On a very soggy September morning, I found myself in Hampstead. So many droplets were shed this day; light spitting transformed into drizzle, into sideswiping downpour. The sort that clings to your every being making you look like a mystical creature with magical fairy dust gleaming like diamonds on your flyaway hairs. But that’s not the case because in actual fact your hair is soaked and frizzy and your glasses needs windscreen wipers.
I had originally ventured to work at the first trading day of Hampstead Market, and as the market quietened down and the closing hours arrived, I decided not to waste the opportunity of being in Hampstead; a little corner of London that I don’t normally visit. So instead of returning to an empty, albeit dry, flat, I wandered around soaked, amusing myself by finding the gems of this little village in London’s zone 2. Admittedly I didn’t amble far as the first place to the fourth was a 3 minute walk. In any case, if you don’t know what to do in Hampstead, and are feeling a little peckish, want to window shop to your pantry’s content or need a little caffeine boost, then these four places are solid contenders.
Big up to the community’s support and the Market Managers’ hard work, as the turn out was great and bustling, in spite of the weather and especially being the first ever trading day. Not only was the local support impressive, but the trader line up was pretty sublime too. Top hits include Borough Cheese, Flour Station, Wild Organics, Greenhouse Juicery, Cannon & Cannon, beautiful macarons by Wharf Road Bakery and the juiciest, tastiest burger by The Roadery garnished with wild garlic mayo and wild blackberry hot sauce. Coffee was supplied in the form of a little pop-up van than hits 35 mph on the road, Moloko Coffee. The branding is beautiful and the barista is super chilled, just loving his coffee art and on point milk steaming.
Located just opposite the tube station, under the archway shared by the Everyman Cinema. Gates are open wide leading to a Primary School during the week slash Farmer’s Market on a Saturday. Open 10am – 3pm, you’re able to fill your canvas bags with groceries and produce as well as being able to fill up yourselves with the street food options and snackey filo slices, quiches and brownies.
If you’re yearning for a cucumber, or some super jazzy seasonal aubergines and ducking in between gazebos aren’t your thing – this grocer is a vision. Stacked with crates of produce labelled with handwritten chalk tags, this is clearly a high quality and modern establishment. Towards the back is a Juice Bar with a solid range of cold press juices and smoothies. As a result I tried the Almond Milk, Banana and Cocoa and it was a creamy dream.
I’d know that red sans-serif text on a white background anywhere, but somehow I failed to know that they’ve had a grocer/café down one of the passages in Hampstead for a few years.
They’ve got their concept down to a T. They understand their kitchen’s capabilities and restrictions, hand producing everything that is labelled under their name in their central kitchen in Chalk Farm. From their preserves, tin cakes to hand toasted muesli, in addition to their salads and tarts available to take away in the form of a lunch bag. What they can’t produce, they source from likeminded artisans. Wandering the likes of Borough Market and Broadway Market (click here for blog post) for inspiration, their suppliers include some of the Big Dogs of the London food world: Crate Brewery, Gosnells, Isle of Wight Tomatoes, Brindisa for olive oil, stunningly packaged Geometry of Pasta and Chegworth Valley (click here for blog post).
They also have a mezzanine with marble bar table and communal table with benches for those caffeine infused moments. You can gaze down on the shop and pedestrians and watch the world pass by, which is just what I did, flat white in hand. Admittedly, their Climpson & Sons blend of beans was too bitter for my liking, being the sweet toothed, lighter roast person that I am. Perhaps it would be more suitable for non-milk based coffees as the citrus notes wouldn’t clash so heavily with the frothy goodness. But, I hold my hands up that I am not a major coffee geek so I might just be spouting nonsense.
A couple of parallel lanes down, the black-awned cafe of Ginger and White presides. It feels so English, in every best way. Canvas bags embossed with their caricatured ginger and white bulldog, artwork on the wall inspired by the Queen’s profile on the coin, melded with her portrait on the bank notes (admittedly better seen in person than with that description). Their main salon room feels like an old schoolroom, with yet another large communal table. Numbered hooks pin the wall for customers’ coats, and a couple of versions of very well read Ginger and White cookbooks dot the tables. There are a couple of snugs towards the back with the comfiest, slouchiest arm chairs.
The menu is always being revamped and there is a chalkboard alluding to the delightful sandwiches and salads on offer for any particular day. Their braised baked beans are to die for, spiced up with smoked paprika. It’s honestly a delightful place, with a great team whizzing about and steaming milk all day long. I need to make sure I head to their Kensal Rise twin soon!
I felt pretty buzzed after all the caffeine and had my bag full of quite a few goodies, including Melrose and Morgan’s sour cherry and almond granola which I am super excited to try.
Let me know if you have been to any of these Hampstead gems, and what you thought of them. Can you recommend any other places I should hit up as well?
Ginger & White
|Monday||7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|
|Tuesday||7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|
|Wednesday||7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|
|Thursday||7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|
|Friday||7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|
|Saturday||8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|
|Sunday||8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|
Melrose & Morgan
|Monday||8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.|
|Tuesday||8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.|
|Wednesday||8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.|
|Thursday||8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.|
|Friday||8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.|
|Saturday||8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.|
|Sunday||9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.|
|Saturday only||10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.|