Charles Dickens once wrote of Seven Dials, “The stranger who finds himself in the Dials for the first time…at the entrance of Seven obscure passages, uncertain which to take will see enough around him to keep his curiosity awake for no inconsiderable time…”
His timeless words still ring true today, particularly when describing a foodie’s first visit to the network of inter-crossing streets making up the area. From tahini madeleines to dark chocolate seasoned with basil and Persian lime alongside flavours from the Barbary Coast (and beyond) – there are all manners of thrilling epicurean experiences waiting to be discovered in the Dials.
For the top picks for breakfast through to dinner in Seven Dials, check out
The Foodie Diaries' guide.
Inspired by Scandinavian cooking traditions and the cosy concept of hygge, 26 Grains, a rustic café in magical Neal’s Yar, is a celebration of humble oats, amongst other obscure grains. Expect pretty-as-a-picture porridge bowls piled high with nut butters, fruits and superfoods, with savoury options available too – including one that features eggs and avocado. With porridge this gorgeous, one simply can’t help but ask for more.
A meal at The Barbary is a raucous adventure along The Barbary Coast of North Africa towards Jerusalem. Every, and I mean every, dish flying out of the open-plan kitchen is a high-level pleasure, from the sesame-studded Jerusalem bagel and Naan-e-Barbari – which double as mediums to sop up the lusty starter-dips – to the wonderfully-naughty knafeh for afters, a devilishly deep-fried nest of kadaif noodles cocooning melted mozzarella cheese. Lengthy waits are inevitable (Time Out having recently named The Barbary, Restaurant of the Year) but in a welcome move, they now take reservations for lunch. Joy.
For a lighter option, there’s always The Barbary’s next door, Jacob The Angel, a contemporary café inspired by England’s first coffee house. If you’ve been restrained enough to have one of their salad boxes or quiches for lunch, you definitely deserve a coconut cream pie and a tahini madeleine (or a few) for afters.
When it’s time for tea and more treats, head to Rococo Chocolates to experience high-grade cocoa beans seasoned with enticingly unusual ingredients. Think white chocolate tinged with cardamom and dark chocolate suffused with basil and Persian lime. The exemplary macarons at Pierre Hermé Paris’s beautiful boutique around the corner are always a good idea too.
As for where to whet your whistle, start your evening at the brightly cheerful
Monmouth Kitchen where fragrant cocktails are dispatched with light Peruvian plates. Oenophiles could find their way back to the wonderful Neal’s Yard, where
Casanova and Daughters offers an eminently drinkable list of glou-glou (roughly translating to glug-glug) wines. If you’ve chanced upon a gloriously sunny evening, a table al fresco at Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels is highly covetable too.
Last but not least, I’d be remiss for leaving out Talli Joe: an all-day Indian restaurant majoring in fuss-free, flavour-packed plates as varied as the vast diversity of India’s myriad regions and sub-cultures. The chai and black gajar halwa (a milky pudding made with purple heritage carrots) make for an especially uplifting note on which to round off a memorable food-fuelled day in the Dials.
Words and images by Ayushi, the writer behind The Foodie Diaries, a food, travel & lifestyle journal.
Follow her foodie travels on Instagram: @the_foodiediaries