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May 28, 2009 12:29 PM

Hampstead/Golders Green or Putney/Chiswick

Tomorrow(Friday) is my last day of freedom before I have to go back to earning a living.
Am considering a mini gastro tour in either of the above areas.
Can anyone recomend any interesting must eats?

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  1. Hampstead is a truly wonderful place but in regards to culinary delights -forget it ! seriously its awful .
    My question to chowhounds is why is this the case ?

    1 Reply
    1. re: millema

      I've wondered this too - maybe a case of more money than taste? The Cafe Rouge, for example, is always packed! If you're into chains, you're well catered for.

      That said, I have had very good meals at Meghna (Heath St) and The Stag (which is way down Fleet Road, closer to Belsize Park). I've heard Jin Kichi and Woodlands are worth a try, but can't vouch for either.

      There's always the creperie, if you don't die of boredom in the queue!

    2. Since Hampstead sounds so dreadful, maybe you should head for Golders Green. You won't starve there - that's for sure. Besides the usual deli, bagels etc., I remember there is some sort of Japanese restaurant that someone once wrote about. Sorry you have to return to the land of the workers, but be glad there is a job for you!

      2 Replies
        1. re: DollyDagger

          Thanks... that's the one. I see oonth mentions it further down the page.

      1. There is lots in West London. The Harwood Arms in fulham, the Princess Victoria, Sherperds Bush, to the heights of La Trompette in Chiswick.

        Andy Hayler on his blog has lots of W4 and W6 ideas - he lives in Chiswick so knows the area.

        3 Replies
        1. re: PhilD

          Thanks for the ideas and the link PhilD.
          Have found a pub in Fulham were a warm venison scotch egg is calling!

          1. re: Paprikaboy

            I think that is the definition of heaven, simply add a few pits of their beer and add a few more eggs. I am jealous.

            1. re: PhilD

              Thanks for the steer on the Harwood Arms in Fulham.
              The food was excellent especially the warm vensionscotch egg and the wood pigeon.
              It was so good I'm going back next week!
              A definite recommend.

        2. Re Hampstead, labelling the culinary options as awful is an exaggeration although it's fair to say that the general quality has never been commensurate with the affluence of the neighbourhood, I've heard numerous theories propounded over the years.

 - here's a post of mine from 1 year ago.

          OK not all of these are Hampstead Village but rather Hampstead/NW3 and environs. In addition there are a bunch of worthwhile gastros serving hearty, comforting food namely The Horseshoe, The Wells and The Bull & Last which is the real standout in Dartmouth Park on the other side of the Heath. I'm also told that the legendary Holly Bush pub has upped its game foodwise. And the Freemasons, while only offering mediocre food, has one of the best beer gardens in London. The Bar Room Bar on the High St has relaunched as The Rosslyn Arms, they do pizzas in a wood-fired oven which I'm told are pretty good.

          Giacobazzi has now opened a restaurant opposite the shop, it's called Osteria Emilia and is reasonably good. Jin Kichi remains a good solid izakaya. The Creperie is as popular as ever. We now have an indoor market on Saturday mornings with a number of Borough Market traders in attendance. And a new speciality sandwich stall on the weekends (in the alley way before the fishmonger) with various ethnic fillings, I am yet to try. My family know the people behind Meghna, we've heard very good reports, mean to try it out. Woodlands is very hit and miss, probably more miss. There's Silvas, a Portuguese place on Heath St going up towards the ponds, I keep meaning to try it out.

          Down on Finchley Road near the tube station, there's Mahdi which is excellent Iranian. A little distance from there you have Singapore Garden, a neighbourhood standout. Eriki used to be excellent Indian on Finchley Road, it's still above average I reckon. My point is that the area is not quite the culinary wasteland it's often portrayed as.

