Perhaps you know of it, perhaps you don’t. Situated in Northwest London, it could be described as a relatively unremarkable area of London. But for some of us locals who proudly call it home, it holds a dear place in our heart and is actually filled with culinary treats. It’s known mainly for its Jewish population, but these days is home to large Polish, Korean and Turkish communities too. Such a rich cultural mix means Golders is a great place to try different cuisines.
The Jewish population gives the area many great bakeries, but by far my favourite is Carmelli.
Their bagels cannot be beaten, and they also make some truly delicious sweet cheese pastries. Alongside these you will find some entertaining marzipan animals and faces, which while may perhaps look more fun than they actually taste, they feature as just some of the many baked delights to be found in this neighbourhood bakery.
Filled with goods not just from Korea, but Japan and China too, Seoul Plaza is a great place to source out different ingredients for your own kitchen. They also have the option of freshly made sushi and bento boxes. Don’t miss out on the absolute crème de la crème of Asian sweets, the white rabbit.
Another excellent international supermarket is Buy 2 Save. My go-to store for any middle eastern flavours, it stocks a whole host of goodies from date syrup to rose water, with delicious baklava to top it off.
But if it’s not bagels you’re after and you’ve no interest in Asian milk chews, don’t rule this glorious area out, as Golders also provides some absolute gems in the restaurant department. Home to two fine Turkish ocakbasi grill restaurants, you are never far from the enticing smell of grilled meats. Likya was the first and provides a great atmosphere, friendly service and some fantastic dishes, including sweetbreads and kidneys – and they are offally good.
The newer addition to the Turkish contingent in Golders is Durum, and dare I say it, my preference. Now this is when we really start talking about value! Opt for one of their set menus, and you are able to taste a wide range of their starters, such as these dips.
A great way to sample what the place has to offer, this spread includes hummus, babaganoush and taramasalata, as well as tzatziki, aubergine stew and a tabbouleh salad. But whatever you do, save room for the main. Because the mixed meat platter that follows is the stuff of carnivore heaven.
Featuring donner, shish and kofte kebabs of both lamb and chicken, along with lamb ribs and chicken wings, all on a bed of rice with a delicious side salad, it really is a no-brainer when it comes to ordering here. This platter, with the dips included, is recommended for 2-3 people. Having tackled it twice now, initially as a duo and then a 3-man team, I must confess it has championed me on both occasions, with rather large doggy bags coming home. No complaints really though…it’s like the dinner that just keeps on giving. And the price for such an enormous amount of food? £30. So between 4 people (and even then I think you’d have spare), that works out at about 8 quid each. Amazing!
But if eating the equivalent of a whole animal in one sitting isn’t your thing, you have other dining options. Another favourite of mine is Eat Toyko. A tiny, really authentic Japanese restaurant, you will often have to queue for a table, and even booking doesn’t guarantee you your table straight away. Slightly odd but almost just as well, as this allows you the necessary time to read the extensive menu. Reading as an A-Z of truly delicious Japanese food, you can find offally goodness (can you tell I like my offal?) in the way of teriyaki chicken livers, but also vegan-friendly fare in the shape of tofu dishes and delicious veg.
It’s the bento box selection which really steals the show though, allowing you to try a variety of dishes all in one compact box. The sushi-tem is fantastic, and for £16 it may seem like a slightly more expensive main option, but with all this food…
There’s plenty to share! This includes sushi, sashmi, tempura and a side salad. If your not such a fan of our fishy friends, don’t fret – there are also some great beef and chicken options too. Another Japanese and highly recommended option is Cafe Japan, also a really small restaurant so if you fancy checking it out, probably best to ring ahead and book.
I could not say I hail from Golders Green and not write about L’artista in a restaurant related blog post. This friendly Italian restaurant is situated under the bridge the tube runs over, and the rumbling noise heard every time a train passes only adds to the restaurant’s charm.The pizza’s are big, crispy based circles of joy, and the pasta dishes are also great, coming in huge portions too. Another wallet-friendly option, a margarita will see you back £6 and most dishes are around the £8 mark. Go on your birthday and you’ll get a parade of Italian waiters with cymbals wishing you happy birthday whilst throwing pizza dough on your head. It’s like the present you’ve always dreamed of, but just forgot to ask for.
The last one on the list today, but by no means the end of the options Golders has to offer, is Pita. More of a takeaway (although there is some space inside to dine in), I quote the wise words of my own sister when I say Pita serves ‘the best falafel in the world‘. And she’s a veggie. Better take her word for it then! You can get all mains such as falafel, shwarma, schnitzel or hummus in a pitta, in a wrap or as a meal. The pitta’s are huge, and the meals include an Israeli style tabbouleh salad, chips or rice, plus a pitta – more than enough to feed hungry bellies on the move. And with a falafel pitta costing just £4.20, I’d say it’s not bad for the best in the world -and luckily for me it’s just on my doorstep!
So, why not head down to NW11 and give all these places a go? If you do, let me know what you think! And if you have any other foodie gems around the area please feel free to share as well.