Despite the recent reopening of restaurants all over the city, I have noticed a lingering feeling of worry from friends and foodies about venturing out to eat. I have been eating in restaurants inside and out, but can’t deny that the al fresco options feel safer. While the weather is still warm it seems the only sensible solution is outdoor dining, so I have collated a list of some of my favourite options for you to enjoy this unique summer season.
Joy at Portobello is a new pop-up that occupies the space that was once home to Stevie Parle’s Dock Kitchen. This popular chef (behind hits such as Craft, Palatino and Pastaio) has returned to his original Portobello Dock site to bring us a joyful venue of food, flowers and fabulous produce (to buy from Canterbury’s Good Shed). The al fresco terrace overlooks the canal and diners sit amongst colourful wild dahlias, that were intended for this year’s cancelled Hampton Court Flower Show. We feasted on fresh and simple seasonal delights, favourites included grilled lobster with nduja, watermelon and feta salad, and a floral eton mess for dessert.
This Borough Market favourite has pivoted from a cosy dinner venue to an outdoor pizza and soft serve success. Borough Market has taken on a new persona; without the constant crowds, keen foodies gather at the sheltered outdoor tables (ideal even in the rain) and scoff the ASAP sourdough pizza. Choose from perfectly executed small plates (I loved the extra rich burrata, datterini & panzanella) and then opt for a red or white (based) pizza from the list. Our favourite was the ‘Getting Friggi With It’ – tomato sauce, mangalitsa sausage, friggitelli peppers, onion, but I also recommend the flavoursome ‘Thanks Shallot’ featuring grilled spring onions, mozzarella, ricotta, green garlic, wild marjoram. The soft serve is unmissable… flavours change weekly, we were lucky to catch the utterly delicious Fig Leaf with coconut. ASAP Pizza is also available to order on Deliveroo.
Another Borough Market institution, Elliott’s is a much loved restaurant, bar and natural wine shop. They have transformed their dining room and now occupy a large covered space in the market area. The summer menu utilises great seasonal produce from the market with appetising small plates, creative pizzas and grilled meat options. Pair your meal with a summery aperol spritz or glass of natural wine.
Tomos Parry won every accolade when he opened his Basque-influenced restaurant Brat a few years ago in Shoreditch. So it’s hardly surprising to see his pop-up version of the eatery at Climpsons Arch also booked up to the brim every night. This sociable space lends itself perfectly to this style of cooking and the fragrant smells of grilled fish fill the air as you sit down in the outdoor dining area. You’ll find all the Brat favourites here, from anchovy toast to whole grilled turbot, smoked butter potatoes to burnt Basque cheesecake. If you can nab a table I highly recommend visiting before the summer is out.
My South London favourite, Llewelyn’s, is another brilliant option for al fresco dining this summer. Their terrace has been extended in the Herne Hill square so there are now plenty of tables for hungry diners. This eatery feels particularly lovely at lunchtime when the buzzy atmosphere of the neighbourhood adds ambience and charm to the Llewelyn’s experience. The menu of smart comfort food changes regularly, so there is always something to satisfy everyone.
If you find yourself needing a venue in central London for celebrating a special occasion I implore you to book the Berkeley. A magical terrace at one of London’s most prestigious hotels, this sparkly pop-up restaurant is wowing guests with their immaculate service and comforting dishes. Refreshing cocktails and vibrant dishes will transport you to a Mediterranean island, so even if you can’t fly away on holiday you’ll feel a million miles from home in their lantern-lit garden.