New Tom’s & Westbourne Grove Shopping – Notting Hill
There are few London shopping streets more lovely than Westbourne Grove in the heart of Notting Hill. While, especially on a weekend just before Christmas, it’s buzzing with people laden with beautifully branded shopping bags, it is miles away from the heaving, horrifying nightmare that is Oxford Street. Westbourne Grove is sophisticated, atmospheric, colourful and – most importantly – a place which makes Christmas shopping a pleasure.
If you do choose to do your shopping on this street, fuel up at New Tom’s. It’s small and busy, and while this means you’ll often have to queue, or put your name down on a waiting list (they don’t take bookings for brunch), we didn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes for a table. And there are plenty of distractions in the area to keep you entertained while waiting.
New Tom’s has recently replaced ‘Tom’s’ (or formally ‘Tom’s Deli’). The décor, which apparently used to be slightly more romantic and old fashioned, has been modernised, though they still have the charming booths at the back. December brings Christmas decorations, but New Tom’s clearly need to either invest more in theirs, or perhaps not attempt at decorating the café at all, as it all felt a little amateurish.
It was, as can only be expected on a Saturday morning, fairly hectic inside – with staff running around looking slightly harassed. The service was, therefore, a little on the slow side.
But this, for me, is where the criticism stops.
I ordered poached eggs, avocado and sour dough bread. Without exaggerating, this may have been the most delicious version of a fairly classic egg/avocado/bread dish. The eggs, with yolks a startlingly dark orange, were clearly so fresh and organic they may as well have been plucked from under a hen that morning. The addition of caramelised onions is one I am definitely going to try at home, the sweetness combining perfectly with the creamy avocado and the guacamole. Yes – lucky me – two variations of avocado on a plate, and one ideal for spreading on toast. It all worked so well. And was devoured within minutes.
Jo had already had breakfast, but her latte and her lemon poppy seed cake went down a treat. And the bill was perfectly reasonable for a Notting Hill brunch; the prices fairly similar to neighbouring cafes and restaurants. But beware, this is Notting Hill, so nothing’s cheap.
Another good brunch option on Westbourne Grove is 202 London. I spotted some rather beautiful looking people walk into which from the outside looks like a trendy clothing boutique. But then had a good look through the window and saw that there was in fact an elegant cafe behind the boutique. 202 London claims to bring ‘fashion, retail and modern eating’ together. The menu – especially the butterscotch pancakes – looked good too (the prices again quite reasonable). I’m heading here when I next hit Notting Hill for brunch, but I hear booking is essential as this is clearly where all the cool kids go.
Now, as for the retail therapy. Where to begin? There is no better time than a visit to Dalesford in December. It is simply the most beautiful delicatessen, offering incredible organic food and it works the Christmas theme so well. I bought some of their Sloe Gin, because I couldn’t resist. It’s a great shop for stocking fillers (they have wonderful scented candles), but also to buy the freshest, most delicious food and booze to enjoy over the festive period.
Those in search of a flower shop have also come to the right place. Wild at Heart is the prettiest flower stall you will find, and I especially loved their penguins. Too cute.
Another great place for – albeit rather expensive – stocking fillers, is Aesop. I have long been a fan of this Australian brand, which sells the most incredible products for your skin, hair and body. I love their traveller gift sets. And their lip balm is one many people swear by. It is also a beautiful shop and the shop assistant was incredibly helpful and knowledgable. It is a place where you can easily spend a bomb, simply because everything smells out of this world, so be careful.
If after all that shopping you get hungry again, then fear not, you’re in the right place. Head into Wolf & Badger (another pretty boutique, which supports independent fashion, jewellery and interior brands – so great for finding unique gifts) for a Raw Press cold-pressed juice to give you that health-kick. Or swing by Ottolenghi’s ever-popular cafe around the corner, with the most divine selection of cakes in the window (definitely going to get the polenta cake next time). The Christmas hamper there is mouth-watering too.
A very successful day!