If you’re not looking for a proper sit-down meal, or would prefer some quick and easy on the pocket, why not try one of the superb cafes in the area?
One of the nicest cafes in the area is the Holland Park Café (inside Illchester Place, W8), one minute from the youth hostel. The Evening Standard once declared this place as the park cafe with the best atmosphere in London. It is highly recommended, particularly in good weather, as it’s very pleasant to sit in the cafe’s outdoor seating area and watch people (and their dogs!) go by, enjoying the park. Hot drinks start from £1.45; there’s also sandwiches, paninis, salad boxes and home-made cakes and pastries.
The Troubadour (265 Old Brompton Road, SW5) is one of the original coffee houses in London, having opened in 1954. My father swears by it and it was almost like his second home back in the 1960s! The Troubadour is also very famous because of its downstairs club, which has live music most evenings and in the past has seen such greats as Bob Dylan (making his first London appearance), Jimi Hendrix and Paul Simon play. These days, the Troubadour has expanded quite a bit – there’s Troubadour Wines next to the main premises, with its own wine bar; a spacious room for hire (that also holds yoga classes an the like); and a serviced apartment. But it’s the main part of the Troubadour that’s the real draw, with it’s cosy, but unique interior (what wonderful decor!), it’s perfect for a coffee stop, a bite to eat or an quiet glass of wine in the evening. There’s a wide variety of the items on the menu – from breakfasts to sandwiches, burgers, sharing platters to salads – so you’re sure to find something that fits the bill whatever mood you’re in, food-wise.
Chelsea Farmers’ Market (125 Sydney Street, SW3 – off King’s Road) has several restaurant and cafe places which charge reasonable prices.
Café Consort (Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP – Door 12 – Grand Tier Level) is a contemporary cafe situated in the beautiful Royal Albert Hall and now open 8.30am to 9pm daily. The cafe serves up a delicious menu including breakfasts (til 11.30am only), sandwiches, mains, desserts and drinks. The cafe regularly hosts live music at Friday lunchtimes and Sundays.
Caffe Concerto has some great, bright and airy new premises at 84 Kensington High Street, W8. Be sure to try one of the sumptious cakes or pastries.
For amazing homemade cakes, salads, sandwiches and other snacks, you must make your way to Ottolenghi (at 1 Holland Street, W8 4NA and 63 Ledbury Road, W11 2AD). If you take a look at their shop window as you walk by, you won’t be able to resist going in!
Fait Maison has a couple of branches in Kensington, plus one in Shepherd’s Bush and one in Ravenscourt Park. We particularly like the one at 3 Stratford Road, W8 6RQ with its cosy seated area at the back of the premises. As well as the usual coffees, teas and juices on offer, there’s a particularly fine selection of cakes and pastries as well as assorted larger dishes for something slightly more filling.
There are also countless Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Coffee Republic, Cafe Nero dotted around the whole borough if you need your coffee fix. These places generally also serve pastries and snacks.