Friday, October 16, 2015
The Best Pick-Me-Up Lunch @ Free Range People, Neal's Yard, Covent Garden
A bit of a departure from my usual "Have a good weekend" posts, but I found this great little place yesterday and just had to share! It's funny how delicious food and a change of scenery can instantly boost your mood. And after the week I've had (the fraud stuff was still plaguing me yesterday, after I spent an hour on the phone to my bank at 6:00 a.m. yesterday in tears)? I decided to treat myself to a nice lunch. Instead of heading to our usual Pret, where we sit in the basement and intensely re-hash our work morning over Diet Cokes and uninspiring salads, Caroline and I stopped into Neal's Yard in Covent Garden, hoping to get a table at Homeslice (possibly my favorite place for pizza in London).
Of course, Homeslice was full and I didn't feel like having porridge (the UK equivalent of oatmeal) for lunch at 26 Grains (although I might be singing a different tune come winter) so we grabbed a seat in Free Range People - a new cafe serving Monmouth Coffee and an array of freshly-baked, scrumptious pastries and sandwiches with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it unassuming exterior.
Inside, a couple of lone freelancers looked up blankly as we walked in, Macbooks plugged in and flat whites by their sides. We decided to have a no-holds-barred kind of lunch, both ogling the selection of cakes (the plum tart looked enticing but I bullied Caroline into the Bakewell instead - my favorite) and the sandwiches (we went for the chicken, spinach, and pesto).
"I kind of feel like having hot chocolate," Caroline said, and I agreed. It'd recently turned cold outside and a hot chocolate at lunch seemed like the perfect treat.
I'm so glad I grabbed that hot chocolate because it was one of the best I've had in a long while. Instead of powdery, bitter tasting chocolate mix that pools in a horrible clump of gunk at the bottom of your cup (hi, Pret!), this tasted like real, thick drinking chocolate - properly mixed into a steaming hot cup of milk. The kind of hot chocolate someone would make in a pot over the stove.
So we sat and chatted about leather backpacks instead of work, and this was our view:
I've forgotten how pretty and bright and colorful Neal's Yard is. These days, unless I'm angling for an early seat at Homeslice, I tend to avoid it because, well, when you've worked in the same area for 8 years, you forget the magic of simply wandering and tend to head straight for places that are a part of your routine.
After our lovely lunch, we stopped into Neal's Yard Remedies for a quick browse before heading back to the office. But instead of feeling weighed down, or sleepy, or restless (which I often feel after lunch), I felt energized, more awake, and ... generally happier.
So. My advice? Treat yourself to that occasional nice lunch in that nice little area you forget about. It's so worth it.
And ... happy Friday!