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Grace Dent’s Hidden London

Publisher - Great British Food Awards
published by

Great British Food

Oct 04, 2017
6 minutes to read
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Don’t let the cold weather put you off eating outdoors! Outspoken food critic Grace Dent knows just the terraces for a warming cup of coffee and a glass of wine in London, starting with these neighbourhood gems… 

“Every time I try to leave London due to its traffic, overcrowded tubes and the cost of living, I last eight days outside of the M25 before rushing back needing my dinner,” Grace admits. But what is it exactly that continues to draw her back? “Right now, northern Thai small plates, modern spins on authentic Mexican food, Sri Lankan dosas and Neapolitan pizzas are really creating a buzz. London’s food scene is dizzying  but never, ever dull!”

Some of  Grace Dent’s top al fresco spots:

Rochelle Canteen

This is Margot Henderson’s tiny slice  of tranquility in E2. To be honest, you’re honoured I’ve even told you about this place; I try to keep it under my hat! Hidden behind a wall, it boasts a beautifully kept garden  and a pretty, functional kitchen. Head there early for eggs, coffee and silence.

J Sheekey’s Terrace

J Sheekey is in the heart of theatre land. Go for a negroni blanc and the strong possibility of seeing the cast of Cats: The Musical striding past in leggings. There’s squid tempura, Goan curry mussels, salmon sashimi and two dozen coastal wines by the glass on the terrace menu. Perfect.

Victoria Park’s Pavilion Café

This pavilion is home to London’s best sausage sandwich (almost too much peppery sausage on grilled, buttery ciabatta). It feels impossible to get in and out of the park without heading here; the pastries, sandwiches and cakes are simply too good. You’ll be completely surrounded by hip young things, nannies, toddlers, dogs and people in leotards, but it’s all part of the charm.

Hand Cafe, E20

Deep in the heart of the now residential former Olympic Village you’ll find Square Mile coffee and pastries as well as salads and soups of Greek persuasion. The outside tables allow you to have a good people-watch at the newly forming London community springing to life.

The Yard Arm, Leyton

The Yard Arm on Francis Road in rapidly gentrifying Leyton has a wonderful wine shop and deli and a gorgeous open air terrace. Owners Eliza and Dan are the perfect hosts. Come for a glass of Weizen beer and to feel the sun on your face; leave with an armful of locally made sourdough.

The Gun, Docklands

Yes, it can get mobbed on highdays and holidays, but The Gun is an iconic suntrap for a reason. It has reasonably priced comfort food, pretty views of the Thames and is the sort of place you can take anyone from your grandma who hates London, to your rowdy brother who wants real ale, through to aloof cool types. I’ve seen several lovely weddings there, too.

Grace Dent is the curator of London Food Month. Find out more at

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