We celebrate our homegrown food & drink heroes in this rich patch of London, starting with Jessica Elphinstone’s guide to the best summer pubs & bars…
Aside from the obvious, the presence of Great British pub on every corner, when elsewhere in the country they seem to be floundering, is one of the best things about living in south-west London.
August is the month to slope off to a sunny pub garden on a Friday afternoon, and my favourite new discovery (other than The Fox and Pheasant, qv) is the secluded little Scarsdale Tarvern just near Abingdon Villas in Kensington. They have real ales, a lovely food menu, and a cosy little terrace with candle light and blankets for cooler evenings.
Scarsdale Tavern, 23a Edwardes Square, London, W8 6HE. Visit www.scarsdaletavern.co.uk
The Atlas in Fulham is a perennial favourite in our flat for a cheeky weekday drink, with a great leafy terrace area and a weekly changing G&T menu. www.theatlaspub.co.uk 16 Seagrave Rd, Fulham, SW6 1RX.
The Mitre is also a popular Fulham spot, but fiendishly expensive for a pub, with an Aperol Spritz costing in excess of £10. www.themitresw6.com 81 Dawes Rd, Fulham, SW6 7DU
The Duke’s Head in Putney also has loads going on, with comedy nights, quizzes and films keeping local residents endlessly entertained. The boathouse-style pub and restaurant is right on the river with plenty of outdoor seating. 8 Lower Richmond Rd, Putney, SW15 1JN; www.dukesheadputney.com
The Churchill Arms in Kensington Church Street is another iconic drinking spot, with every outside wall laden with a ridiculous amount of flowers, and every inside space crammed with Churchill memorabilia. Apparently, they spend £25,000 on the flowers which bedeck the pub. Built in 1750, the pub was apparently frequented by Churchill’s grandparents, hence the name. It’s a truly eccentric spot, made even more random by the fact this historic boozer serves authentic Thai cuisine. Look out for a hilariously fake blue plaque, which says “Churchill made his wartime broadcasts here, and laughed at Hitler’s watercolours while drinking banana daiquiris and farting.” 119 Kensington Church Street, Kensington, W8 7LN. (nearest station Notting Hill Gate); www.churchillarmskensington.co.uk
Another gem is the Anglesea Arms near Ravenscourt Park, always rammed on balmy August afternoons young professionals and old crooners alike. If you make it inside, look out for their Long Brick Wall, where they have regular exhibitions of work from local artists and photographers. The Anglesea Arms, 35 Wingate Road, Hammersmith, W6 0UR; www.angleseaarmspub.co.uk
My mum and dad met each other in the Admiral Codrington over 30 years ago, so I thought I should probably pay it a visit when doing some ‘research’ for this foodie special. It might not be as booming as it was in the 1980s, but nostalgia aside, it’s actually a pretty acceptable pub. They serve some pretty good food, a nice range of beer, and even cocktails, but make sure to come on a rainy day as there’s no outdoor terrace. This summer, kids get a free main and pudding from the children’s menu, making it a great stop-off if you’re taking the family to the nearby Natural History Museum or Science Museum. The Admiral Codrington, 17 Mossop Street, SW3 2LY; www.theadmiralcodrington.co.uk
The Little Blue Door in Fulham is one of our favourite party spots, with the unique concept of your coolest and most bohemian friends throwing an epic house party in their weird and wacky home, every night of the week. This summer, the late-night cocktail bar and restaurant have launched a gin terrace with William Grant & Sons, bringing a new cocktail menu and outdoor garden to party the night away. In the style of the eclectic flatshare, they’ve created a great little garden draped with lights, foliage and hanging plants; the perfect alfresco drinking spot. Sports will be played on the big screen, and for anyone who missed out on the ‘frosé’ (that’s frozen rosé) craze last summer, this place is still serving it in 2019. The Little Blue Door, 871-873, Fulham Rd, Fulham, SW6 5HP; www.thelittlebluedoor.co.uk
FUN IN A BUN
Let them eat cake..! Or in the case of Bread Ahead, Matthew Jones’ hugely popular London bakeries, let them eat copious amounts of sticky, delicious cinnamon buns…
One of our favourite pit-stops in London, anyone with a penchant for outstanding freshly baked goods will probably be familiar with Bread Ahead.
Famous for their weird and wacky doughnuts, Bread Ahead has been at the forefront of London’s love affair with bakeries over the last five years. Forget mass-produced supermarket fare; once you’ve tried their artisanal hot cross buns you’ll never look back.
If you fancy having a go in the kitchen yourself, their Bakery School in Borough Market is one of the best out there. It launched in 2014, with the simple aim of showing people how easy it is to create really great bread at home. The perfect gift or quirky date activity, guests can spend a full day in the kitchen with one of the Bread Ahead Master Bakers, with courses ranging from New York baking days (think bagels and bialys) to pizza workshops to doughnut-making and gluten-free workshops. You’ll leave with a belly full of your creations (they serve you a lovely lunch as well) and more pastries than you know what to do with, so make sure to invite friends round!
