The gastronomic offerings of London are ever-expanding. Cuisines from around the globe abound in the city; it’s not without reason that it has recently been lauded as the culinary capital of the world. These five eateries, all within walking distance of the Courtauld, offer an enticing cross-section of London’s endless food scene.
I Love Nata
61 Endell Street, Covent Garden / ilovenata.co.uk
Pastéis de Nata are the flaky, golden custard tarts described as ‘one of Portugal’s great culinary gifts to the world’, and, luckily for us, also the raison d'être of this tiny café on the edge of Covent Garden. You’ll soon become addicted to the warm pastries just a short walk from the Courtauld, ideally situated on the way to (and back from) Senate House.
Fernandez and Wells
Somerset House / fernandezandwells.com
Branches of this relaxed but stylish café chain dot London, but why eat anywhere else than in the glory of our own Somerset House? The Courtauld’s next-door neighbour, vaguely Mediterranean in inspiration, welcomes you at any time of day. Roll in for breakfast or lunch, or allow a late-afternoon snack to slowly transition into an early-evening glass of wine. Well-sourced ingredients, from the wonderful sourdough to coffee and wine, lend themselves to consumption alfresco. Listen to the fountains and admire Chambers’ architecture as you eat.
53 Lexington Street, Soho / baolondon.com
Brave the queue for this tiny restaurant. Tucking the street food of Taipei into the heart of Soho via an original pop-up in trendy London Fields - it is truly worth the wait. Such inventive quirks as pig-blood cake and trotter nugget feature on the xiao chi (small eats) section of the menu, but the stars of the show are the eponymous bao themselves: pillow-soft steamed buns available with six delectable fillings. The classic braised pork with coriander is a winner.
6 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden / polpo.co.uk
Modelled on a Venetian bàcari, Polpo seems to aspire to that city’s faded elegance, and manages an air of authenticity. Serving up cicheti (frequently described as Italy’s answer to tapas), the casual vibe and small portion sizes implore sharing. The pizzettes and meatballs, accompanied by fresh salads, marry well with the offerings of the extensive wine list, and the desserts don’t disappoint. The classic affogato, a scoop of vanilla ice cream which you can drown in an espresso shot, is just one of the sweet treats on offer.
Lancaster Place, Strand / springrestaurant.co.uk
Located in the high-ceilinged splendour of the New Wing of Somerset House, Michelin Star-winning Skye Gyngell’s Spring offers fine dining just seconds from the Courtauld. Food is simple but elegant, the room serene. This of course comes at a price, but a very reasonable one if you book for the pre-theatre Scratch menu, available from 17:30 to 18:30 daily. Utilising often overlooked ingredients such as misshapen vegetables and yesterday’s kitchen leftovers, the chefs will prepare three courses for £20.00, making Spring ideal for a special occasion.