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In London

Secret garden?
Park Square Gardens, near Regents Park, London NW1. Open only to local residents and special group of keyholders.

Sunday lunch:
Rising Inn pub at Twickenham, south-west London. Brilliant setting beside the Thames, great food, quick service.

Best Park:
Bushy Park, a large expanse of woods and grassland, near Hampton Court, Surrey - full of deer, empty of people. Get there via Teddington or Hampton Court railway stations (

Good London Restaurants

East London - A Grelha, Canary Wharf:
A barbecue with a difference, Portuguese-style grill A Grelha is situated opposite The O2 and has amazing views of Canary Wharf. Fresh fish and meat cooked to order on its impressive Thames-side deck make for a stylish outdoors meal. Bursting with Mediterranean flavours, many of the mains are for two to share, making this a perfect, and unusual, date destination.
It may be perched next to Canary Wharf ‘s skyscrapers, but A Grelha’s menu is plucked straight out of the Algarve - try the spicy chicken piri piri and chips (£14) or Portuguese sardines (£3.70 per 100g) cooked on the charcoal grill. To wash it down, it has to be a jug of sangria (£15 for two pints).
A Grelha At The Gun, Wed-Sun, lunch and dinner, 27 Coldharbour, E14
020 7515 5222).

West London: A fish-lovers’ grill – Babylon
This is decadence on a heady scale. Summer at Babylon means a classy barbecue high above the rooftops of Kensington amid the odd flamingo and 1.5 acres of tropical gardens.
This summer, Babylon’s menu features only sustainable, UK produced food. Colchester rock oysters (12 for £16) are served with shallots and aged red wine vinegar, Cornish mackerel (£18) comes with sardines and warm salad of fennel, olives and green beans, and Falmouth Bay spider crab comes with mayonnaise, avocado, seasonal leaves and wild cress (£22 for two). All are freshly grilled on the new fish bar and meat and vegetarian options are also available.
Babylon, midday-3pm and 7-11pm daily except Sunday evenings. 7th Floor, 99 Kensington High Street, W8 (020 7368 3993).

North London – Clissold Arms
The Kinks played their first gig at the Clissold Arms in 1960 and, despite an overhaul earlier in the year, this Muswell Hill boozer remains a shrine to the London rockers.
The venue’s huge outdoor patio is home to an outdoor grill where chef Jake Young cooks dishes that are a cut above the usual boring burger. Check out the king prawn piri piri with celeriac remoulade, chargrilled rump steak with Portobello mushroom or grilled sardines with tapenade toast and roast vine tomatoes (all between £8.75 and £16.50). And for dessert? A bowl of wild raspberry and jasmine tea trifle or Eton mess (both £5) should round things off nicely.
Clissold Arms, open weekends only, food served from midday, 115 Fortis Green, N2 (020 8444 4244).

South London: The Rosendale
If the temperature hits 14C, the coals at The Ship are fired up and the peppered tuna steaks are slung onto the barbie. They’ve officially been cooking outside since 9 February and in summer crowds of up to 400 gather outside to soak up the atmosphere and river views.
On busy days, up to four chefs toil away on the massive grill, churning out baby sea bass (£13.95), 30-day-hung Scottish beef and lamb burgers (£9.95). There are plenty of veggie options, too. Young’s real ales and a huge wine list offer more than enough fuel to bounce along to the live jazz band, which plays on the deck each Saturday.
The barbecue menu served daily midday-10pm, 65 Rosendale Road, SE21 (020 8670 0812,

West London - Aragon House

Aragon House is in a walled enclave off New Kings Road and feels a world away from the hustle and bustle. Garden tables can’t be booked, so arrive early for evening or weekend dining - or be prepared to wait. The French mezze (£10) or grilled chicken wings with barbecue sauce (£5.50) are a great warm-up and the grilled wild boar sausages or signature beef burger (both £10) are the real deal. Locals make the most of the barbie on weekdays with grilled sandwiches (£5.50).
Aragon House, barbecue daily from midday-3pm and 6-9pm, 247 New Kings Road, SW6 (020 7731 7313)

Accommodation in London

Cheap Hotel chains:
Premier Inns – 500 Premier Inns located in UK –
eg. London Kensington (0870 238 3304) is good value at around £100 a night, weekdays.

© 2008 Marcus Gibson