Chocolate. Meat. More meat. And cheese? That’s right. The main drag of Holland Park (can you call 10 shops a drag?) is full of absolutely fantastic shops that will test the will power of most carnivorous chocoholics (but no bacon chocolate caramels). It is the kind of place that will empty your pockets and earn you a fat card on the tube. In one word? These shops are dangerous. So next time you go for a nice little gander in the park to visit the peacocks, play a game of giant chess or listen to the opera- or even exercise a little and walk to Holland Park station after shopping at Westfield, here are some shops that are so fantastic that you might need to put a warning sign on them.
1. Melt Chocolate
For me, Melt delivers the best all round chocolate in London. It might not herald lofty credentials like being bean to bar or look all hipster and I’ve not seen an open kitchen that went so totally function over form before. All this becomes irrelevant as their chocolates are heavenly. I’m currently obsessed with the kid’s dark milk chocolate – a fantastic milk which is not that sweet, very creamy and melt in the mouthy – a perfect marriage of milk and dark chocolate (oh god don’t get me started about dry milk chocolate, Duffy, I’m looking at YOU) and their mud pies – salty and caramelly, chocolatey and gooey and a crunchy top – seriously what more do you want from a chocolate slice?!?
Past fascinations include the Coconut Bar, the Salt Bar and Bar No. 2. On flush days, I like the PBJ truffle (with real peanut butter and jelly inside), the salt caramel truffle (anything with liquid salt caramel in it is good, but their version isn’t too sweet), the Passion fruit jelly thing (what a chocolate ‘orange’ should taste like) and the coconut thing (can never eat a bounty bar again).
They also do a great cup of hot chocolate and are currently selling socks for Christmas…
Melt Chocolate– 6 Clarendon Road
A roast chicken from Lidgate tastes different from a regular roast chicken. I suppose a) you’d expect a good butcher’s chicken would taste better than even the most expensive supermarket chicken and b) if the chicken costs upwards of £20, you’d better go home knowing its name. But, having taste-tested several chickens (I used Anthony Demetre’s 4 sided roast chicken recipe, which is more work than most roast chicken recipes with the turning and turning and turning, so you really want the chicken to man up and deliver on chickeny flavours), from the sad little £3 birds that no one loved to the poncy organic/ free range £15 birds from the supermarket, this one is the only one where my mother would willingly offer to touch the breast (Chinese people don’t volunteer to eat chicken breasts. It’s an alien concept to us). In fact she liked it so much that last time, the tiny woman ate pretty much 1/2 a chicken in one go (where did it go? She’s size zero!). Lidgate’s chicken, then, is my go to comfort food blowout buy. A bit too dear for your daily chicken needs, but once in a while, it’s good to remember what a chicken actually tastes like.
Their other produce doesn’t disappoint either. From sausages (our fav. is honey mild) to steaks to lamb noisettes to wagyu burgers (no, I haven’t bought any wagyu steak because I can’t afford to F one up) to pies, Lidgate nails every single one of them – and I guess other people think so too, since they’ve earned so many Great Taste gold stars.
They also have a cooked sausage pot luck thing where they sell cooked sausages for 50p each, but I’ve only ever got the funky flavours (I’m really boring, I don’t like boar or venison). Their plethora of sausage testers to entertain you while you wait is much better.
The staff here are super helpful and like any decent (as in decent human beings, but they are also good) butchers, Lidgate gives you free bones with purchase if you ask for it.
Lidgate– 110 Holland Park Avenue
Speck seriously thinks they’re in Italy. That’s a good thing, because they’re an Italian family-run deli which (rightly so) hasn’t changed a bit over the years. I usually go to get my hams here. The reasons to come here is simple- they have a good quality Italian charcuterie with a seasonal selection, all the produce are sliced at a proper and even thickness (don’t get me started on thick parma ham). Every single time. Never a dud slice. Their ham doesn’t get stuck together and turn to mulch. Their chocolate mousse is also quite good (but I reserve all my chocolate fix for Melt’s mud pies) and obviously, an unlimited selection of dried pasta and other “exciting cooking stuff”. They also do yummy fresh food, but mainly, I’m here for all the meats- At the same price as more upmarket supermarket varieties, why would you buy thick ham instead of perfectly sliced thin ham (unfortunately, we all fall for convenience)?
I’m a bit reluctant to include Jeroboams in my list as one of their main selling points is that they are an affineur. In theory that’s awesome but the last several times I’ve got a soft cheese from them I’ve been disappointed in that they weren’t ripe enough- may be I’m a bit too demanding in that I expect buying a cheese from them means it should be always ready to eat (as it is from the cheese cart from my sister’s local berlin farmer’s market – for Berliners it’s just the “everyday market where we buy food at a normal price”), and with the fickleness of cheeses (especially soft ones) this hasn’t always been the case (fine, it’s me being demanding). However, they do have a really good selection of cheese both French and English and usually advice on the waiting time if the cheese is not ripen to your desired squishiness. They do also sell Tideford’s soups, Jude’s ice cream, bread/ baked goods from Sally Clarke, Cartmel sticky toffee pudding, a stonking good pesto, good olives and a variety of deli goods. They also sell wine and other cooking sundries at the back. Basically, Jeroboams is your local one stop gourmet food store. It has a massive variety of well sourced good quality products that will most definitely be able to create some sort of ready-made meal of the grand, gourmet scale.
May be I’m just unlucky with the cheese and I should just stop being so princessy (but equally of note, they don’t cut ham as well here, so do make the extra stop at speck for your hammy needs).
Jeroboams– 96 Holland Park Avenue
Author’s note: Of course these are not the only shops around this little corner of the world, these are just the shops I choose to go to because I rather like them. Sadly, the shop I end up shopping at the most is Tesco (because they take apple pay!).