In my line of work I have the privilege of discovering some of the best places to source food of all sorts of weird and wonderful varieties in London and here I will share them with you as I find, try and test them. If you know of any others, I’d love to know about them too.
Steve Hatt – arguably the best fishmongers in London, on the Essex Road in Angel. They go to market every morning, so if you need 10 live crabs, a monkfish and a squid, they’ll get you them. I’ve never had a bad piece of fish from them and the service is always impeccable, super friendly – a proper London fishmongers with plenty of banter. If you don’t have the energy to get up at 5am to go to Billingsgate, this is your next best place for fresh fish.
Applebee’s is also a great fishmongers, based in Borough Market. It’s a bit pricier than Steve Hatt and doesn’t seem to have as wide a selection of fish. The service can be on the slightly colder side, but the fish quality is extremely high. They also have a fish restaurant on site.
James Knight of Mayfair sell reliable and good quality fish. They have two outlets, one in Selfridges and one in Notting Hill, I’ve used them less than Steve Hatt and Applebee’s, but have never been disappointed.
Moxon’s have three shops; Clapham South, South Kensington and East Dulwich. I haven’t been to the South Kensington branch, but I have used the other two and they are great. Brilliant fish, happy to order in anything you need and friendly service.
Atari-ya is a tiny, yet brilliant, shop in West Acton where you can get all the sashimi grade fish you could ask for. Well worth the trip if you’re not local and they prepare the fish ready for you to roll your own sushi or serve sashimi. All you need to do is give them a call and tell them what you’re after. They’re incredibly friendly and very helpful to the novice sushi maker. If you’re less inclined to make it yourself, I think they’ll do that for you too.
The Rice Wine Shop, no.82 Brewer Street, just north of Piccadilly Circus. For all things Japanese, the website is only really useful if you can read Japanese – but all the produce is authentic and it’s incredibly good value.
Newington Green Fruit and Vegetables (on Newington Green Road) is my favourite greengrocer in London. It’s incredibly good value and everything is always super fresh and tasty. There’s a huge variety of produce for such a small shop and the display always look very enticing. You may walk out with more than you originally intended, but it’s fine as you’ll have paid less than anywhere else.
Panzers in St John’s Wood is a deli with a difference – they proudly state on their website that they are “always offering fruit and vegetables out of season”, not exactly in keeping with the current seasonality trend – but extremely useful if you’re shooting food / writing recipes for a magazine that’s going to be published in a few months time… The staff are usually very helpful and will find anything they can at market for you. The quality is high, but unfortunately so are the prices.
Greensmiths has just proved itself to me as having a wonderful greengrocer. Greensmiths is a great place anyway – under one roof they have a Ginger Pig butcher, bread from The Old Post Office Bakery, delicious wines, cheeses and coffee and most relevantly here beautiful fruit and veg from Solstice. It’s all super fresh and delicious and they seem happy to order in those harder things to find.
The Creaky Shed, if you don’t already love it for its name you’ll quickly fall for the produce. Beautifully displayed, all in season, organic and local – they certainly tick all the boxes. It’s based in Greenwich on Royal Hill, so perhaps a little out of the way. But if you fancied a boat trip down the river and a picnic in the park this would be your perfect place to pick up some strawberries or one of their freshly pressed juices or even a chutney for your sandwich…
La Fromagerie is a truly special place. I’ve only been to the Marylebone High Street shop (the original one is in Highbury) and it’s great. They have a big refrigerated cheese room and the number of people allowed in at any one time is limited to help regulate the temperature. They are super helpful and can advise on all sorts of cheesy enquiries – I had to make a birthday cake for someone once involving layer upon layer of cheeses, biscuits, chutneys, radishes and they helped me in finding the perfect combination. They have a huge range of wonderful cheese – also of note is a beautiful selection of fruit and veg as you enter the shop.
Neals Yard Dairy is the place to go for all the British cheese you could ask for. I had some Colston Bassett Stilton and some Montgommery Cheddar from their Borough shop last week and I’m hungry at the thought of it. As the name suggests, they also sell proper milk, cream, creme fraiche, etc.
La Cave a Fromage based just by South Kensington station is a great cheese shop, focusing mainly on French and British produce. The staff are super friendly and helpful and it’s hard not to walk out with more cheese than intended.
There are so many wonderful butchers in London and the one I use really depends on the area I’m working in. These are my favourites and all supply excellent meats:
The Gingerpig at Greensmiths in Waterloo or Borough, Jack O’Shea in Selfridges, Wyndham House on the Fulham Road, Frank Godfrey in Highbury and Islington, Lidgates on Holland Park Road and Moens in Clapham. I have also heard wonderful things about Allens of Mayfair, but haven’t yet managed to get there.
When I first moved to London I lived very near Edgware Road and found great delight in the wonderful Green Valley. It has since come in handy when sourcing any hard to find Middle Eastern ingredients, such as pomegranate molasses, good tahini or amazing flat breads. They have a brilliant counter for takeaway food including tabouleh, humus, koftas and all that deliciousness. They also have a pretty exotic fruit and veg selection. But most striking are their sweet treats which really have to be seen to be believed.
This is slightly stating the obvious, but the best Indian stores I know about are on Brick Lane. There are two that I use mainly and they are Taj Stores and Bangla City. Amazing mangoes, tamarind pastes and more spices, rices and pulses than I know what to do with. To get near the true taste of Indian cuisine, these are very good places to start.
The Flour Station is a great place to get incredibly good bread – they use traditional methods of baking and allow for a long fermentation which means tastier bigger flavours. It all started in Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, but you can now buy it all over London – I normally use the one in Borough, but have a look at their website as they’re all over the place. I’ve currently got some delicious Rye Pumpernickel in my bread bin.
Konditor and Cook – I feel a little spoilt (or in danger) to have one of these shops agonisingly close to my doorstep. The cakes are good. The bread is good. The sandwiches are good. The coffee is good. The brownies are incredible. I’m pretty much walking out the door as I type.
Jane Asher – not quite a bakery, but they sell everything and anything you might need for a bit of cake action. From amazing icings, to piping nozzles, to tins, to cake stands and knives.