LDNGuide

Where To Pretend You’re In A Countryside Farm Shop In London

6 idyllic delis and cafes where you can dream you have a Jeep Wrangler and not a Toyota Prius.
The interior of a deli with wooden benches filled with fresh vegetables and packets of crisps, with a red and white striped awning visible through the window.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

You’ve spent the last week clutching your throat, complaining about the smog, and telling anyone who’ll listen that you just need to get out of London for a bit. What you need is the countryside—big rolling hills, charming farm shops, local wines—but you’ve also used up all your annual leave and/or are scared of driving on motorways. 

Don’t worry, there are countryside-feeling spots in the city that will scratch the itch, and where you can pretend you have a Jeep Wrangler and not a Toyota Prius.

Bakery/Cafe

Highbury

$$$$Perfect For:Coffee & A Light BitePastries
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There are lots of things the French do better—art house movies, stripes, wispy fringes—and arguably the countryside is one of them. If your ideal countryside escape includes wafting about a sun-blasted scene with a fresh croissant in one hand and a slab of comté under your arm for later, go to Le Péché Mignon. This adorable Highbury Fields cafe is one blue-shuttered farmhouse away from transporting you to Brittany. Cycling home with a pain au chocolat (straight from the oven) and a hardback-sized croque monsieur in your front basket is strongly encouraged for the full Francophile experience.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

We once caught ourselves staring at a perfect cabbage at Gladwell’s and thinking, “now that is a good-looking vegetable”. This idyllic Camberwell spot is a greengrocer, deli, butcher, and bakery all rolled into one. It’s where we go to fantasise about our dream second home—preferably in Cotswold stone, with a big wooden kitchen table like the one here. Stop by in the morning for coffee, when the bouquets of flowers wrapped in brown paper have not yet been plucked from silver buckets. And when lunch rolls around, get the hearty soup or a well-stuffed chicken focaccia sandwich if you're heading back to your real home.

photo credit: Koray Firat

For a pocket of village life in London, look no further than Pulp in Ealing. On warm days, tables spill on to the pavement and dachshunds shuffle around ankles trying to catch the crumbs of a scrollsant—a brioche pastry stuffed with ‘things from the allotment’. And like all the best countryside pit stops, strangers chat in the queue with the familiarity of old friends. Nobody is in a rush here. Grab your spicy, oozy tuna melt to go and stroll over to Walpole Park, or do like the person on the table next to you and pour over a broadsheet while sipping a glass of wine. Just be sure to pop into the quaint greengrocer next door when you do eventually leave.

This Hackney spot is just a Hunter welly boot shuffle from Victoria Park, and it’s a superior place to stock up on top-tier snacks. The shelves of The Deli Downstairs are lined like a Willy Wonka’s chocolate shop—but for adults who dream of Torres crisps, Guinness cake, and their vegetables displayed in wicker baskets. There are a few seats outside, but the likelihood is that these will have already been nabbed—but it’s easy to cosplay at a countryside picnic. Load up with a seeded bagel and some of Papo’s Bagels’ jalapeño smear, as well as some totopos, and head over to the park. Gingham blankets and Nora Ephron paperbacks are encouraged.

Everything at this Mayfair deli looks too pristine to have ever seen soil—we’ve considered buying the white asparagus from here as home decor. If your version of the countryside involves glamorous parties on manicured lawns, a distinct lack of bugs, and wifi—you’ll find your people in Farm Shop. There’s a hidden wine bar downstairs—for those who can’t quite get on board with the creaking and cobwebs of a countryside pub—and monochrome, abstract artwork rather than dusty old family portraits. Order the ploughman’s board and a glass of the Maid Of Bruton (from their own vineyard, naturally) while you ponder whether or not you could pull off a tweed suit.

After a couple of minutes spent browsing at Natoora Counter, you’ll ask yourself, “which taxidermy-filled pub shall I stop by after this?”. This Notting Hill cafe and greengrocer has the same calming effect as a long, woodland walk. The tomato varieties come with little cards explaining where they were produced and how best to eat them. And instead of discussing whether or not avocados are problematic in your usual London breakfast spot, you can eat seasonal dishes like asparagus with white beans, and courgette and salted ricotta. You’ll leave feeling like you have a veg patch, and not a single cracked concrete slab that even foxes turn their noses up at.

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