Belsize Park- A Most Beneficial Situation
Spend a day at one of the classiest areas of London and fight the rich and famous over the last green tea chocolate gateau.
Belsize Park is one of the most glamourous and well-heeled areas of London. With a plethora of famous residents from Tim Burton to Kate Moss and the Gallagher brothers (though obviously not in the same house) the area has an accordingly reputable array of restaurants, entertainment and delicatessens. Described as akin to ‘Beverly Hills but with much worse weather’, this North London crèche boasts prime examples of Victorian and Georgian mansions and what a borough council can achieve with a good cleaning budget. Technically, it’s a small section within Hampstead Town though closer to Camden. Fittingly, the name is derived from the French ‘bel assis’ which means ‘well situated’. For those who like to find themselves intentionally lost in cities, Belsize Park is one of the best locations to wonder around aimlessly in: just enough small streets to become disorientated, more than enough fancy shops to browse through, and never far from a tube station.
Belsize Park is more of a sit down dinner locale than barfly hangout (border-line alcoholism is handled according to Debrett’s etiquette: kept at home and done with a bottle of high-quality wine). There’s an agreeable mixture of splendid local eateries as well as some of the best restaurants in London that diners explicitly trek to. Hands-down, Tastes of the Nile is one of the premier Egyptian restaurants in the capital. Having started just down the road as a humble food stand in Swiss Cottage, Tastes of the Nile gathered so much momentum that it opened its restaurant in 2012 to rave reviews. It continues its modest roots with a very casual, warm setting that feels as though you’re being served in a favourite auntie’s house. XO is the cousin of Notting Hill’s E&O, both of which specialise in uber-trendy East Asian fusion cuisine. Their exotic cocktails are a match made in heaven for their dim sum. For up-market Indian cuisine served in clean, elegant setting, look no further than Hazara. Attention to detail is their strong suit, and their herbs are ground from scratch every day. Café Lanka is a much treasured French tea house and patisserie that creates imagination-bending cakes on a daily basis. You’ll find green tea chocolate gateau, yuzu mousse, impressive swan choux a la crème, and Paris brest amongst its artisanal spread.
Designer shops make up the backbone of commercial goods in Belsize Park. In particular, women’s clothing and accessories are the major genres. Tara Jarmon’s sleek and wearable Parisian designs have found a new home in the area for the discernible, laid-back lady. Both genders will be pleased to see Nicole Farhi’s understated sculptural fashion on display. Janet Reger’s store is remarkably affordable for the area, as well as for the quality of her lingere collections. Question Air stocks a variety of lesser-known quality brands alongside some well-known favourites such as Paul Smith and Vivienne Westwood. Aside from fashion, you can further your hobbies at the highly regarded Daunt Books, and learn the appeal behind coin collecting at Dolphin Coins.
Almost all areas in London tend to have a local market, however, Belsize Park breaks this rule. Forget markets, we’re in supreme delicatessen territory. The Black Truffle Deli provides a fine selection of homemade food and produce created by in-house Cordon Bleu trained chefs, as well as a fanciful range of teas and coffees. Pomona takes grocery shopping to the next level by sourcing the best produce from markets around London in the wee hours of the morning. For an even-handed, old-skool deli, Belsize Village Delicatessen is the preferred establishment. Champion of York hams and roast beef, they’ll also fill your plate with cheeses, salads, and pates. The local butcher is Barratt’s whose knowledgeable and friendly staff will lead you through their assortment of fresh and cooked meats, pies, cheeses, and game. When you’ve had your fill of hearty meats, head over to Crescent Fruiterers to cancel out that pork belly with a basket full of flavourful fruits from near and far.
Passing the time is a cultured affair where you can develop your interests and your skills in a refined setting. Discover and learn about the history of psychoanalysis at the Freud Museum, where the grandfather of the controversial subject spent his last days. The Everyman Cinema is a long way away from the standard cinema an everyman would actually visit. With lush leather seating, a pleasingly trashtastic-inspired menu, an eclectic bar and a stage in front of the screen for events, the cinema is one of the most luxurious in London. Finding new theatrical talent is almost assured with a trip to the Hampstead Theatre. The internationally regarded theatre has supported new writing since its conception, and was the theatre of choice for Pinter to trial his new plays. Have some self-respect, for Christ’s sake, and teach yourself how to cook a proper meal at the Waitrose Cookery School. Their half-day, day, and evening courses cover cuisines from across the globe, helping you to reach your culinary potential both in terms of cooking for yourself at home and entertaining guests.