What does South Kensington mean to you? If you are a self-declared ‘plant mom’ with an encyclopedic knowledge of things that could hurt your beloved baby French lavender, then you probably love this area for all of the garden squares. If you love The Arts, breathe The Arts, post excessively about THE ARTS on your ‘xx_Degas’FavBallarina_xx’ cultured Instagram, then you’re probably here for the museums, baby. Or, if you spent much of the last decade shaking your head whilst Jamie Laing took a metaphorical shit on another eighteen-year-old blonde’s confidence on a stucco terrace, then you probably love ‘South Kenny’ for the bevs. We salute you for all of the above, but we love SW7 for the food. Here are the dishes you absolutely need to try, no matter what reason you’re in the area.
For A Serious Omakase Moment
There are plenty of exclusive places to eat and drink in South Kensington where trainers or your semi-ironic board shorts won’t be allowed in. Frankly, we can’t get on board with that kind of thinking, long live our tattiest pair of mud-tinged Converse. But the only thing that’s frowned upon at Yashin Ocean House is soy sauce. This creative modern sushi restaurant on Old Brompton Road has an ever-changing list of top sushi including things like edible flowers, yuzu salt, truffle, and the odd theatrical smoke show. The high-quality fish is meant to speak for itself sans soy, which trust us, it does. As you might expect, this place is pricey but it’s totally worth it for an anniversary dinner, an intimate birthday for two, or pretty much any other special occasion we can think of.
Or if you’re after a more casual sushi situation, walk up Old Brompton Road to Dozo. Expect lunchtime bento boxes, creative rolls, and quality sashimi sets for £20.
SW7’s Best Pizza ft. All The Parmesan
If you blindfolded us and took us to Pappa Roma - well, we’d probably be concerned - but we’d also never guess that this great little restaurant is a casual ten-minute walk from many of London’s best museums. A proper Italian spot with a neighbourhood feel, this place does a huge cheese-fest of a lasagne and wood-fired pizzas, with our personal favourite being the parmesan-packed Primavera number. It also really doesn’t hurt that said delicious wood-fired pizzas start around the £10 mark, making this happy mosaic-tiled spot one of the most affordable options in the area.
Another Italian option nearby is Rocca Di Papa, a no-nonsense restaurant on Old Brompton Road with a top red sarda pizza, that we’re happy to tell you is also under a tenner.
Houmous, Halloumi, and Huge Seafood Platters
Ceru is a cheerful Levantine restaurant with a long menu that you should approach as more of a checklist. Sure, you might doubt whether you can fit in karides, houmous, hamara, a feta salad, zucchini fritters, merguez chicken, and a whole lamb shoulder all in one sitting, but please know that we’re rooting for you. And your stomach capacity. But whatever you do, don’t skip the houmous here as it’s some of the best in town. It’s also worth noting that they do £11 big lunch platters that are guaranteed to arrive within 20 minutes, which is perfect if you’re looking for a great, quick bite between museums.
When you’re after a bit of this and a bit of that, mini-chain Tapas Brindisa also works for a decent spread. Although there isn’t any of that houmous in sight, they serve the classics like jamon iberico, patatas bravas, and gambas al ajillo.
This Iconic Matcha Mille Crêpes
Kova Patisserie South Kensington
Most of the general public would argue that the Natural History Museum should take the top spot for South Kensington’s most iconic landmark. We’re going to go out on a limb and say that it’s actually Kova’s matcha whole mille crêpes. To be honest, both are stunning feats of architecture and this Japanese café’s signature mille crepe has more layers than the Olivia Rodrigo - Joshua Bassett love triangle. That’s a lot of layers. If matcha isn’t your thing, rest assured that everything from the sea salt cheese lava cake to the souffle cheesecake here is also a winner. For all our savoury lovers out there, they also make a mean chicken teriyaki sando, but no matter whether you’re peak sugar-head or live for the saltiness, be sure to get involved in the strawberry milk sando if it’s on. It’s excellent.
There’s no lack of excellent sweet treats in the area, but if you’re looking for another great little Japanese café you can head to Tombo for their matcha soft serve, yuzu lemon drizzle cake, and lunchtime donburi.
A Big-Deal Brunch In A Secret Garden
Brompton Food Market
Like eating ice cream in bed or getting a nipple piercing during your punk phase, having brunch in South Kensington just makes sense. A classic Saturday morning game plan is fuelling up on tasty things, so that you have enough emotional and physical strength for a day of shopping and checking out the latest exhibitions. On that note, we give you Brompton Food Market. Tucked behind Thurloe Place, this lowkey grocery and deli has a covered secret garden situation which serves big-deal brunch dishes. In our humble opinion, their full English is one of the best in west London. Don’t skip the smoothies either.
Or get involved in the shakshuka at buzzing coffee spot, Fernandez and Wells. If that place happens to be characteristically rammo, then you also can’t go wrong with a lowkey brunch situation at the homely café inside the Institut Francais, Café Tangerine.