda McCartney sausage, leave Highbury Fields behind and go to Trullo. You’ll find the segway from prosecco to pappardelle a very easy one as this is one of London’s best Italian restaurants. It’s a relaxed and relaxing place to be, whether you just want a plate of pasta, or you’re staying for the lip-smacking Amalfi lemon tart as well.
Right next to Richmond Park, or, to those not familiar with it, the one where Fenton the dog is from, is Petersham Nurseries. This greenhouse café - full of preened flowers and expensive Italian food - is a wealthy grandmother’s dream. Book a table in the conservatory after a respectable walk around the park with the family and tuck into a plate of tagliatelle.
After an exhausting day doing absolutely naff all in Peckham Rye Park, Mr. Bao is the restaurant you want to come to as a reward. It specialises in Taiwanese bao buns that will cause you to say til death to us part to a shiitake mushroom. Apart from baos, the small plates are also extremely delicious, and the fact that this place is constantly full of friends and families speak volumes.
During the summer Clissold Park feels like a never ending It’s Nice That garden party soundtracked to seven quid beers cracking everywhere. Needless to say, we love it. We also love the brunch at Esters, a café off Church Street. This place serves some of the best (and most unconventional) things with eggs and French toast in London. It’s walk-in, and there’s pretty much always a queue, but it moves fast.
Odds are that if you’re in Victoria Park on a belter of a day, then the Pavilion Café is gonna be rammed. Like, people spilling out into the pond and eating eggs benedict with the ducks rammed. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the wait though. The breakfasts and brunches here are very tasty and all the bread is baked freshly every day. There’s nothing revolutionary going on: eggs, pancakes, and customary avocado stuff. But it’s all spot on.
Jim’s Café is a casual American diner-style day and night restaurant in the middle of Chatsworth Road. So whether you’ve been in the sewage water of Hackney Marshes, pretending there isn’t a packet of McCoys and an Ofo bike floating past you, or just lazing about in Millfields Park, it’s an easy 15 minute walk from either. The double cheeseburger is particularly good here, but there are vegan, vegetarian, and kid’s options as well.
The Olympic Park is a strange place. Parts of it feel like it’s been made by a Dementor that’s pivoted into property development, and then other parts are full of lovely woodland flowers and people fishing. We prefer the second part, though we’re also thankful that Hand is part of the other bit. This Greek-inspired café makes superb brunches - chickpea and egg medleys, baked things, toasties - alongside good coffee.
London Fields is appropriately named because, when it’s hot, it feels like the entire city has descended upon this patch of grass. It becomes less green space and more of a Guinness World Record attempt at alcohol consumption in a 31 acre area. Once every blade of grass is covered (in tinnies) you’ll want to make a move to a nicer environment, like Bright. This London Fields wine bar will keep you merry, and their small plates - katsu sando in particular - can’t be ignored.
Smack bang between Holland Park and Kensington Palace Gardens is Maggie Jones’s. This British restaurant specialises in hearty British food which roughly translates to: potatoes and butter. If you don’t think that you want stilton mousse or fish pie in this kind of weather then you’re sadly mistaken, drunk, or both.
Five minutes from Regent’s Park station is Fischer’s, a Viennese-inspired brasserie that produces schnitzel that’s even crisper than the breeze coming out of its air-conditioning unit. It’s part of the same restaurant group as The Wolseley, so the service is slick and the room is like a Wes Anderson set minus Bill Murray. Crispy schnitzel aside, there’s a pretty good selection of herring, and a very nice pancake dessert.
You know those picnics you plan when drunk? Where you get all excited about going to Regents Park instead? The ones where one friend is going to grill peppers and make a broad bean houmous, and another is going to marinade chicken for 48 hours in a sauce passed through three generations of their family, and then you all wake up the next day and buy some houmous and Doritos from Tesco with a side of Berocca? Well, Honey & Co is basically all of those dream mezze dishes you want to make for a picnic but never do, in a restaurant.
Hide is tree-cum-restaurant opposite Green Park. The interior is apparently based on the nature opposite, and so, as a result, it looks like an Ent got funding from an oligarch and built an homage to his race. Wooden aesthetics aside, you want to head to the ground floor here. It’s a little more casual. And it’s open breakfast to dinner. Be aware: this place is expensive. Even if the tunic-wearing staff do look like impoverished extras from Game of Thrones.