Westbourne Grove still looks delightful even in a snow storm. The lights of Toms (the Tom in question owns several other London eateries and is also Terrence Conran’s son) were welcoming, although the light from almost anything other than a fridge door would have been a relief in such conditions.
The Westbourne Grove locals love Toms as it’s been there since the 1990s and has become something of an institution. Nicole Kidman has graced a booth at Toms as has Brad Pitt. Those booths are in fact made from old Paris Metro seats. Claudia Schiffer has been spotted shopping in the area and perhaps she stopped for coffee as well.
Toms is a deli and café with touches of old-fashioned sweetshop. It is food-lover’s heaven offering every conceivable sweet or savoury delight. It’s a small area that is artfully packed with temptation, and it’s a place with three distinct but overlapping personas.
One is first introduced to the confectionery emporium which has goods hanging from the walls and spilling from every shelf, counter, nook and cranny …and a ceiling carousel. The buyer for Toms must have the best job in the world. There are continental chocolates nestling close to jars of boiled sweets (think sherbet pips and humbugs). There are bottles of designer cordials and boxes of Italian panettone. The displays change with the seasons so expect an occasional bunny (sugary not butchery) come Easter.
After passing through the front section of Toms one finds oneself on the horns of a dietary dilemma. Some tea and a slice of one of those cakes (these would have previously beckoned to you as you passed) accompanied by a nice sit down… or a little meander around the basement deli. OK, we did the deli first.
This is the savoury version of the aforementioned front-of-house – a veritable Aladdin’s cave of things one would love to try. There is a cold counter for salads, an amazingly good selection of cheeses, smoked meats and some ready-to-eat meals, and all manner of take-away dishes and sandwiches. There are eggs, fresh fruit and veg as well as a surprisingly good display of high-end sauces, condiments. oils and vinegars. This is a small space crammed with culinary Ooooh! and Ahhhh!
Next stop was the upper-floor cafe. It has more of a feeling of a traditional teashop although the addition of those French booths adds a quirky eclectic charm. The cakes are fresh and are difficult to pass up. The lemon drizzle cake was a great choice although they all looked good. If we had arrived earlier we could have sampled Toms breakfasts (served until midday) for which they are so famous. Eggs Florentine, Eggs Benedict as well as the Full English are on offer but come early at weekends or you’ll be defeated by the queue. The lunch menu features salads and pizzas, light bites and soup but this changes from time to time.
Toms Deli is just what you would expect from a smart London district. It offers classy foodstuffs in a stylish fashion. It has a worldwide reputation as a spot to take in when “doing London”. Well worth a visit for gifts for the gourmet in your life, for a cuppa and a cake or more especially for breakfast.
226 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2RH
Tel: 020 7221 8818
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018