Books for Cooks.
It may sound like a charity initiative for illiterate chefs.
But it’s actually a great little shop just off Portobello Road, specialising entirely in cookbooks. Shelf after shelf is stacked with recipes, from new releases to age-old classics, and spanning cuisines across the globe. In total, they’re the proud purveyors of over 8,000 titles.
That isn’t all that happens here, though.
To flick through that volume of vegan picnic ideas, you might have to reach over someone placidly enjoying a bowl of soup. Because at the back of the shop you’ll find the test kitchen, where owner Eric Treuillé and his two chefs can be found plating up a lunchtime feast. Every day from Tuesday to Friday, they pluck one of the newest cookbooks off the shelves, pick out a starter and main course, nip round the corner to Portobello Market for fresh ingredients, and return to rustle up the dishes in-store. With tables and chairs dotted sporadically throughout the shop, this hidden restaurant has become something of a secret lunch club, where locals and regulars come in every day to mingle over good food.
At £7 for a three course meal, it’s insanely good value. The food is delicious and heartwarming – partly because Eric just exudes joy. Tuesdays are vegetarian, Fridays are fish – but other than that, it’s a spontaneous feast announced daily on their twitter (“Today I wake up late, so Pomegranate Humus, Lamb Koftas, and Cakes”). The meal’s always capped off with fresh bakes, and a coffee for £2.
If you want to get a little more hands-on, upstairs is a workshop kitchen where the team hold regular classes, often with an impressive guest list of visiting chefs. Inspired by a different cook book each time, they’ll walk you through some of its most mouthwatering recipes before sitting down to enjoy the fruits of your labours, alongside a glass of wine from Eric’s own vineyard.
The fruit of which is also very good.
NOTE: Books for Cooks is open Tuesday-Saturday, from 10am-6pm. Please note they take Christmas and summer holidays (last 3 weeks of August). Lunch is served Tues-Fri from 12pm-1pm. You can find out more HERE.
Books for Cooks | 4 Blenheim Crescent, London, W11 1NN
Main image: Jim Linwood/Flickr