It’s raining in Pimlico. In fact, it’s been pouring in London all week. My umbrella is defenseless against the sideways spray, which along with the wind sweeps me into the new Cambridge Street Cafe. Just opened this week, the timing couldn’t be better for my impromptu visit. I take a seat along the banquette, soaking up the pretty pink ambiance and open kitchen as my coat absorbs the raindrops falling from my hair. I like this place. In fact, I like all of Pimlico.
Located right in the middle of central London, Pimlico—like Vauxhall, its across-the-river-counterpart—often gets overlooked when it comes to London neighborhoods. I never think to go there, friends seldom suggest meeting there, and I rarely seem to find myself wandering through.
But on days like today when rain or life’s other unexpected circumstances draw me in, I realize that when I forget about Pimlico I’m like Boris Johnson forgetting to comb his hair. I look like an idiot.
So today I’m determined to remedy my idiocy, come drizzle or downpour. I fortify myself with a latte, then open my umbrella and take to the roads.
And lovely ones they are. Light pink doors stand out from white columned houses sporting window boxes overflowing with bright colored flowers. Pretty green squares pop up between old stone churches, and historic pubs wedge themselves between orange brick buildings.
Like Maida Vale, the neighborhood doesn’t have just one high street where all the best Pimlico restaurants and cafes reside. But with a little wandering, I manage to find the key clusters.
The best one is on Wilton Road, where neighborhood favorite Pimlico Fresh has a queue out the door for its well-known coffee and pastries.
Up the road is A.Wong, the area’s beloved Chinese restaurant, and one street over lies Rippon Cheese Stores, Pimlico’s famous fromagerie. It’s just steps away from the Tachbrook Street Market, a daily outdoor collection of street vendors selling everything from fresh bell peppers to hot falafel.
I walk through the market, letting myself be lured from stall to stall by the sizzling aromas of hot food, then continue my exploration of Pimlico’s restaurants and cafes with a peek at Delicias de Portugal. Every tiny table out front is packed with people enjoying a morning espresso. If the rain won’t deter them, the place must be good. I know where I’m going for my next custard tart fix.
But in the meantime I’m going to the riverfront, where on the border of Pimlico lies another great foodie find: Tate Britain.
I know, I know. It’s a museum. But not only does it have a great restaurant with an impressive wine list, it also has a new exhibition called Tate Sensorium that combines taste, scent, and other senses with art. It opened yesterday, and if there’s an exhibition I want to see, it’s one that combines Paul A Young’s chocolates with Francis Bacon’s Figure in a Landscape (if only Francis were also a kind of bacon!).
Heading back to the Pimlico tube station, I wander through Dolphin Square. It’s tucked away behind imposing brick blocks, but nestled within them are beautiful gardens and pretty fountains. Like Pimlico itself, it’s easy to pass by without appreciating how lovely it is. Even in the rain.