          Golders Green has some interesting options - Cafe Japan and Eat Tokyo for Japanese (plus a little Japanese grocery store nearby), Kimchi for Korean (plus Seoul Plaza grocery store on Golders Green Rd), Golden Brown bakery @ 88 Golders Green Rd for excellent bagels and breads, they have a short cafe menu which I plan to try at some point. Hainanese is all-you-can-eat Chinese which usually sets the alarm bells ringing but is surprisingly good food and great value (part of the group that owns Shanghai Blues in Holborn). Plus there are other places on Golders Green Road which I am curious to try including Chinese, Middle Eastern, Kosher Indian, Steakhouse. Leons quite far down Golders Green Rd is a really good greengrocers.

          11 Replies
          1. re: oonth

            I think youve done a great job there at exhaustively covering the better restaurants and pubs of hampstead but to be blunt all those choices fit into the mid level mediocrity division ! Hampstead is gorgeous and must be amongst the wealthiest spots in the world but there is nothing of the level other neighbourhood areas have eg chez bruce in wandsworth common

            1. re: millema

              Fair enough. Without getting into semantics i would put some of the above (eg Bull & Last, Goldfish, Ikura, Giacobazzi) into a higher category than mid-level mediocrity but at the same time there's nowhere in Hampstead that I would term excellent and never has been in my on/off 18 or so years of living in the nabe. Attempts at high end places (eg the New End on Heath Street a few years back) invariably fail.

              There are certainly quite a few London nabes that I would choose to live in over Hampstead in terms of eating options but Wandsworth Common/Battersea/Balham wouldn't be amongst them. Apart from Chez Bruce, what else in the way of good restaurants, markets, cafes/pubs, food shops are to be found within say a 1 mile radius of Wandsworth Common station? I've heard good reports on options in Earlsfield which is nearby I guess.

              1. re: oonth

                i do thoroughly believe the bull and last is excellent in its field -- a combination of solid quality food , lovely staff , a 'proper' pint and a pub that still looks like a pub . However its a fair old walk from hampstead even across the stunning heath .

                1. re: oonth

                  as you are very knowledgeable on nw3 have you been to the little french restaurant practially next door to the flask pub ,? the cage or something like that . It looks a cute , little room and certainly not expensive with a simple yet attractive menu but i never see anyone eating there .

                  1. re: millema

                    Yep can't disagree, Bull & Last is definitely not Hampstead, it's approx 1.4 miles from the High Street, takes me a brisk 20-25 mins walk to get there.

                    The French place is called Cage Imaginaire (, I've actually never been. Reading the online menu doesn't much inspire me but maybe I should try it out along with Frascati and Bacchus on Heath St, 2 other longstanding nabe fixtures which I've never set foot in.

                  2. re: oonth

                    You are right about Wandsworth. There's a good pub for Irish music on a Saturday night but aside from Chez Bruce, I don't think there are many culinary diamonds in that area.

                    1. re: zuriga1

                      My point is that if theres one excellent restaurant in Wandsworth there should be at least one in Hampstead in my humble opinion.

                      1. re: millema

                        I certainly agree with you about that. It's a bit the same where I live down in Surrey. Considering the inhabitants of some towns, one would think there would be a ton(ne) of very high end establishments. There really aren't or maybe we just have not looked hard enough. The only place we regularly go to here is The French Table in Surbiton.

                        1. re: zuriga1

                          There's another French place and a nice Indian just around the corner from Chez Bruce in Wandsworth. But then nearby you haveTooting Bec, which although doesn't offer high end dining, there are lots of options to choose from.

                          Oonth - There're lots of places to eat in Battersea, especially Lavender Hill?

                          I like Tacuba in Balham for Mexican street food and cocktails and also The Cattle grid for steak.

                          1. re: Nii

                            It's true that Tooting Bec has a lot of offerings. I'd rather take the train to London than the nightmarish ride by car to Tooting. It's not a bad destination if coming by Tube from London.

                            1. re: Nii

                              Nii, yes you're right, there are good options on Lavender Hill, St Johns Hill, Northcote Road although these are not places I get to much these days.

                              I have to disagree you with about Tacuba though - I went there with high hopes end of last year and thought that the food was pretty awful and reinforced the view that there's very little in the way of quality Mexican fare to be had in London.