We’re pretty sure that when Darwin came up with his ‘survival of the fittest’ theory, he was in fact studying a group of Londoners attempting to pay rent, work, commute, socialise, and, you know, breathe, at the same time. To survive in this city you have to be strong. Or at the very least, be really good at handling the emotional upheaval of leaving yet another umbrella on the night bus. That’s where Llewlyn’s comes in. Because this restaurant is one of the best ways to escape the stress of London, without having to manically flee it via the M3.
This neighbourhood spot is right by Herne Hill station, and short of hiring George Clooney to hand feed you, it’s probably the most charmed you can be whilst eating. Before you even take a single step inside Llewelyn’s, you’ll already know that stress has no place here. As you walk across the square towards the sleek black exterior, you might hear someone playing the street piano inside the station, or smell the flowers at the florist next door, and you might even see an actual bird’s nest in their fairy light wrapped tree outside. Basically, if your only reference points for England were Christopher Robin’s childhood and binge-watching Richard Curtis films, this is the kind of restaurant you’d think exists on the corner of every British street. But, as most Londoners know, they don’t. Llewelyn’s is special.
One of the things that makes this place the kind of restaurant you want to - and can - escape to time, and time, and time again, is that their menu of seasonal dishes changes daily. For lunch, you can expect your classic daytime favourites - there’s nothing too challenging going on, maybe a caesar salad, maybe a fresh broad bean and pea risotto, and maybe a house terrine, all done just right. By night, everything shifts to being a bit more sophisticated - some butter almonds with wild garlic here, a little langoustine beurre blanc there, but it’s still the kind of food you can carry on a conversation over.
There’s no single way to escape London at Llewelyn’s. You could come by for a cosy date night in the middle of winter, sit at their simple white counter, and power through a bottle of red and their Hereford beef lasagne for two. Or you could rock up solo on the hottest day of the year and pick at a Cornish lemon sole out on their terrace whilst watching the people of Herne Hill go about their business. You’ll be happy. Will it be because the food is transcendent? No. It’s because the food here is reliable, familiar, and surprisingly affordable, especially when you’re sharing.
As much as Llewelyn’s might make you feel like you’re now a full-time Enid Blyton character, you do need to do a little planning before you come here. The fact that Llewelyn’s feels like a neighbourhood restaurant in an imaginary village called Xanaxdale, but actually exists less than 20 minutes by train from central London, makes this place very popular in the evening. So whether it’s for a grown-up birthday dinner or a candlelit date, you should book ahead. But we’re sure you can manage that. You are a Londoner after all.
Sounds distinctly like Imperial Leather’s final frontier of shower gel ingredients. Tastes great. This is a classic glass of white wine, sitting in the sunshine, kind of starter.
Anyone who says that a ‘caesar salad is a caesar salad’ has clearly never seen the things we’ve seen. They should count themselves lucky. This one keeps things simple, and is very decent.
We don’t want to call this bland - because, you know, now that we’ve experienced some nature (a tree and one bird’s nest), we’re nice people. But, realistically, this pesto pasta dish is a little bland and there are better options here.
The colour of this dish is a slightly alarming shade of Shrek, but that really shouldn’t put you off. This is very refreshing plate of food.
Fresh seasonal fish is something that Llewelyn’s do very well. Deboning this will teach you patience, and the chips will teach you respect for the common potato. We’ll stop before we start sounding like a farmer’s take on Ariana Grande’s Thank You Next. Just get involved.
Pretty much as soon as you see this massive oven-proof dish coming your way, you know that this lasagne is not fucking about. It’s a touch salty, but this is still a big old, cheesy hug of a dish. Plus, although it’s £29, it could probably feed a family of four.
Here are two top tips for living right in London. One - develop a memory palace of the best pubs with the cheapest pints in central London. Two - know that this mousse-ey structure masquerading as a cake is truly excellent, and only 19 minutes on the train from Victoria.
Firm yes to this. It’s like a very light, very smooth panna cotta, and it comes with its own pool of tangy raspberry puree. Don’t bother sharing it, just order your own.