We’ve talked before about London’s trendiest restaurants, its street food culture and other culinary riches of the UK’s capital. Here, we’ll be looking at the city for foodies; casting an eye over the calendar of food festivals, tasting the city’s mouth-watering goods in different markets and neighbourhoods and recommending some of its hottest restaurants. Hope you’re hungry…
London Food Festivals
The capital’s calendar is overflowing with lively, sociable events to suite every palate. Here are some of our favourites.
Taste of London, June
This is one of the most famous and popular food festivals on the London calendar. Taste of London transforms Regent’s Park into one giant sampling restaurant. Over 40 eateries across various disciplines serve up affordable, delectable dishes to hungry punters from all over. There are Taste festivals from Chicago to Sydney to South Africa and beyond, and it’s easy to see their appeal: it’s a chance for the public to try a range of food types without having to worry about booking, location or big bills; and for restaurants to get face to face with customers they might not ordinarily meet. Le Cordon Bleu graduates are often a fixture at Taste of London; cooking up a storm, offering advice, running a stand and holding demonstrations. For instance, Le Cordon Bleu alumnus Josh Katz of Berber & Q and Diggle Chocolates, founded by Philippa Diggle, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chocolatier, were both at the 2018 and 2019 festivals.
Tower of London Festival, September
The Tower of London Food Festival boasts probably the most impressive setting of any festival (in the city or beyond), on the grounds of the famous historical site. Tents, stands and gazebos brim with street food, restaurant fare, pop-up bars and opportunities to buy snacks and meals to eat at home or on the spot. Live music plays from the bandstand, celebrity chefs hold Q&As and book signings, and there are activities and classes for adults and children. This is a vibrant, fun festival - many generations removed from the more sombre events that used to take place in the Tower!
Cake and Bake Show, October
The biggest baking event in the UK will return to whet appetites and inspire dessert fans of every (candy) stripe. This is the place to go for anyone with a sweet tooth, whether you want to learn the fine art of baking, have a meet and greet with your favourite baker, watch a demonstration or sample and buy from the dozens of stands and stalls. Le Cordon Bleu are friends of this event and hold free demonstrations on how to create sweet delicacies. Our chefs also offer a slice of advice if you have any searing questions. Any baker knows that a dessert should be as pleasing to the eye as it is to the taste buds, and the illusion cakes are always a showstopper. Like the best food events, Cake and Bake offers a range of tips, advice and recipes, some of which take pride of place on the event’s website.
Best Places for Foodies in London
London is so vast and immense that it can be tricky to know where to start. Finding the right market or neighbourhood is a good first step, though. Wear comfortable shoes!
Markets for Foodies
The best places to see in London combine the city’s rich history with new ideas. Borough Market is a perfect example. One of the oldest food markets in the country (which is saying something), it combines street food with market produce (cheeses, breads and more) and some excellent restaurants. If you’re looking for hot food on the go, the market stalls sell everything from freshly baked muffins to a broad, rich variety of street food. On the slightly more formal side, the sit-down restaurants include seafood restaurant Wright Brothers, Spanish eatery Tapas Brindisa and the traditional British restaurant, Roast. Borough Market sits just a short jaunt from London Bridge, so it’s very popular with locals and tourists alike and thus can be quite busy.
Maltby Street Market
Smaller and less famous than some other food markets, Maltby has a hidden gem quality that other markets lack. It’s a little tighter than the likes of Camden or Borough, but what it lacks in space it makes up for in quality and atmosphere. Competition for a vendors’ spot here is fierce, so only the best makes it to these stalls. Expect inventive street food, cool bars and (if you’re lucky) lots of samples.
Famous, vibrant and varied, Southbank feeds a mix of Londoners and countless international visitors every day. Yes, you can get tasty hot street food here, but there are also pastries and desserts, and even a nice beer or cocktail in the evening. This one is among the easiest to find – if the central London location doesn’t tip you off, then there are countless tours that will bring you here.
Street Food and Market Halls
The rise of street food over the past few years is a well documented one (we even looked at the street food trend), so it is no surprise that dedicated street food venues and market halls are continuing to flourish.
Found in popular lunchtime areas in and around the City Mile, KERB markets are notorious hotspots for city workers who are on the hunt for great food. With roots very much in outdoor lunchtime spaces, KERB also branched into the permanent all-day food hall scene in 2019 with their Seven Dials Market. What's more, through their 3-month InKERBator programme, early stage businesses are given support to help them accelerate their growth via mentorship, resources and pitches at their numerous sites. This can only be a positive for Londoners seeking out great street food!
