I’m a truly seasonal eater, says The Restaurant Club’s Louisa Walters.
In autumn I crave casseroles and crumbles, in winter it’s all about puddings and pies, spring has me reaching for asparagus and lamb, and summer… oh I just LOVE summer dining!
Suddenly salads are appealing and don’t even get me started on the ice-cream.
Here are my favourite summer spots.
For Brunch: Nati’s on Priory, Crouch End*
This bright, sunny, dog-friendly café belongs to the eponymous Nati.
Hungarian-born, her love of baking started as child watching her grandmother stretching strudel pastry on the family dining table until it was perfectly see-through.
When she moved to London, Nati developed an interest in artisan food and speciality coffee.
Travelling in the Middle East, she discovered local food, such as shakshuka and a typical brunch that includes eggs, salad, bread, spreads and dips, which promises to fill you up for the rest of the day!
I head here regularly for avocado and slow-roasted tomatoes on sourdough toast with a poached egg. I never leave without a freshly baked cinnamon roll to take home.
For Pan Asian: BAW, Mill Hill
From the guys behind Guglee Indian restaurants, BAW serves fresh, tasty and healthy pan-Asian food at affordable prices in a funky, colourful restaurant.
The dishes are inspired by street food eateries all over South East Asia. I love the freshly prepared salads, soups, grills, traditional noodle dishes (my favourite is the chicken Pad Thai), rice dishes, stir fries and curries and there’s a great cocktail list!
The whole front opens up on warmer days with outside tables.
Galvin at Centurion, Hemel Hempstead* for Sunday Lunch
A new venture from Michelin-starred brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin, this is a welcoming and informal restaurant in elegant surroundings, with magnificent views across the golf course where it is based.
On sunny days you can eat outside on the terrace. Sunday lunch (£25.50 for three courses) offers the traditional roast, plus plenty of fish and vegetarian options.
The roast cod with light curried dressing and the rhubarb cheesecake I had were both memorable.
Everything is beautifully presented and the Galvin own label red/white wine goes down a treat. A little dish of truffles and macaroons is served with coffee – I love this touch.
Flying Sushi, East Barnet*
Sushi is real summery food and my firm favourite for a sushi fix is Flying Sushi in East Barnet.
This is a tiny weeny place with a highly-talented chef creating phenomenally good food.
He’s really creative and offers great additions to the usual options. I always order seared beef tataki with coriander dressing, and tempura tuna sashimi roll with miso dressing.
For Middle Eastern – Zala, Camden*
This gorgeous little place in the heart of The Stables in Camden serves the most fabulous fresh Middle Eastern food bursting with flavour.
There are tables outside or you can sit inside – in warm weather all the doors are flung open and it’s bright and sunny. I love the whole baked sea bream with a side of bulgur and the apple malabi for dessert is unmissable.
You also have to try the Levantine pizza. Best of all though is the free (yes FREE!) meze to start. Seven little dishes of total dreaminess and fantastic pita to scoop it all up with!
Bnova, Stanmore* for Indian
This doesn’t feel like an Indian restaurant as it’s so spacious and airy. It has super-comfy chairs (this is one of my bugbears!) and it’s easy to park. I always struggle with decision-making when faced with a large menu, so the vegetarian platter solves all my problems for starters. My favourite dish is the Goan fish curry, which is creamy and tasty with succulent chunks of tilapia and much nicer than anything I ate when I went to Goa. The pomegranate and rose ice-cream is unmissable.
For Chinese – Zing Zing, Islington, Kentish Town, Kensal Rise, Elephant & Castle*
I’ve never been one for takeaway – I often find that flavour and texture get lost in translation – but Zing Zing has been a game-changer for me. It’s designed to be taken out (you can’t eat in) and it works brilliantly.
I especially love the miso aubergine, the salt and pepper mushrooms and the crispy shredded beef – it’s actually chunky shredded beef with proper succulent beef. The peach tea with lychee ‘pobbles’ comes in a cute jar with a fat straw.
But best of all are the Nutella and banana spring rolls, and Nutella s’mores spring rolls for dessert. All branches deliver within a two/three mile radius, plus they are on Deliveroo, or you can collect.
For date night – Korova, Tufnell Park*
I absolutely adore this little bistro, housed in a former butcher shop. The ornate 1930s tiling has been retained and really adds to the ambience.
Chef and owner Steve uses locally-sourced produce to create an exciting menu that is chalked up on a board and changes weekly. I’m still dreaming about the morel and black truffle risotto I had recently and a stunning salmon dish with a wonderful creamy sauce.
Really good food, friendly service by Steve’s wife Sital and a lovely atmosphere. The bijou bar serves classic cocktails and some innovative special creations.
For Brunch- Head Room, Golders Green and Delicatessen, West Hampstead
I have to hand it to Or Golan – he knows how to make food seriously appetising. Head Room is his genius concept in collaboration with Jami – a fabulous milky café complete with an eclectic mix of vintage clothing for sale.
A wide range of salads and seriously good shakshuka for when I’m being ‘good’ – indulgent challah toasties and amazing bakery yummies for when I’m not.
Or has recently opened Delicatessen in Fairfax Road. Here Tel Aviv meets London in an Ottolenghi-type destination restaurant serving outstanding food that just happens to be kosher. I can’t possibly highlight a favourite dish – I love everything and so will you.
For Brunch – The Creamery, Mill Hill*
With quirky decor and friendly staff, The Creamery is a divine little hangout dishing up artisan handmade gelato (regular and vegan), crepes cooked right before your eyes and doughnuts the size of a small child. Leave your diet at the door and enjoy pure extravagance! The Sicilian pistachio ice-cream alone is worth a visit. Tables outside for sunny days, more inside for cooler days and of course you can grab and go.