Whether its chasing dogs called Fenton around Richmond Park; trekking the tourist trail from Buckingham Palace to the House of Parliament and Big Ben via St James Park; or learning about Britain’s formidable naval history at the National Maritime Museum, London’s parks, commons, heaths and downs are the city’s lungs; life-affirming green spaces. This guide to the best pubs and restaurants in, or, or next to London’s top green land will give you plenty of inspiration for alfresco drinking, dining, and post stroll relaxation.
Sixteen Seconds West Brasserie
Greenwich / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
Greenwich Park - this National Maritime Museum restaurant is just a short stroll down the hill from the Greenwich Meridian Line and Royal Observatory, and only a few minutes from the Naval College and the Cutty Sark. 16 Seconds West is, therefore, a great restaurant to book if you're thinking of a one-day visit to London's major sites. The contemporary British menu puts sustainability and provenance at the forefront of its quality, using many herbs, roots, edible flowers and seeds to maintain healthy standards. Afternoon tea is also available, as is a wine list that includes produces along the Prime Meridian line (we recommend the Chapel Down English sparkling wine).
The Lido Cafe
Brixton / Restaurant / Cuisine: European
Brockwell Park - Twinkling fairy lights hang around the Art Deco lido, an open water swimming pool gently ripples in the soft evening breeze coming in over Brockwell Park, a refreshing glass of Greenwich Meantime London Pale Ale sets an evening tone, and the Mediterranean-British menu - using seasonal British ingredients, locally sourced from small producers and farmers - completes this picturesque scenario on the sun-doused al fresco terrace. And the famous brunches - free-range full English and ethically sourced bean roasted coffee - are a whole different story.
Petersham Nurseries Cafe
Richmond & Kew / Restaurant / Cuisine: Modern Eclectic
Richmond Park and Petersham Meadows - There aren't many restaurants and pubs in London that are close to the River Thames and live deer, and sell plants and foliage with which you can decorate your home and garden. Dotted with antique tables and housed inside a glasshouse (home to said plants), this cafe and tea house is also the holder of a Michelin star, serving a short lunch menu made up of 'good, clean and fair' produce, 6 days a week. If garden plants aren't your thing, the wildlife of Richmond Park just round the corner (or Petersham Meadows across the road) provides ample space to stretch your legs.
Serpentine Bar & Kitchen
Mayfair / Bar / Restaurant /
Hyde Park - Located at the edge of the Serpentine Lake so you can watch your nearest and dearest wrestle with the pedalos on the water (give them a wave), this iconic light-filled bar and restaurant (pictured above) has a breakfast-until-dinner dining menu that provides seasonal, healthy food. The wood-fired oven does the cooking and the sunshine-drenched alfresco terrace marries well with the occasional Gin Bus parked outside. Be warned, this restaurant does get busy; but then this is Hyde Park, possibly London's most popular green space. It's fun to watch the rollerbladers performing outside, and Kensington Palace and Marble Arch are only a few minutes walk away.
Clapham / Bar / Hotel / Cuisine: Pub
Clapham Common - During the summer months, The Windmill on the Common (originally built in 1665) provides a focal point for picnic loungers in need of toilet facilities. Chances are those same picnic peeps will end up staying at the pub at some point in the day though, lured in by the promise of alfresco picnic bench drinking, the outdoor bar and kitchen, the best of British food from the restaurant indoors, the stylish decor including light-giving skylight, and maybe, depending on who they end up making friends with, the use of one of the pub's 29 en-suite hotel rooms. With this many young, sexy, beautiful people in one place, those chances are high.
The Brew House
Hampstead / Restaurant / Cuisine: Eclectic
Hampstead Heath - the stately neo-classical Kenwood House on the north edge of London's Hampstead Heath is keeper of much fine art created by artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner and Gainsborough, so lovers of history, architecture, and art will enjoy a pilgrimage to the Heath. Take a break at The Brew House for a hot lunch or salad (or even breakfast if you're early enough) followed by a yummy cake or ice cream, a discussion about what you've already seen, before heading off to get lost in the woods. The Brew House is but a few minutes walk from the Kenwood open air theatre, the Parliament Hill views across London, the swimming ponds and the lido too.
The Garden Cafe
Marylebone / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
Regent's Park - set amongst the beautiful gardens of the park's Inner Circle, close to the boating lake, open air theatre, and sports pitches, this architecturally rejuvenated cafe is squarely aimed at the amblers of London. Starting with breakfast (served from 9am, including a vegetarian option), it serves teas, coffees and lunch through the day, ending with early dinners which include British ingredients such as the line caught Cornish mackerel with leeks and clam vinaigrette, or Scottish rope-grown mussels with saffron, tomato & caper sauce. Beers, ciders, aperitifs and a concise wine list (glass and bottle formats) are also available to help take the edge of an already edgeless day.
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