Mercato Metropolitano's first permanent site tucked back from Elephant & Castle's Newington Causeway, delivers not just great locally-sourced food and drink, but also includes a produce market, live music space and community focussed events ranging from watercolour painting, to terrarium workshops. With a subsequent site in Mayfair now open and a further two London sites in the pipeline, you can expect more great seasonal, natural and sustainable food (in-line with their MManifesto), as well as community events and activities.
Focussing on dedicated permenant spaces, Market Halls have restored three sites across London to showcase the best food and drink that a particular area has to offer. Market Halls are all located relatively central, with venues in Fulham, Victoria and the West End (Oxford Street), which is also the largest food hall in the UK. Excellent food can be found at all their sites, with an eclectic mix of traders which means there's something for everyone: Gopal's Corner (by Roti King), Pastaoi and Super Tacos are some of our favourites. Each space is indoors and fully covered - perfect for those rainy London days - but tend to offer an additional outdoor roof terrace for those few perfect days of summer.
One of the early companies to focus on street food specific venues, Street Feast has multiple sites around East/South East London, with some permanent and others only open during the summer as they are largely outdoors. Dinerama is their mainstay in Shoreditch which is open all year round, with Giant Robot in Canary Wharf helping to feed the docklands area throughout all four seasons as well. In the summer, head down the road to Canada Water for Hawker House, or venture further south to Lewisham's open air Model Market. Whichever venue you choose, there's great food to be found, such as Raastawala, Thunderbird, Up in my Grill and Growlers by Le Cordon Bleu alumna Charley Friedman.
Best neighbourhoods for Foodies
Zooming out a little, London is big enough to contain entire neighbourhoods and boroughs for those with a big appetite and an open mind.
Camden is varied, quirky and bursting with personality, and its restaurants and stalls could be described the same way. A quintessentially “hipster” borough, restaurants here vary from gourmet burgers to a vast range of cuisine from around the world. One such example is Maize Blaze, a vibrant Columbian street food stall from Le Cordon Bleu alumna Ruth Christianson, which can be found in Camden Market.
Another corner of London with personality to spare, Shoreditch hosts beloved Vietnamese places like Tay Do, soul food via Peru in Andina Peruvian Kitchen and hearty American-style eateries too. Also, not for nothing, the nightlife in Shoreditch is world famous, with an electric bar and music scene.
Locals nickname the street between Angel and Highbury “Supper Street” and it’s easy to see why. This underrated part of the city is the place to go for Italian, Ecuadorian or Turkish cuisine. By the time you read this, another classy, distinctive eatery has probably opened there!
Restaurants for Foodies in London
Finally, London’s restaurant scene is one of the finest in the world – broad, high-quality and endlessly evolving. Here are some of the hottest restaurants in the city right now.
Fusion food is massive in London, partly because London itself is a fusion of countless cultures and cuisines and partly because Londoners are open-minded when it comes to good food. Ramael Scully, the visionary chef behind this restaurant, was born in Malaysia and grew up in Sydney, and he has Chinese, Irish, Indian and Balinese heritage. Little surprise, then, that Scully offers incredible fusions: from tomato salad with grated coconut to goat’s cream cheesecake with strawberries, everything on this menu is inventive and exciting. Scully, like many of London’s finest chefs, is a friend of Le Cordon Bleu and has visited the school as a guest chef.
Roka’s lamb cutlets with Korean spices are already the stuff of legend in this city, but anything you order at a Roka restaurant will be a delight. These are a sister restaurants to the famous Zuma, boasting some of the best grilled Japanese food you could ask for across a few London locations. These high-end restaurants have a strong connection with Le Cordon Bleu. In fact, the entire Zuma group who own these restaurants along with Oblix are internship partners with us. That means, when you’re eating one of Roka’s fine meals, they might have been prepared by Le Cordon Bleu alumnus. Julien Philippe, executive pastry chef for Zuma group, recently held a guest chef demonstration at Le Cordon Bleu London.
This one combines fine views with even better food, serving Michelin-starred fare while you take in the view across Piccadilly. Hide Above serves refined, seasonal food, presented as individual dishes or as a tasting menu. Many diners opt for the more affordable – but equally divine – set lunch. Its head chef and co-owner, Ollie Dabbous, is one of culinary London’s hottest properties, thanks to his innovative dishes and quest for perfection. He shared some of this vast experience and knowledge with Le Cordon Bleu students last summer and has hired many Le Cordon Bleu graduates through his partnership with the school.
Le Cordon Bleu – a cornerstone of London cuisine
Our school sits at the heart of the most exciting culinary city in the world. Countless restaurant meals across London have been lovingly prepared by Le Cordon Bleu alumni. Our range of professional culinary programmes have been generating chefs, restaurateurs and other catering professionals for over 120 years. Why not join them by applying for one of our professional cooking courses today?