Springtime in Notting Hill (& Ottolenghi)

This was supposed to be my Easter post, but honestly it’s taken such a long time to get myself in gear that Easter feels like it was about a million years ago.

In one of my most shameful moments yet, I was basically too hungover to go home, so Matthew and I found ourselves with a sunny Easter Sunday on our hands. After swapping Easter eggs and enjoying pancakes for breakfast, we headed off to pastures unknown, i.e, West London. It’s been over 2 years since I last visited Notting Hill, so that was the destination of choice and it was looking suitably fresh and Spring-like.

I was particularly excited to spy George Orwell’s house…

And of course, Portobello Road was its usual treasure trove of trinkets & tacky tourist shops, which are one of my guiltiest pleasures in life.

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We had watched Paddington the night before (told ya we were hungover) so I was also VERY excited to come across what I assume is the antiques shop they used in the film.

Just as our stomachs started grumbling, we chanced upon Ottolenghi, which has been loitering on my to-visit list for months now. I couldn’t resist dragging M inside for a look.

How could anyone resist those salads?! As luck would have it, two spots were just coming free at the one, communal style table, so Matthew and I staked our claim and splashed out on main dish + 3 salads each.

I went for salmon, with slaw, broccoli, and some new potatoes that I am still dreaming about 2 weeks later. Seriously, they were so good.

And Matthew went for panko-crusted seared tuna, green beans, sweet potato, and a cauliflower dish.

Quite difficult to photograph (not to mention awkward on a communal table), but you can get the gist of all those colours and all that freshness. I love that Ottolenghi is so different from other lunch spots and I love the concept – just wished we lived closer to one!

After a few days of excess, it was SO nice to get some goodness inside us and it all tasted so delicious. It wasn’t ridiculously pricey, either, and we both felt it was a very virtuous kind of Easter lunch – we even managed to pass up on dessert! (Although next time I’m in the area I will definitely be back to rectify that.)

As you read this I’m off in Copenhagen for a snazzy long weekend, so I’m sure I will have lots more posts to share then and in the meantime – what’s your favourite Notting Hill spot?

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Brunch @ Electric Diner, Notting Hill

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We awoke bright and early on New Years Day, and to celebrate the gorgeous sunshine and the first day of a brand new year, we decided to indulge in one of my very favourite activities: brunch.

I had had my eye on the Electric Diner on Portobello Road for quite some time, and so when I realised that our morning wanderings had led us within 200 yards, I was only too keen to drag my companions inside. It’s attached to the similarly-named Electric Cinema and I imagine it’s fairly easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, but the place, of course, was packed, and the hostess told us it would be a 30 – 45 minute wait. Not to worry – she took my phone number, and we headed off back into the sunshine for some more wandering. As it happened, this was either a stroke of luck or proof that there is a God, because we spontaneously decided to buy a scratchcard in the local Tesco Metro (my first scratchcard ever, I might add) – and won £100 on it. Not a bad start to 2013, right?

So with our winnings burning a hole in our pocket and my phone ringing to tell me that our table was (almost) ready, we headed back to the Diner. The restaurant is deceptively large – its low ceilings and all those people made it look small, but we were led to a large and comfortable booth right at the back of the restaurant. We’d missed the breakfast menu, but the all-day menu more than catered for our needs: they have a dedicated “eggs” section and they serve English breakfast all day.

the diner from the door

To get things started, we ordered tea and orange juice and we were very pleased to see that the tea is real tea leaves and comes complete with a little strainer. My happiness only increased when the orange juice arrived: it was amongst the freshest I have seen, and was so pulpy that it was accompanied by a tiny spoon.

tea and orange juice

Foodwise, we had all opted for the English breakfast (£11), which comes with bacon, sausage, toast, tomato, mushroom, and eggs-the-way-you-like-them. Since we were accompanied by the human equivalent of a dustbin, we also ordered sides of hash browns and extra bacon, which alarmed the waiter somewhat.

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Notice how I couldn’t resist taking a bite out of the sausage before I took the picture? It looked that good. The bacon, though, was by far my favourite part: incredibly thick and just slightly sweet. I was very glad we had the extra servings! The hash browns were also delicious – definitely not healthy, but delicious. All that grease was exactly what we wanted that morning.

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Altogether with service included, it came to £60 for the three of us, which I was quite happy to pay given the size of the feast – and, honestly, just for that bacon and that orange juice. I think this may have been one of my favourite brunch spots I’ve ever visited, if only for the atmosphere. The waiters were all very friendly and very laidback; there was no rush for anything at all, which suited us perfectly. There was also a great mix of families with tiny kids and people who had clearly only just emerged from heavy New Years celebrations, all of which added up for a fun, buzzy atmosphere that made us all feel right at home.

I am desperate to try the honey fried chicken, and I’ve still got my eye on that breakfast menu (which is served until 12, I believe, so there’s plenty of time to catch it!). There is also a donut kiosk attached and a short but intriguing cocktail menu that I am desperate to try (the English student in me is drawn to the Hemingway Daiquri in particular), so don’t you worry, Electric Diner – I’ll be back!