Ten days ago I returned to London after a holiday in India. While Londoners had already fully embraced the Christmas season, my mind was still dreaming of my days spent by the beach in Goa. I was not ready for Christmas decorations, seasonal parties and gift-shopping… it turns out, all I needed to get me in a festive mood was an evening spent in Connaught Village. I was there with a few friends from the London Instagram scene to join a food and wine tour of the neighbourhood.
Connaught Village is one of London’s hidden gems, a mix of elegant Georgian and Victorian mews terraces, just a stroll away from Hyde Park. The houses are a dream, particularly now that they are all dressed up for Christmas. If I win the lottery one day, I will buy a townhouse overlooking the private gardens on Connaught Square! ;)
Connaught Village is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in London. I first stumbled upon it 7-8 years ago when I worked for an advertising agency in Edgware Road. I always liked to go for a walk at lunch time to explore the areas around the office and that’s how one day I discovered Connaught Street.
I returned many times over the years and thankfully the area hasn’t changed much over the last few years since I first visited it. It’s a quiet and charming oasis in central London with a strong neighbourhood feel.
The neighbourhood includes the triangle of Connaught Street, Kendal Street and Porchester Place. The busy areas of Paddington and Marble Arch are just a few minutes away, but you won’t get any of the noise and crowds in Connaught Village.
Connaught Village is a residential neighbourhood, but it’s also a shopping and dining destination: it is home to 45 shops and independent restaurants or cafés.
One of my favourite shops is Abasto, an Argentinian deli / wine and coffee shop. You must try their empanadas! We didn’t go to Abasto on our food tour, but we did go to Casa Malevo which is the next door restaurant owned by the same people (scroll down to read more about it).
Another one of my favourite shops in Connaught Village is Buchanan’s Cheesemonger: an absolute dream shop for cheese lovers (try the truffle brie!).
Our food and wine tour of Connaught Village started at Connaught Cellars, a quality focused independent wine merchant and tasting room specialised in French and Italian wines.
Connaught Cellars is a neighbourhood gem, loved by the locals who like to pop in regularly to buy a bottle of their favourite wines or to take part to the weekly tasting sessions. Though I suspect one of the reasons locals love to stop by Connaught Cellars is to say hello to Cooper the dog! :)
We started with a blind tasting of two delicious Champagne: La Chancellière and Sanger. What’s important in Champagne is the balance of sweetness, acidity and freshness.
I learnt the difference between Brut Blonde de Noir (made with black grapes) and Blonde de blonde (made with Chardonnay grapes). They are very different in colour, nose and taste, but equally delicious.
We continued with a red wine blind tasting, before finishing the tasting session with a fantastic Domaine Rolet Macvin du Jura white wine, a well balanced wine matured in oak casks for 18 to 24 months . It’s fantastic for aperitif or paired with a dessert.
Our second stop was Bombay Palace, an Indian restaurant serving a range of traditional dishes from all over India (the head chef is from Punjab) including my favourite Mumbai street food (dahi batata puri), south Indian thali, marinated barbecue meat and soft naan bread.
We moved on to Colbeh, a bring-your-own-bottle restaurant specialised in Persian and Middle Eastern cuisine. The first thing you notice as you enter is the tandoor naan, used to bake delicious bread. I ate lots of it, dipped in Colbeh’s flavourful mezze.
Don’t make the mistake to eat too much bread (as I did)… the kebab meat was incredibly tasty!
The final stop on our food and wine tour of Connaught Village was Casa Malevo, where you will find some of the best Argentinian food and prime quality beef cooked on the grill. The A la Carte menu is paired with beautiful Argentinian wines. We tasted a few from the sweet wine selection, paired with Buchanan’s cheese platter. So tasty!
Don’t leave Casa Malevo without tasting their Dulche de Leche Crème Caramel!
Finally, we had access to an exclusive viewpoint to see London at night: the 22nd rooftop of a tower block just off Connaught Street. The views of the London skyline and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park were absolutely spectacular!
A great way to end our festive night out in Connaught Village.
Disclaimer: I was invited on the tour as a guest. All opinions are my own.