For those who really wish to take it to the next level, there’s a three-day Guide to Sourdough Bread, in which you’ll learn everything you need to know about wild yeast baking, and will create rye loaves, focaccia, brown levain, fougasse and croissants, to name a few.
Courses from £90. Find Bread Ahead bakery closer to home at 249 Pavilion Rd, Chelsea, SW1X 0BP. Visit www.breadahead.com
Ed Taylor and Robyn Simms, the bionic couple behind London-based soft drinks company Square Root tell us about their journey.
We started Square Root Soda from our kitchen in 2012 selling ginger beer at a local farmers market. Soon we were producing new flavours every week and blown away by the demand for our soda, so in 2013 we founded the Square Root Soda Works with the aim of creating innovative new drinks, made with as much effort as quality alcoholic drinks. A Square Root is a soda made for the love of fruit, for the excitement of the experimental and for the pursuit of the exceptional.
Q. What are your backgrounds?
Ed and I met during our time at UCL where we were both studying for science degrees. After leaving Ed went to work in brewing for Redemption Brewery and later Howling Hops and I went to work in the craft beer bar The Euston Tap, this is definitely where the love of all things drinks started.
Q. What about the ingredients you use?
At Square Root, natural ingredients are non-negotiable. This means we work closely with amazing farmers across the UK, Italy & Spain to get the very best fresh ingredients for our drinks – like rhubarb grown just for us in the Yorkshire Triangle, blood oranges grown in the shadow of Mount Etna in Sicily and elderflower foraged from Hackney and Walthamstow Marshes. Lots of our drinks are seasonal, meaning we only make the soda when the fruit is available from the growers so there’s always something new and different for you to try.
Q. What inspired you to create your non-alcoholic G&T?
This one is born from a desire to create a robust, grown-up, alternative to other non-alcoholic drinks on the market. We spent 12 months developing our non-alcoholic gin & tonic, which included months of public trials, to try and hone the perfect flavour. The pure ‘gin’ distillate is extracted and blended with our house tonic water, which contains natural British beet sugar, fresh Sicilian lemon juice, juiced on site, lemon rind (so nothing is wasted) and natural quinine. We think it’s very different from anything else out there, with more depth of flavour and less sugar. It’s popular with drinkers and non-drinkers alike.
Q. London has such an exciting food and drinks scene at the moment. How is it to be part of this foodie revolution in the city?
It’s totally amazing, of course. It’s so special to be surrounded by so many other passionate, engaged and exciting people and I don’t think we would have started Square Root if it weren’t for some of the early crowd doing what they’re doing and making it seem less scary to get out there and start my own thing.
Q. Which other restaurants, brands or products really inspire you?
I’ve always been a massive fan of London Borough of Jam; Lillie does such an amazing job of seasonally making jams and capturing the delicious fruit flavour of whatever fruits are around and I always find myself challenged to work out how to capture that in our drinks. I’m also really into all the small kombucha brands on the market at the moment. Since I gave up drinking alcohol in 2018 I find them a great alternative if I’m lusting after a cold glass of wine. I also like pairing them with our rhubarb soda.
Square Root has launched a new Sonata variety strawberry soda to celebrate the quintessentially British fruit at the height of summer. Buy it in Fulham at Gails Bakery, The Hoarder at West Brompton Crossing, and Bailey & Sage, among other places.
Make at Home Strawberry Soda
My absolute favourite thing about summer is the delicious British produce that’s available – it’s part of what inspired us to make a seasonal range of drinks at Square Root, with flavours which change as fruit naturally comes in and out of season.
The first sign that summer is here is British strawberries on the shelves in the shops. Picked riper than the ones that come over from across the globe, British Strawberries usually have a sweeter, more juicy taste. Give this Strawberry Soda recipe a try and see how it measures up to the one we make at Square Root, which you can pick up here.
For one litre of soda you need:
• 300g fresh strawberries, washed and stalks removed.
• 1 large lemon
• 50g caster sugar
• Half teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract
• Bottle of soda water
Reserve a few strawberries for serving. Quickly blend the rest of the strawberries in a food processor using the blade attachment to break them down.
In batches, add the strawberry pulp to a fine mesh sieve placed over a bowl and press through the liquid into the bowl below. Repeat until you’ve squeezed the juice out of all the strawberry pulp, you should have about 150ml of liquid.
Next, squeeze your half lemon over the sieve to remove any pips and combine the lemon and strawberry juices.
Add the caster sugar and vanilla extract into the bowl. Stir the liquid until the sugar is fully dissolved – you may need to add a touch of water here to help dissolve the sugar but don’t add too much. Once this is done, you have your cordial. You can refrigerate until you’re ready to serve*.
Pour the cordial into a one litre jug or pitcher.
Add ice and fresh lemon and strawberry slices from your reserved fruit and spare half lemon.
Gently pour in the soda water to fill the jug and give the soda a gentle stir, then serve, being carefully not to release too much carbonation from the water.
You’re all done! Try freezing fresh strawberries to make fruity ice cubes if you like and drink up while your fizz is perfectly chilled. Perfecto!
Mix It Up: Replace the lemon juice with the juice of a whole lime for some extra zing!
*If you want to make the cordial in advance pour it into a cleaned, sealable container. It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.